Houston White, a North Minneapolis native was introduced to design at nine years old. This fall, his years of hard work are being injected into an exclusive menswear-inspired brand at Target – the ultimate shopping destination for arguably any and everyone.
White recalls during high school he would screen print T-shirts with his mentor – leading him to eventually sell the shirts out of his backpack to make extra money. For years, he’s been inspired by his community and the personal style he was exposed to since he was a hip-hop-loving kid. Now as an adult, he has launched his eponymous clothing line and continued to use fashion as a means of self-expression.
ESSENCE recently caught up with Houston, in conversation he touched on his biggest inspirations, what fans can expect from his collection, and more.
ESSENCE: What’s your guiding light and compass that keeps you going?
White: The idea of bringing Black culture forward in a really inclusive but high-level way. Black culture, specifically, has so much influence on world fashion. [My guiding light is figuring out] how to pull all those [influences] together and make something new, and feel fresh, and always on time, but yet still timeless.
How important is a sense of community to the work that you do as a designer?
It’s extremely important. My first fashion week show was ever done in North Minneapolis because that is how I learned about fashion. My high school was known for a fashion show [every day] and winning best dressed was the most coveted prize. You get your inspiration from [your] community, so it’s my inspiration. It’s where I want to be. It’s just the energy, the vibe is irreplaceable. So [community] is critical.
Can you walk us through what inspired you with this Target collection?
I’ve always loved the preppy aesthetic. And so my inspiration was, how do I bridge my living experiences, everything from Sunday’s best and if you’re a black person that went to church, it’s all about bringing your best self every day. My mom had a significant influence on me because she always wanted me to be “resh. And so those inspirations of the folks that raised me, and the esteem of being Black and presenting yourself well, but then also being a kid that grew up in with the emergence of hip-hop and had to mix these worlds between that regal, timeless, ‘60s style, but then add a little edge, and a little flare, and a little fun. It’s American-style reborn, new classics if you will.
What are the main aesthetics and pieces that can be expected in this multiyear brand partnership with Target?
The main aesthetic, I would say is timeless American style with [an] Afrocentric, yet futuristic twist. Pieces like vests that have a quilted back. My grandmother used to make quilts, and so this whole collection is about weaving together multiple eras and influences, but also multiple cultures too.
What was it like working with Target?
The cool thing about it is the relationship built. I think that’s why this collection came across so well because we got to know each other. [We didn’t] just dive in and try to be transactional. I got to lead culturally and Target provided deep knowledge, wisdom, and understanding about what would work and also gave me help to build relationships with so many different folks that [helped] bring this collection to life.
Shop the Houston White x Target Collaboration here.