The most vivid memories Ouigi Theodore has of Macy’s are as 14-year-old saving his allowance, washing cars with friends and collecting bottles to get his hands on a piece of Polo Ralph Lauren.
“If you know Polo in the 80s and the 90s, that was just an important part of me becoming American, and also for young men, young street kids in Brooklyn, to feel like they could afford a piece of the American Dream,” Brooklyn designer and creative Theodore said.
As a teen, he spent hours window shopping with friends after trekking from Brooklyn to Macy’s 34th Street location, taking in the feel, look and aesthetic of the store and all its highly curated collections.
Fast forward to today, and Theodore is bringing his highly sought-after designs right back to that location in a new collaboration with Macy’s – but at a more affordable price for a teen.
“It’s still aspirational, it’s still beautifully made, and it’s by someone who looks like that kid that was window shopping in the 90s,” he told BK Reader.
Theodore joins Zerina Akers, Misa Hylton, Aminah Abdul Jillil and Allen Onyia as the five Black creatives in Macy’s Icons of Style collaboration, where the designers will share three exclusive, limited-edition seasonal collections.
Theodore’s collection for Sun + Stone is dedicated to his mother and pays homage to his personal experiences through symbolic use of the numbers 1945 and 45; the year his mother was born and the age she died.
“She died young, but she left so much and she’s been such an influence, on me and on who I ultimately became, and she had a love for history as well and a love for Haiti,” he said. The collection features a mix of casual and elevated outerwear pieces highlighted by neutral tones and bold graphics.
“You see elements of my love for Haiti and my Haitian background, and my mom’s love for Haiti intertwined in the collections.”
Theodore said he “fell into fashion” after graduating with a history degree, doing graphic design and being involved in the city’s nightlife. He said his trajectory lent him to a more storytelling perspective, rather than one of a classically trained designer.
What came next was The Brooklyn Circus. The Brooklyn Circus has become an iconic fashion and culture brand in the borough and far beyond, earning Theodore fans as far as Europe, South Africa, Japan, Korea and the UK.
A big part of vision is building on what has come before and centering in history and representation. He said as a designer and as a creative, he was always looking to add a new page to the, “Ouigi Theodore story, to the Brooklyn Circus story, to the Haitian American individual.”
“It’s sort of like a jazz musician, I’m speaking to a group of people and I’m speaking for a group of people, and history gives me an opportunity to do that and to build and add on to what came before,” he said.
At the heart of Theodore’s story is Brooklyn. It is where it all began for Brooklyn Circus and he said it was the foundation for who he was and who he became.
“I came from Port-Au-Prince and I landed in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is a province of Haiti when you think about the number of Haitians and Caribbeans, it’s such a beautiful melting pot,” he said.
“I was introduced to reggae music in Brooklyn, I was introduced to so many things through the Brooklyn lens.”
Brooklyn, he said, was a state of mind. “No matter where you’re at, there’s someone that has a similar sensibility and that’s why Brooklyn and the Brooklyn circus made sense to me.”
Ouigi Theodore’s collection, and those of the four other creatives, will be available Monday, March 29, when Macy’s launches the Icons of Style collaboration.
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