Many of you may know that one of my many ventures is that I own an online boutique. While on search for vendors, I happened to come across a clothing line that caught my attention. That clothing line was Street M.O.D.E. 22. The hint of urban street, along with a flair of upscale class, peaked my interest and I needed to know more about the line. However, something else happened. When you think of fashion and understand how hard the industry can be for new lines, you begin to wonder about the minds behind those designs and what gives them that drive to remain persistent. It so happened that I wasn't at full capacity at the moment on my Facebook's friendly 5000 limit and I had the opportunity to send out a friend request with the owner, Andre Thornton. I'm sure he wasn't aware that I was researching and admiring his line from afar. It fascinates me to see people who are creative and how they come up with concepts and turn them into a work of art. Luckily for me, I posted something that caught Andre Thornton's attention and allowed me the opportunity to finally meet the man behind the M.O.D.E. From there, I was able to get the interview of my dreams.
Were you always a person who enjoyed dressing nice?
YES, I was the guy who was known for just that. In fact, when friends from back home find out that I have a clothing line, the first thing that they say is, "Dre' I'm proud of you and you were always that dude who was HEAVY into fashion. It makes sense that this is what you're doing now." I loved fashion so much that I used to get teased by the fellas for carrying a man purse at one point. I had 2 of them, a Louis V and a Gucci depending on what I was wearing. So needless to say, I got teased without end!
Growing up in New Jersey, did you ever think that fashion was something you would eventually venture into?
No I actually thought just like most young men that I would be playing sports of some kind, Basketball or my first love boxing, during my younger years. But, after that I was very much interested in business and trying to put myself in the best possible position to do that. Being a CEO of my own business wasn't exactly something me and my friends thought was an option. At best mid-level or executive management was the thing to aim for!
Where did the concept of Street Mode come from?Street M.O.D.E 22 Clothing
Well the idea for the line originally started with three members. So the name and concept started from there. It eventually dwindled down to just me after the obvious disagreements on direction, money, personality conflicts, even things as simple as color. But when you have a vision and you start putting your own money behind that vision, you have to have the ability to separate personal from business and unfortunately as a group we couldn't do that and maintain a friendship. So what happens is what usually happens. They both end. But the name and its concepts come from that lifestyle we were all living at the time, and seeing all of our friends trying to overcome that struggle to maintain. We all recognized that the Streets are a struggle and depending on what you're doing that at that moment, is the MODE that you're in. We then came up with the acronym for the mode: Maintain or Die EASILY. Then on the Twenty 2 side all 3 of our birthdays were on different months but on the 22nd day. So there is the birth of Street M.O.D.E 22. The concept for 22 was easy to come up with as well. Any 2 things that are identical are the same. Like identical twins. I came up with the final piece on my own by saying that even what appears to be identical actually isn't. So here is the difference between the lines. Depending on where you're going will determine what you're going to wear!
I've noticed the 1865 which is one of your signatures on your denim line, what is the significance of that year for you and why did you choose to incorporate it into your clothing?
The significance of 1865 came up first to avoid [using] the established date that the line began, my birthday, or the year that the line was actually registered and on the books. Then I wanted to have something that was historic, creative, and memorable. When you think about overcoming the STRUGGLE, what all people have in common, is the struggle to survive but for BLACK people specifically. 1865 was so significant because we were told that 'you're free now. Go and make your own way, earn your own wages. But because of slavery the world will NEVER accept you as a man or a woman or an equal.' So to me that was a serious struggle to overcome and that story needs to be shouted from the roof tops and every possible opportunity so as to never be forgotten. Another point to mention is that in my mind, 1865 was specifically for other men and woman of color which was at the beginning of this journey in fashion all [that] I saw wearing my clothes. My vision has since expanded to all people but the year and the events that surround 1865 should not be something that non people of color should be afraid of and run away from!
Has it been a struggle thus far?Street M.O.D.E 22 clothingYES it has. Fashion is, in my opinion, by far the most secretive and private industry next to the hair industry to break into. I actually became so frustrated at a point not knowing what to do that I actually paid for a seminar in NYC through a company called Global Purchasing just to get some insight on what to do next. I had already done the obvious, trademark, registered with the state to get a tax I.D. website, social network, even having a few articles of clothing professionally done (samples) and after that I was stuck. So you do what comes natural and that was searching the internet for information and I came across a class called "How to start a clothing line 101." So, I obviously checked the company out as well as the named instructor and everything came back 100 so I paid the required fees and drove from NC to NYC and got some VERY useful information as well as what may have been obvious to others but not so obvious to me.......
Be sure to check out part two of this interview with Andre Thornton of Street M.O.D.E. 22 Clothing where we learn more about the struggle, keeping up with the changes, and if more lines (including plus size) will be part of the future for Street M.O.D.E. 22.
For More Information about Street M.O.D.E. 22, visit their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Street-MODE-22-Clothing/83306617904