African American Designer Prep Curry Makes History with Banana Republic

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( ENSPIRE Feature ) Prep Curry x Banana Republic Collaboration Signifies Step Forward for Fashion Industry

ENSPIRE Contributor: Keegan Kerns

In five years, fashion designer Prep Curry moved 31 times, all the way from his native Memphis to LA, even undergoing periods of homelessness. However, his desire, drive, and stunning new designs that move beyond typical masculine norms have launched him into a new fashion spotlight with the Prep Curry x Banana Republic Collaboration. His bold style alongside his frequent use of florals distinguishes his collection, allowing for a broad array of in-your-face, never uniform but always bold items such as crew-neck t-shirts, sneakers, duffel bags, and the collection’s especially thrilling and beautiful bomber jacket. 

Prep Curry’s unique style in part derives itself from his own introduction to the industry and the world of fashion. Unlike so many others, Prep Curry was forced to learn and experiment by himself, attending what he calls “YouTube University”, forcing himself to absorb all the information possible and constantly having to be the one to motivate himself and improve upon his work as he grew as an artist. Though this introduction into the industry might not be the norm, Curry has recognized some of its benefits, noting how with “YouTube University” there are no limits to one’s learning, and one’s style never becomes tainted, allowing us to see today the incredibly unique designs that are Prep Curry’s.

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Prep Curry x Banana Republic T-Shirt Designs

In an interview, Prep Curry answered some of our questions about his journey in fashion.

Q: What inspired you to pursue fashion as a career? 

A: I’ve always been a creative individual and loved to dress differently, so fashion has always been a passion of mine. Growing up, I loved to dress “preppy” and the way that I dressed was outside of the box for many of my peers. As I got older, I loved the idea of mixing and matching pieces in order to stand out and be different. Fashion allows for people to have their individualism shine through, so it was a natural career choice for me. 

Q: You’ve described part of your fashion journey as going through “YouTube University” and being self-taught. How do you think your unique background and journey reflect themselves in your work?  

A: After I took a basic sewing class to learn how to properly use my sewing machine and start the basis of my sewing skills, I used YouTube to get some different ideas on some techniques and pieces I wanted to practice making. I took what I saw on YouTube and put my own personal touch to the pieces I decided to offer because I want items that are different from what people can purchase in department stores, as well as from other designers. Being self-taught and just trying new things by experimenting with different patterns, materials, etc., allows for me to bring something different to the table while perfecting my craft.

Q: You’ve also described a lot of your clothing and designs as being unisex. What parts of your work do you think reflect this the best, and how do you think this contributes to your uniqueness as a designer?

A: On most of my pieces, I make them for not only fashion, but comfort as well. My signature style is adding flowers because flowers are not necessarily feminine how many assume and look great on everyone. Utilizing flowers is also a representation of my growth and change into the man I have become today from where I have been, along with all of the things I have experienced throughout life. 

Q: How was collaborating with Banana Republic to create your own collection?

A: Collaborating with Banana Republic was an amazing experience, especially being the first African-American designer to partner with them as a part of their efforts to highlight more minority creatives. When I first began designing the collection, I knew it would bring some of the enthusiasm back to the brand, as they normally don’t have the bright colors and patterns that I brought to the capsule collection. I think the most amazing part of the collection were how fast pieces sold out and how customers reacted because so many of the customers stated they were happy to see Banana Republic bring a “bright” collection and pieces back to their stores. Personally, this was an accomplishment for me because it was the chance for me to bring my fashion on a larger scale to new people by introducing them to who Prep Curry is. The collaboration opened the doors for not only future projects for myself, but other minority designers as well. 

Q: For all others who would like to follow in your footsteps in this industry, what recommendations would you have for them?

A: Stay focused on your dream and don’t let anyone discourage you. Find your unique niche for the industry and look at every person that you run into as an opportunity and future connection.

In the end, both Curry’s journey and his work should resonate with us at a human level. The difficulties he has overcome in order to pursue fashion are many and often still continue to exist in certain forms, but in his passion and success, we can find someone to look up to. Similarly, his dual-gender capsule collection pushes the world of fashion-forward from gender norms into a world in which what we wear can be about who we are and how we want to express ourselves instead of limiting trends. As if there were not enough, Curry’s achievements in and of themselves represent an important step for fashion, where he brings the presence of Black designers into the eyes of possible future designers, showing that collaborations such as these are both achievable goals and that no Black designer should be forced to simply have their designs taken away from them with no recompense. Curry’s work is transformative, and hopefully, the fashion industry continues to transform as well by incorporating more BIPOC.

Follow Prep Curry on Instagram.

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