Brett Johnson, son of the first black millionaire and founder of Black Entertainment Television, has been hungry. He hasn’t allowed his family ties to exceptional success determine his future. Rather, he’s created a name for himself in a field all his own; the ever changing and impenetrable world of fashion. While the fashion world is not easy to break into (as Kanye West will have you know), Johnson never let trepidation and self-doubt slow him down. His first steps into the fashion world has been the biggest jump forward career wise for the 25-year-old, starting in 2013 with his fall/winter collection of men’s shoes and apparel. He has since taken his career even further with new, bold, seasonal trend setting additions to his collection, as well as making moves outside of fashion and into the world of entertainment, one he considers a huge inspiration for his work. We had a chance to talk about the young man’s continual rise to top, his recent launch online with Neiman Marcus and his daring plans for his promising future.
Your parents are very successful in the media & entertainment world. How did you end up taking the fashion route instead of gravitating towards their same industry.
I’ve been in this fashion mind for quite some time-I’ll say since I was about 6 or 7. As I grew older I started collecting shoes, specifically air force ones. I would source fabrics from all over the world-spain, italy, portugal,japan, and I would take the fabrics and the leathers up to New York City and have them applied to the shoe and that’s where I began. Once I created my aesthetic, I began making people aware of my footwear and apparel.
You attended the University of Michigan but you dropped out after 2 years to pursue fashion, what gave you the guts to do this?
Yes, I finally got the blessing from both my parents to pursue my dreams which is fashion and film. So once I had that support from my parents, I just went for it. And now here I am making big strides in fashion.
The collection that you have now consist of high end outerwear and shoes. Do you plan on expanding your collection?
We’re pulling back from footwear for the time being. However for SS16 we’ll be introducing woven shirts and trousers and we’ll have more knitwear and outerwear.
Are there any designers that have had a great influence on you and your work?
There’s more than one but I have to say Georgio Armani because of his work ethic; first person in the building and last to leave. I think it’s special to find someone that determined and that driven. He could easily retire because he’s accomplished so much in the fashion world but the fact that he’s still open to learn new ideas while continuing to work hard is admirable.
So, we have to ask about this awesome deal with Neiman Marcus. You launched the collection online on July 1st and you’ll be in 8 stores coming this fall, how did you land that?
We were pitching to Neiman Marcus for a while just to do a trunk show with them and it finally came into fruition last October. So we did the trunk show & from there we got a call from their headquarters down in Dallas requesting to see the line and they were sold. It was on from there.
So we know right now you’re focused on menswear but do you ever see yourself venturing into womens?
[laughs] I get asked that question quite a bit. I would say we’re about 3 to 4 years away from going into that realm of things.
What advice can you give to any aspiring creatives who have no industry contacts?
You have to believe in your product and your design skills. People will always have inputs on what they think you should or should not be doing but the biggest voice is yours. So I would say don’t feed into other people’s comments about your brand and just keep the faith and have the confidence.
Check out some of Brett’s pre-fall collection above and shop the collection here!
Contributing Writer: Trone