They say necessity is the mother of invention. In 1998, two art school students found that to be true. In need of arts supplies for their upcoming semester, Khamisi Benford and Gaylesha Simmons came up with the idea to design and sell two of their original t-shirt designs at a local art fair. Inspired by the enthusiastic response, they decided to keep going and Blackfokapparel was born.
Since that day, Blackfokapparel has produced creative designs honoring the black experience. “I am not anti-anything,” says Benford, “But, I definitely am pro-black.” With that idea as a driving force, Benford had the motivation to continue to run the business after the unfortunate passing of his business partner and friend. “After she passed away, I took a three-year hiatus,” he explains, “However, I realized one of the best ways to be a tribute to her would be to rededicate myself to the business.”
Blackfokapparel is a Detroit-based fashion brand that is inspired by the people and the music of the city. “Detroit has some of the most genuine people in the world.” One of the most popular designs is WHATUREP?, inspired by the unique street layout of the city and its notorious mile roads. Another popular design is Stand Firm, a collection inspired by the death of Trayvon Martin and the birth of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Other shirts include designs dedicated to the celebration of Black women and Black love.
“Create-Innovate-Educate is our motto. We want Blackfokapparel to be a brand that is more than a slogan, it is a way of life.”