Co-founders Delena Mobley (dom) and Kim Blessing (bomb) talk about their new Read and Take Heed streetwear collection.
bomb (Kim): We decided to name our new collection “Read and Take Heed” (which we discovered can be appropriately shortened to RATH) Can you explain where that name comes from?
dom (Delena): It is funny now, but “read and take heed” is a directive I received from a mean (hella mean) old bus driver who found my middle school back-of-the-bus antics annoying. One day he stopped the bus in the middle of the street and growled at us kids to “shut up” before handing each of us an Alameda County Transit conduct pamphlet. I just rolled my eyes again while writing this. He then growls, “read and take head.” I laughed aloud before LOL was a thing, but I was curious about what take heed meant, so I went home and looked it up. Ah! Pay Attention! He could have just said that, but we would not have this amazing name for our streetwear collection. I was paying attention, and I have been saying it ever since. I bet that crotchety bus driver could not imagine that the little Black kid on the bus would indeed take heed to another level.
bomb: It's hilarious that this crusty white dude was handing out transit pamphlets to a bunch of kids, and expected something to happen. And I’m with you on the “take heed” part. So often on the internet you see people type “read a book” or “Google is free”. Reading is a good start, but it’s the take heed part that’s important. You need to act on that knowledge. It’s fine to see my shirt that says “Don’t Touch” but you also need to NOT TOUCH.
bomb: Streetwear is a departure from our launch collection, which was focused on essentials that can be incorporated into any wardrobe. Do you want to talk about why we made that decision?
dom: As a newly launched fashion brand, our Essentials line allowed us to get to know our customers and their needs. We quickly discovered that in today’s socio-political climate people feel especially entitled to touch or question everything and everyone! I mean, folks will try and touch my braids while standing in line at the store. Gross! The RATH collection is inspired by people and situations we have and will encounter on life’s journey. More than ever, we need to establish and set boundaries to protect our mental and physical well-being. RATH streetwear allows us to say it without having to. Just point to the hat: “Don’t Touch.” Easy.
bomb: I also realized through this process that most of my favorite fashion is streetwear. I feel the most comfortable in it, and when I have to depart from it, like in an office setting, it takes a lot of effort. I love the freedom of expression and the beauty of culture that’s inherent in it. Its roots are also in affordability and rebellion, which also speak to me. We’re going to talk more about the history of streetwear in our next blog post.
bomb: One of our most popular new products is the Brick House definition. We spent a ton of time on it; can you talk about where the definition came from?
dom: I come from a family of voluptuous women and my dad has called me a “brick house” since I was a little girl. The song by the Commodores was super popular growing up, and I understood from an early age that being mighty-mighty is an attribute. Recently, I asked my dad to define what it means in his own words. He quipped, “first of all, Brick House is an attitude not a body type.”
bomb: He is so right. It was tough to come up with a definition though; for me, it’s always been “I know it when I see it.” When you texted me after meeting one of our fit models for the first time – “she’s brick house!” – I knew exactly what you meant. (@tinytall on social – give her a follow!)
bomb: We’ve done a ton of research on streetwear; who would you say are your streetwear inspirations?
dom: I grew up in Oakland, California, where I was surrounded by folks who dressed to impress. Both hip hop and rock music have influenced my off-the-clock looks. Today, I find inspiration in everyday people who express themselves artistically through fashion. I love any designers who create streetwear fashion for everyone.
bomb: I grew up in a tiny white town in California, so a lot of what we did was copy you all. I didn’t really understand the influences until I grew up, and started learning and paying attention. I was really drawn to music video fashion, so I look up to stylists like Misa Hylton – we really need to be louder about the influence women have had on streetwear. But that’s a whole other blog post …
The Read and Take Heed streetwear collection is available now!