Brooklyn Circus Mixes Fashion and Politics 

Fashion collective Brooklyn Circus combines a seriously cultivated throwback aesthetic with clean, contemporary tailoring to create wonderfully unique looks (that also happen to be wearable). But that's not all they're up to. We asked founder Ouigi Theodore about Brooklyn Circus's engagement with the world beyond fashion (touring historically black colleges, working to end the use of child soldiers in the Congo), and how it all fits into the company's ethos.

Everything about Brooklyn Circus makes it seem like it's way more than just a clothing line, as if it's some kind of hybrid block party, study group, fashion show, political demonstration (and yes, circus)... How did it all get started and what the hell do you think you're doing? 
That's a good question, we don't know what we are doing, but we know what we are feeling: This is all from the heart, and it's about cultural responsibility—the clothing industry happens to be our medium. It's about style and character and "The 100-Year Plan"—way bigger than us.

Where does the Brooklyn Circus "look" come from, what are your design inspirations?
We're inspired by everything: old, classic, new and forward-thinking. People who create things with the future in mind. Craftsmen build things on the shoulders of what was, for what's to come; analog kids in a digital world... we love to blend and contrast.

Obviously, you guys are comfortable being outspoken and political, and are active well beyond the scope of the average fashion company. How do you reconcile the seemingly separate worlds of fashion and activism? And can you tell me a bit about your fall college tour?
I'd say we're more aware of and comfortable with our point of view than we are political: we take sides with what we think is right, not what sounds right. College students are the vein of our culture and so we want to go and get in touch with them—we're getting on the road to get their perspective. We don't want to go and preach.

You've been partnering with the Falling Whistles campaign (promoting awareness about child soldiers in the Congo)—how did you connect with those guys, and why should people in Brooklyn care?
People everywhere should be concerned about people anywhere suffering. We met the [Falling Whistles] boys at the Project tradeshow and felt an instant connection to their vision.

You also have a store in San Francisco, and I know you were recently in Japan. Are you thinking international super-empire for BK Circus? (Also, why does everyone around the world get so crazy about the idea of "Brooklyn"?)
We certainly have plans to open up more outlets worldwide. Ideal locations for our next stops would have to be Japan, Atlanta, Stockholm, and Texas. As to why the world loves Brooklyn, it's the same reason you love Brooklyn: There's a special vibration here that people feel and see, that I'm not sure we can put into words. I've been here since 1983 and I still can't describe the feeling without either getting emotional or sounding like "Ah, he's from Brooklyn, that's why he's saying that."

Photos John Midgley

Brooklyn Circus Lookbook
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Brooklyn Circus Lookbook

By John Midgley

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