Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a two-part series beginning with “Fly Times Boutique bringing street wear culture to Mobile,” which was published in the Oct. 2 edition of Lagniappe.
Mobile and cities like it could indeed be the revival that street wear culture needs, not only from a consumer’s perspective, but from a creative one as well. As Tony Davis, owner of Fly Times Boutique mentioned, the Secret Scientist brand has influenced multiple people to start their own brands. For Bobby “it’s B.J.” Jiles, it was only an opportunity to advance the brand he had been working on for more than 10 years. B.J., local hip-hop artist, has a line of fully custom clothing.
“[Call it] Designs by Bobby Jiles or custom designs by B.J. if you needed to put a title to it,” he said recently.
For Jiles, who recently dropped a project entitled “The Standout,” it’s about exactly that.
“I’ve always had a passion to stand out with my clothing,” he said. “I always hated to go somewhere and say for instance someone would have on the same thing I have on. I literally would want to go home and just change, but I figured if I was to create my own clothing there’s no way that could happen again so that’s when I decided to start creating my own.”
The same exclusivity that has helped push other brands into the limelight is what drives BJ’s line tenfold, as he makes clothes solely by custom order, a process he admits has its ups and downs.
“The advantages to making custom clothing is there is no limit to what I can create and the disadvantage is working for people with closed minds really drains creative side over time.”
Although he specializes in custom creations, he does not rule out the possibility of eventually expanding.
“Eventually further down the line I look forward to making a clothing brand that’s made for the world but until I have that opportunity I plan to keep my clothing company customized. I just like to see people wear stuff that represents them.”
Another brand starting to garner its fair amount of attention is UN-U. Started by Elijah McCreary, UN-U has a unique name and philosophy.
“UN-U meaning ‘Not You’ is just being aware that we are all different in many facets.” McCreary said of his brand. “Whether lifestyle, fashion or creativity. It’s creating your own destiny and being responsible of how and when that destiny is created.”
While aware of how outsiders view the city, McCreary is making efforts to change that perception through one of his most popular designs (one that caught the eyes of a Lagniappe staff member): The “MOB*ILL” T-shirt.
“We have a stigma on being behind in a lot of things culturally because we are down South, but thanks to the Internet and social media it has allowed us to be more abreast on the fashion world abroad.” McCreary said. “I try to capitalize by giving my city its own identity by using these tools to create a brand my city could not only embrace but to be proud of and stand behind. My MOB*ILL tees are just that.”
UN-U has signature tees featuring their mascot: a lion sporting a bowtie and a monocle. It’s a rather odd visual combination, but not only does McCreary make it appealing, he makes it logical.
“The lion for many years has symbolized king of the jungle. The UN-U lion symbolizes being king of your world that you create around you,” McCreary said. “The crown symbolizes wisdom. The monocle symbolizes clearer vision. The bowtie symbolizes being distinguished and walking in excellence.”
McCreary’s website – www.unuluxe.com – also features special pink designs for October as breast cancer awareness month.
While the future of street wear culture as a whole is up in the air, one thing is for sure: it has influenced a demographic it could have possibly never even considered. It’s only right, though.
A smaller city tapping into its creativity is in the exact same spirit of how street wear started. It is about culture and philosophy. It is about giving the otherwise voiceless an outlet and being undeniably fly while doing so.
Clyde Foster is a freelance writer based in Mobile.