Travis Hamilton, the Houston based creative director of the fashion collection Negris LeBrum took to the virtual runway to debut his effort for Spring 2021. The collection, begun over 6 months ago, was inspired by a phrase made iconic by the now passed social activist, Representative John Lewis, who made constant mention of the civil unrest as being “good trouble.” Little did Travis know that not only would the Civil Rights legend pass during his creative process, but the entire country would erupt in racial unrest as a result of several police brutality incidents.
However, lest you think that Negris LeBrum is looking to capitalize on the situation that stole the headlines over the last 5 months, actually unseating the pandemic at the top of the news feeds, think again… When Travis founded the label Negris LeBrum some 11 years ago, he began with a series of t-shirts that made the statement of “Noir est Joli” (translated as ‘Black is Beautiful’) in the language of his Creole heritage. The conversations that have gripped our nation of late have been a part of his brand DNA since the company’s founding.
“In so many ways, the news cycle came to Negris LeBrum this year, not the other way around,” says Travis Hamilton, Creative Director of Negris LeBrum. “Little did I know that my inspiration would find its way into the national news in such a major way! I set out to create a beautiful collection & pay homage to an iconic hero of mine & instead Negris LeBrum became a fashionable version of the national headlines!”
Negris LeBrum was indeed a real person. She was a fair-skinned Creole woman who was considered lucky to be able to ‘pass’ as a white woman. When she fell in love & chose to marry a dark-skinned Black man, she found herself shunned by both the Black & White communities. Travis met Ms. LeBrum & was so inspired by her story that he asked her to allow him to name his collection as a tribute to her courage, ensuring her name would live on beyond her years.
This dichotomy of injustice can be seen throughout the Negris LeBrum Spring 2021 collection. Tracksuits sitting alongside dressy career options & cocktail dresses walking alongside feather-light chiffon printed sundresses speak to the contrasts that exist on the streets of every town in the country. Wholly modern silhouettes are balanced with some throwback pieces that look to be pulled from the glory days of New York sportswear, the ’80s & ’90s & Tomato Red & Electric Blue are tamed with fashionable Black (remember… “Noir est joli”!) & an almost neutral Leopard pattern with the overall result being a mirror of society as a whole. We are a nation & world of contrasts & whether by intention or happenstance, what Travis Hamilton created for Spring 2021 is fashion’s answer… something for everybody, regardless of age, size, race, taste, or social class. Effortless options for an era where effort should be put elsewhere other than one’s closet.