Fashion gives us tools we need to fight movements. In this case, it is the direly important Black Lives Matter Movement. Sadly, the movement is weighted with a long and repetitive, fraught and infuriating history of oppression. Small businesses are doing what they can in varying capacities to fight this brutal oppression. Small business, namely fashion brands like Philadelphia-based urban wear brand, Rekless Creations, are taking steps to fight alongside this movement. I sat down to interview owner and designer Brittany Wongus to venture into her innovative mind and gain insights into how she feels about a movement she has confronted as a Black woman by vehicles of art and fashion.
US: Describe your involvement with the Black Lives Matter Movement.
BW: My role in the ‘Black Lives Matter Movement” is to spread the message through art. Not only are the customers purchasing a Revolution tee, they are donating as well. For every tee purchased, half of the proceeds go towards Protest Bail Out.
US: Why is fashion, namely Rekless Creations, a powerful way to fight alongside this movement?
BW: People want a statement piece, wearable art that reflects their feelings, their vibe, and who they are as an individual. Rekless Creations is that brand that has no censor at all.
US: How has the existence of the brand helped you process the latest occurrences in police brutality?
BW: I have processed the police brutality through social media, listening to artists who talk about police brutality such as NWA, public enemy, and watching documentaries.
Police brutality is very frequently in the urban community.
US: Explain the intent behind the Black Lives Matter tee and its slogans.
BW: The intent behind the BLM tee was to tell everyone, black, Hispanic, Caucasian, natives, whoever! that it is time for a revolution. Racism, police brutality are ongoing issues in the world, not just in the United States. We have to come together as one because we are all humans; no one should be degraded because of the pigment of their skin. Change is coming and we as the people have the power to make that change.
US: How does the tee call for solidarity?
BW: The Revolution Tee calls for solidarity because everyone is ready for evolution.
US: In what ways would you say the tee is political, and in what ways is it not?
BW: The tee is political because we are in a human rights war.
This movement has a lot to do with politics from police enforcement, racism, economic issues like poverty, unemployment, etc.
US: What are the other avenues in art and fashion that can help fight systemic racism?
BW: These certain avenues would be, but are not limited to, donations, powerful sayings on apparel, and giving equal opportunities.
US: What feelings has this process brought you? How did you cope with it with fashion?
BW: The day that George Floyd was murdered, my heart was heavy with anger, frustration, and sadness which led me to pour all that emotion into the Revolution Tee. I did a spin-off of the Time magazine; basically “Time” is a political magazine that I needed to bring in the focus of that. I used the fist to represent the people coming together. Under the fist you have different sayings like,” Being black is not a crime”,” change is coming” and “power to the people” which leads us to a Revolution.
Fashion has always been there to reassure us, and not only can it help give us a voice and platform for issues, but it helps us have healing at times when we need it. Fashion can vocalize the ineffable and materialize the intangible. It captures the elusive things we confront and gives words in other forms that we never knew we needed. It blocks the normalization of racism in this case, and it does wonders for us. Fashion should typically serve as a vocal platform for issues and movements, especially Black Lives Matter, and it should also prove to be an expressive and liberating one as well.
Brittany has made some salient and very insightful points in this interview. Minds like her make us feel like this world is headed in a much-needed direction. She believes in social media, watching documentaries and calling for change in the form of donations, apparel, and equal opportunities, as you can see. Rekless Creations can be shopped at www.reklesscreations.com and the Instagram handle for the brand is simply @reklesscreations. You can also follow the brand on Facebook, where it is also titled “Rekless Creations.”
Article and Interview by: Umar Siddiqui
Special thanks to Brittany Wongus for sitting for this interview.