Romero Bryan interview

“It is widely acknowledged that designers from the UK produce some of the world’s most cutting-edge fashion; one of them being Romero Bryan, 30.

Mr Bryan’s talent and innovation have been widely recognized by members of the international fashion press and fashionistas.

From a young age, London-born Romero Bryan aspired to become a world-renowned fashion designer and he began to hone his skills for design and creation at just thirteen. Mr Bryan has fashion in his genes – both his grandfather and uncle were tailors, whilst his grandmother was a seamstress. Mr. Bryan’s designs first caught the media’s attention in 2001, when UK singer Samantha Mumba attended the Brit Awards in a Romero Bryan dress with a plunging neckline.

Mr Bryan graduated from the London College of Fashion in late 2005 and his career took off soon after. His designs have been worn by ‘A-List’ celebrities across the globe including Alek Wek, Cameron Diaz, Destiny’s Child, The Noisette’s lead lady & Fashion Icon Shingai, Mariah Carey and Usher, to name but a few. Romero Bryan’s garments have also been purchased by Kate Moss, Katy Perry & much more. Over the years, Mr Bryan’s clientele has broadened and the “boy wonder” (Vogue.com) has matured into a wonderful young man.

Romero Bryan’s talent, hard work, determination and potential have been recognized by Philip Beresford in the predicted ‘Rich List 2020’compiled for the Royal Bank of Scotland. The list appeared in international publications such as Forbes Magazine.

Most recently named on the Lloyds TSB & Thomson Reuters ‘POWERLIST 2013’ as one of ‘BRITAINS MOST INFLUENTIAL BLACK PEOPLE’.”

1)What does it mean to belong?

For me personally, “to belong” means to be at peace with your surroundings and therefore to feel safe. Honestly, it’s taken me close to 3 decades to feel I belong to any particular group in society.

2)How do you define ‘Home’ and what does this mean individually and/or collectively?

Funnily enough, my cousins and I were talking about this at last Sunday’s family dinner. Born in the U.K. to Jamaican/Cuban parents, I have never known anywhere to be home.
If I called the U.K. home, my British friends would always ask “but where are  you really from?” Most of the times I’d wind them up and reply with the name of the hospital and ward I was born in here in London. And if I called either Jamaica or Cuba my home, my relatives that were actually born there would disagree and accuse me of being British because I’m entitled to benefits they’d never receive being a British citizen.Truth be told though, since visiting the African continent several times for work, it’s become so much easier for me to say “Africa” in response to when people ask me where I’m from. No one dares to even argue with me when I claim Africa as my home. So yes, the motherland, AFRICA is my true home. I feel so safe and comfortable when I visit Africa, and whenever I encounter any problems there, it’s ok because I know it’s nothing to do with the colour of my skin haha. Home is a safe space. And Africa always feels like a safe space whenever I go, and I have walked through civil wars on my many trips to Africa, but I’ve come to the conclusion that if anything is to happen to me to end my life, it should be there back in my original home, AFRICA.

3)What does being of two or more nationalities and/or races bring into one’s life and into your work? How does it affect your overall perspective on life and on your identity?

Another conversation I had with my family members a few weeks back. With cousins marrying into different cultures and races, I’d often pose the question to my cousins and siblings about what it means to be of mixed heritage. I’ve often wondered what it felt to be a mixed race relative who when visiting one side of the family looked more like them and then the other side that looked nothing like them. One thing I will say is, I’ve learnt sometimes even just asking questions out of curiosity can offend. A mixed-race relative of mine shared with me, that often they’re privy to hearing conversations that one side of their family have and compare and contrast experiences, making them a much more balanced person in life. Which I suppose is a good skill to have. But I can’t use one person’s life experiences to paint a picture of the majority. Because  I know some mixed race friends who feel they have to identify with one race regardless of being a mix of both from early ages.

4)You travel a lot for your work within the fashion industry, what do you think are the effects of consistent travel and movement? How do you stay grounded?

I am exposed to meeting such beautiful and diverse people whilst travelling. I meet people from the get-go, sitting in airport lounges and on the planes, to people attending my presentations in different countries. These interactions with people from all backgrounds, makes me appreciate my life as it is now but also makes me strive to want to be more. And in answer to your “grounded” question, my bank statements come through at the end of each month, which keeps me firmly grounded haha 🙂

5)What role do race and religion play in the decision to migrate elsewhere, whether it be migration on an internal scale or a global scale, and how does the anticipation of one’s reception in relation to the reception of arrival to a new country relate?

I remember the first time I was invited to the middle east and heard stories of homosexual men being beheaded and blacks being spat upon and it made me even question turning down an opportunity to present my work to that region. Luckily, I was talked around into attending and it has since afforded me so much other opportunities since. But being a black gay man can definitely have it’s downsides to wanting to travel the world.

6)Does it seem as safe to you to travel as a person of colour?

Last month I was invited to Budapest to attend an EU creative arts conference and present my collection, and I was terrified because again I heard stories of black tourists being attacked, both verbally and physically. I went and had the best time ever. People there were so nice. Often I went into restaurants and managers refused to let me pay my bill because they said I was a guest in their country. I’ve come to the conclusion that if something is going to happen, it’s going to happen, but I’m not going to not go places because of horror stories I’ve heard. Horrible things are happening here in London, in our very own backyards.

7)After seeing events such as the Charlottesville riots and the general growth in racial tension/Islamophobia due to events such as Brexit, ‘domestic terrorism’ and the rise/fall of Trump, do you, as a person of colour, still see migration in a positive light?

Racism and Islamophobia is nothing new! It’s just now there is social media to give people like us a voice to air our experiences in the global community. It’s the same shit, just a different day.There have always been and will always be characters like Trump globally who are racist.To be honest, I prefer the upfront racism I give those racists more respect because they let everyone know where they stand, it’s the institutional racism that I can’t stand. The micro-aggressive racism that you’re unable to document. Migration will continue regardless because people are always wanting to travel to better themselves and the people in their lives they love. Racism and Islamophobia will not stop migration. I mean the torches used by the racists in Charlottesville were invented by nonwhites, they need us more than they’re willing to admit haha.