Black and Hispanic families are flocking to the Bronx to live in affordable family-sized high rise apartments. Prior to this, the Bronx is home to Italian- Americans, Irish- Americans and large groups of Jewish- Americans.
The South Bronx is dealing with a failing educational system, white flight, and landlords burning down buildings that they can’t profit from. These conditions, unsurprisingly, result in neighborhood cliches inspired by the outlaw mentality of the most iconic gang in America at the time- the “Hells Angels”.
The Cross Bronx Expressway, the brainchild of urban planner Robert Moses, is completed. The plan is to make it easier for commuters to live uptown and work downtown. Unfortunately his plan has major negative effects. Accused of favoring “car culture” instead of subways, the highway displaces thousands of residents and businesses. Property values plummet. A nearly bankrupt local government tries to force white landlords to convert their rapidly emptying buildings into Section 8 housing. Instead, landlords burn down their buildings for insurance. #TheBronxIsBurning
Scrambling for limited resources, the Bronx gangs are fiercely protective of their territory. And though they can not become actual members of the Hell’s Angels because they are not white, they can dress like them. To separate themselves from their rivals, gang members started wearing motorcycle vests with custom patches to symbolize their allegiance to their crew.
Bronx’s neighborhood gangs declare a truce after growing wary of the escalating violence. The climate on the street changes- and as a result, so does the fashion. Rather than risk being ostracized for continuing to wear motorcycle vests, what develops is a style that reflected the Bronx’s new culture of dance and graffiti—what ultimately becomes hip-hop culture. Self-styled custom denim vests with graffiti-style art on the back, like those created by our first hero Zimad, becomes the new remix of the old motorcycle vest.
Today the biggest threat to the Bronx is that it’s a borough that is constantly overlooked and underrated. Not just in the case of general popularity, but especially in fashion. Soho and Brooklyn are most often mentioned in conversations about the New York fashion scene. But the Bronx is not even considered.
That’s why local fashion heroes like Amaurys, The Ambassador, have a plan to use fashion to win the support of the people. His weapon of choice- his fashion line, The Bronx Native. His bullets are iconic Bronx specific imagery, like Cardi B’s sassiness and bodacious bodegas. #ShotsFired
Jessica, The Influencer, is using Instagram to embolden women in the Bronx and around the world. She wields her significant social media influence to SLAYYYYYYYY insecurity and self-doubt.
The BX is so misrepresented that real estate developers are ridiculously rebranding it as the Piano District. And with the eerie mist of cooption threatening to take over the BX as it has Brooklyn and Harlem, it takes two heroes to fight off evil and protect their hood. Enter Citoblanko, The Hustler and Diego, The Connoisseur who both know it takes style to fight doom. Utilizing the sharp styles of sartorial ninja stars (aka bow ties) and custom couture, they’re living proof that the BX has an eclectic style.
For the Bronx, it is a period of rebuilding (which is not code for gentrifying). Locals are tapping into the ingenuity that spawned hip-hop and using the arts ie music, graffiti and fashion to reclaim the street cred that the Bronx is due. They are celebrating a new era when people will finally realize the dopeness that is the Bronx.
Right now, the future of the Bronx is caught in a stranglehold by the threat of gentrification. There is a genuine fear of displacement by newcomers who seek to profit under a new real estate regime. A 2017 New York Times article that lists the Bronx as “the next best place to visit” unfortunately does not mean a substantial spike in tourism, but rather a heightened threat of co-option.
Though it’s a period of great stride and turmoil, many are fighting to have the truth known. Like Adam, The Disruptor, who is using knowledge to break down myths about the Bronx and its community. A brilliant blogger, he faces off against the terror of displacement to cultivate borough pride.
Jerome Lamaar, the future of fashion in the borough, lives to use design to put the BX on the fashion map- especially bc it’s unexpected. He acts as guardian and protector to their minority artists, defending his hometown from any threat that might dare to misrepresent the potential of the Bronx.
By combining their forces, these fashion heroes are revolutionizing the fashion landscape of a long forgotten fashion community.
No challenge is too great for The Boogie Down Brigade. They’re here to put the BX on the map. They’re here to show that the same innovativeness that spawned the greatest music movement the world has ever seen is still alive and ready to takeover.
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