By Morgan A Grain | Photographs By Diane Allford – 4 HWM
Walking into Red Rooster, it wasn’t too long before I spotted Jonathan Bodrick, owner of b.o.r.n boutique—borrowed.old.refurbished.new—located on E125th street. Bodrick donned a salmon cloth blazer and a top hat with an imprint of a face.
“It’s called The Roosevelt. It’s something new that we are selling tonight,” he says as he points to a little nook at the front of the restaurant, which flaunted several of his lovely refurbished designs.
You might know Bodrick and his crew from their show b.o.r.n to style, which airs on the fyi network. Accompanied by his fellow cast members JJ Langan and Terry Artis, Bodrick agreed to sell a few of his items for the restaurant’s fashion showcase held during New York Fashion Week. Describing the style of his clothing as impeccable, spirited and chic, Bodrick’s idea of true success is creating opportunities for others.
“Even if I don’t sell anything tonight, I just want to introduce myself to people and make connections,” says Bodrick. And when it comes to their clients, the band of style gurus desire to make them feel confident and complete. Not to say that before they walk into their boutique they aren’t already confident and whole in their own unique ways, but
when they come in for a makeover and are consulted, “the lights come on in their eyes,” adds JJ.
“Write that down,” Bodrick tells me. An amusing habit he displayed all night whenever he heard a great answer he thought worthy of print. “We deal with a lot of clients who are lost in transition. They have a style, but are wanting to become more professional or want to add more color,” says JJ.
“ We are all about personal style and thinking outside of the box. It’s more about creative growth, personality and being who you are,” says Bodrick. Their message is one of inclusion, unity and love.
The show’s cast, other members including Brandon Hood, Devin Stokes and Kristen Brown, has been racking up on awards lately as well. They have already won
a Taste award and have added a GLAAD nomination under their belts for Outstanding Reality Program. A few days before they were honored at the Dapper to
Dope Men of Fashion event held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture hosted by Michaela Angela Davis. The event represented a movement to
change the perception of men’s fashion, especially for men of color.
“ It highlighted the different stages that boys go through. A lot of men can be intimidated by a suit, especially if their job doesn’t require them to wear one. It is
seen as stuffy,” explains Bodrick.
“And we don’t do bummy, we don’t do ratchet. We want to transition from hoodies to 3-piece suits and still have it considered to be dope,” adds JJ.
“Exactly. So the idea we have is to gradually introduce them to pieces that can go with their lifestyle,” continues Bodrick. “So instead of wearing an entire suit,
we tell them they can wear a blazer with jeans. It can be affordable. It can be a nice navy or khaki suit.”
“Fashion is non-verbal communication, it’s an inside job,” adds JJ. “We are always saying something [with our clothing] so it is about being aware of what we are saying.”The playful and effortless banter between these two made for entertaining and light-hearted conversation. Apparently the jokes and laughter is a permanent staple of their relationship.
“This is us all of the time. What you see on our show is how we are in real life,” explains JJ. Hard to believe with the myriad of scripted faux-reality TV shows airing. But the two are genuinely best friends, and even have each other’s style down to a science.
“JJ loves anything tailored. It has to be tailored and fit well.”
“That’s Jonathan with a J,” jokes Bodrick before they both erupt in laughter. “Jonathan can see the potential in clothes. It’s like he can pick up an old pair of khaki trousers and style them instantly.”
Bodrick’s sense of style came at an early age, and he contributes his taste to the men in his family who owned top hats and impeccably tailored suits as well as
his love for pictures of The Savoy in Harlem.
“How could I not be influenced by Harlem? If you think about the people that lived here like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, I always wonder what street did they walk down? What clothes were they wearing? I feel that spirit in my clothes.”
And although both men feel there is a lack of diversity and imagination in today’s fashion world, self-determination is what will change its landscape.
“We have to do it ourselves. You know how everyone was in a huff about the Oscars snubbing Selma, we just need to forget them. We need to focus on our world;
the Soul Train Awards, BET Honors, the NAACP awards. That is for us. We aren’t going to fit into that.”