Talking Fashion and Identity with Designer Ellington Bramwell PO '19
Charlie Kolbrener | Feb. 10, 2017, 10:41 a.m.
Who wouldn’t conflate Charlie Brown with his iconic yellow zig-zag shirt? For some, fashion is a rather passive presentation of their uniform. However, many view fashion and their clothing choices as a form of artistic expression. It is not just garb to shield one from the elements; rather, fashion has become an intimate form of art produced upon the canvas of the body. Every person’s approach to clothing is different, and I find these distinctions fascinating.
Personally, I first became interested in fashion based on a desire to look better, which was preceded by low self-confidence in my appearance. Wearing sweaters layered on top of button down shirts in a reiteration of JFK's northeastern masculinity was the first step in my quest to find personal style. Five years later, I don’t really find myself trying to recreate other styles; I attempt to create my own style every day.
However, I feel it is important to reiterate this point: I am not condemning or commending any approach to fashion. It is the very distinction between differing approaches that intrigues me. Thus, this column will attempt to unearth the different methods of engaging with clothing by interviewing people who subscribe to many different styles.
I think that most people who have seen Ellington Bramwell PO '19 around campus would recognize his trademark vibrantly painted Vans or overalls. The founder of SUBTL clothing line, Bramwell is a bit of a fashion icon of the 5Cs. I interviewed him about his personal style, his design process, and his up and coming brand.
TSL: How did you become interested in fashion?
Ellington Bramwell: So it was very similar to music where I got a lot of interest from my older brother. He put me on to just a lot of things that I like. Things like musically: Kanye, Kid Cudi. And then for fashion it’s just a vibe of "do what you wanna do" kinda thing, and not really worry about others. In high school I actually began taking more production courses. There I actually had an opportunity to have my creative persona flourish. Within my past internship this summer, that’s where I actually founded SUBTL clothing line. I have a vision and I need to carry out that vision on my own. That’s so far been my timeline.
TSL: Can you talk more about your internship?
EB: I was a social media intern at CBS consumer products. All my duties were concerning managing the social media platforms for the Star Trek franchise and other CBS properties. I realized I had the interest within marketing; however, I also realized it was not my ideal line of work. It actually kickstarted my drive to pursue my own vision of starting my clothing line.
TSL: What brands/people inspire you?
EB: So these are old brands. Shoutout to Kanye’s Pastelle. And also shout out to Pharrell’s Billionaire Boys Club. And also Ice Cream. If we’re talking about today’s youth and everything, I have to draw on my best friends here. Shoutout to Rae’quan Nelson, shoutout to Senque Littlepool. To be honest just like anyone on their grind is an inspiration because they just have their own vision and encourage you to follow yours to the fullest.
TSL: What is your creative process like for designing?
EB: So a lot of things I do are very intuitive. And then within intuitiveness there is also great deliberation because at the end of the day it is a vision that I want to see carried through. With any other vision it is kinda like your baby. You want to make sure everything is right, every line is precise, every color is perfect. You want the reality to match your imagination. So my creative process is very tedious. But at the end of the day it’s all about the final product.
TSL: How would you describe your personal style?
EB: Several people have asked me this. And I lowkey have the same answer. I do what I want. It’s kinda like I do what I want, I like what I like, and I create what I see. The whole idea is a lot of the stuff that are my favorites are self-created. And then one idea is like a lot of things that we consider normal, I want to give a new personality. Give a new identity to. Such as painting on clothing, painting on shoes and everything, patches, kind of just like rendering everything that’s been given to your own style.
TSL: What are your favorite pieces?
EB: My favorite pieces are … well, I distress slacks. My distressed dress pants, my painted overalls, various tee shirts, my boots that I paint on. I have painted vans; striped long sleeves are my favorite. Hoodies, hats, and like bright shoes… and also colorful socks.
TSL: Do you have anything else you want to say?
EB: Yeah, my final points would be: be on the lookout for SUBTL clothing. Instagram is @be_subtl. Website is on its way. World domination is coming soon.