Brooklyn-born and raised, Romeo Hunte has burgeoned from a world of luxury retail and wardrobe consulting like an enterprising phoenix. Young in tooth but long in experience deciphering between a Wang and a Karan for New York’s most sartorially discriminating heads of house and office, Hunte already shows promise of a developed point of view in street wear.
His aesthetic is purely downtown and edgy; if Miroslava Duma and Stella McCartney had a baby sister, she’d don an RH velvet blazer and mini skirt while crashing a Cherry Glazerr concert and drinking an Hecho en Humo.
“She’s a lower west side—Soho/downtown girl. She’s not your everyday downtown girl; she’s sophisticated with a polished, clean look,” says Hunte. “When you look at the designs, you see a lot of Japanese, menswear inspiration. I get a lot of inspiration from street fashion as well.”
One downtown girl in particular has been seen wearing Hunte’s clothes to press events all over New York. That girl is electro pop singer/songwriter Zendaya Coleman. One look at her Instagram feed and the appeal to Hunte’s designs is clear. Zendaya is a strong example of the kind of girl Hunte is designing for: she’s a risk taker when it comes to dressing. She lives at the intersection of minimalism and sportswear.
“[Zendaya’s] stylist loved the pieces. When he saw the pieces in person, he said ‘You have to send me these pieces!’. She is kind of like [my girl]. She has a balance between a tomboy and a really chic look.”
Hunte’s current fall/winter collection stands as a cohesive demonstration of his vision for sportswear design. Rather than over-exaggerate clean lines and wrap his girl in voluminous fabric, Hunte has gone in the way of accessibility. He’s created garments that are truly ready to wear. One can easily imagine the RH girl going from an after-hours hang out in Chelsea to an impromptu East Village date with a companion called Konstantin or Calum.
“I took a lot of inspiration from London [in terms of menswear tailoring], and mixed it with a downtown New York girl. I would say Meatpacking meets British punk chic,” explains Hunte.
The RH girl is skilled in dressing for her body, though she understands that overt sexuality skews overkill. She’s comfortable with showing leg, but she balances what’s shown with what’s not—her back, her chest, her arms. What’s more, there’s nothing in her look that suggests she’s confused about the genre of style she’s playing in: styled ease with a healthy dose of cultural edge.
Styling women in a luxury retail environment, Hunte sees an opportune niche that he’s excited to fulfill. Working with discriminating buyers, he acknowledges, is what has led him to develop a brand that incorporates style with durability. “A fashion savvy woman wants garments of quality. She wants items that are unique [yet] versatile. The more wears she can get from it, the better.”
Hunte intuitively grasps the importance of brand recognition. While describing his future goals for his brand, he confesses, “[I’m working toward] having that loyal customer and that staple look. If you do see a Romeo Hunte blazer—[for example] you’ll think, ‘Oh yeah, I know that has to be his jacket; it has the piping. He does a lot of asymmetric lines.’” That would be the ultimate compliment.
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Romeo Hunte F/W 2014