Introducing Détroit is the New Black

Last week, in Detroit, Nous was fortunate enough to cross paths with very creative Young Lady, Roslyn Karamoko (shown in the cover photo), who is the mastermind behind Détroit is the New Black.

For those of us who have never heard of Détroit is the New Black it is an art space and clothing brand, located in the heart of the city, that promotes local artists and business. This is especially beautiful making the space created by Detroit and created for Detroit.

Roslyn Karamoko is at the forefront of a recent trend of hyper-local retail, that caters to a very specific region and isn’t built on a goal of expansion or franchising. The physical location is an homage to the city and gives local consumers an immersive and complete cultural experience. The space is an art gallery and retail space by day and an event space for poetry slams, fundraisers, trunk shows, and classes by night.

Karamoko received her bachelor’s degree from Howard University and is a native of Seattle, Washington. Prior to moving to Detroit and creating this space she worked as a retail buyer around the world from New York to Singapore. She credits her worldwide experience as inspiration behind some of the collections she has put together.

In short an abstract about her writes,

“Roslyn Karamoko has effectively created a conversation on the past, present, and future of Detroit, its underlying socioeconomic and racial issues, and the city’s steady revitalization – all through a five-word statement.”

Check out more about Détroit is the New black location and store here, and look below for what Karamoto has to say about being a cornerstone of the reconstruction of a city, and bridging the gap between community and artistic expression.

In 2016 you moved your space from Midtown Detroit to Downtown Detroit, how important was this move for the brand and what does this mean moving forward?

This was an important move that put us in the epicenter of retail and revitalization in Detroit. We became neighbors to national retailers like John Varvatos and Warby Parker which has positioned us a a national label coming out of Detroit. As development continues downtown, it will be exciting to see what other interesting brand adjacencies pop up and how foot traffic will increase subsequently.

You have seen tremendous success with Détroit is the New Black, do you have any plans or dreams to expanding this concept to other cities?

I’m very interested in hyper-local retail done well, so I could see myself creating curated retail experiences for other cities, but it would be a completely different vibe. Something more tailored to the specific locale.

With the rise of eco-friendly and socially conscious brands do you think brands that do not necessarily stand for anything are going to continue to find themselves in a tough spot?

I think consumers are becoming more savvy and brands with more of a social or sustainable mission will become the norm. Ultimately, it’s about finding a tribe that supports and believes in what the brand stands for. Without this element, it will be difficult for brands to sustain over longer periods. 

What is Détroit is the New Black’s overarching message?

The over-arching message is about inclusivity and shifting perspectives. Taking a city known for squalor and negative history and giving it a fresh, optimistic voice. The dream is to create a brand that spans race, income, and educational backgrounds and serves as a point of unification in a rapidly changing social and political climate. 

You have an array of knowledge in the fashion industry from formal schooling to real work experience around the globe, what is most important to you when designing a new piece or buying an item out of another collection?

The most important thing is how a piece makes me feel. Do I love it? Do I feel most like myself? Does it communicate what I’d like to say? I have to feel connected or moved by a piece or at least understand the intention behind it.

Outside of your own private label, what other Detroit Brands should be on our radar and why?  

Vizuvl Gvds is a label that I’ve been crushing for while. It’s by a Nigerian gentleman who was a former engineer for GM. Super talented and perfect construction. The Lip Bar is also a go to for ladies cosmetics. It’s by a native Detroiter and a favorite in our shop. 

What is your favorite clothing brand right now and why?

The Row. I’ve been obsessed for the last 3-5 years. Ultimate cool girl chic.

For people who have never heard of Roslyn Karamoko or Détroit is the New Black, what should they know about you and the brand?

I’m just excited to be here. Excited to have the opportunity to use my creative voice and that be acknowledged and received by the community.

Jelani Arthur Williamson