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Denim Tears Opens First New York Flagship as Cultural Hub on the Black Diaspora

Denim Tears is expanding its reach with a new flagship.

The fashion label is opening its first New York flagship on Friday at 176 Spring Street as a cultural hub that expands on the brand’s storytelling mission on the Black diaspora. Denim Tears founder Tremaine Emory worked with American artist Theaster Gates for the storefront.

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Titled “African Diaspora Goods,” the Denim Tears New York City store will showcase the brand’s latest seasonal collections alongside a selection of more than 1,500 books, catalogues and periodicals on the “visual and performative cultures of the Indigenous peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa,” according to the brand.

Inside the Denim Tears New York store
Inside the Denim Tears New York store.

The library was informed by and continues Gates’ work archiving and showcasing historical Black images. The collection was curated by Lee and Whitney Kaplan, who own Culver City, Calif.-based art book store Arcana: Books on Arts.

The addition of the robust library alongside the brand’s fashion is meant to offer customers a community space to gather and learn more about the history of African arts.

Inside the Denim Tears New York store
Inside the Denim Tears New York store.

During the 2023 Fashion Tech Forum, Emory spoke about how Denim Tears’ mission of storytelling started from its inception, stating: “Denim Tears is really inspired by Wales Bonner, Martine Rose and Supreme. Like, Supreme once in a blue [moon] would do Martin Luther King Jr. hoodies or Malcolm X hoodies or things like that. I was like, what if there was a brand that told stories even deeper? We always hear about Malcolm X and Harriet Tubman — and they’re amazing, incredible activists and stories — but what if I told other stories that aren’t really spoken about or taught and do it in the format of clothing and make it very subversive? That’s how I started Denim Tears.”

The store’s location is also symbolic for Emory. The storefront formerly housed streetwear brands Union and then Stüssy. Emory has a relationship with both brands, which have helped inform his work as a fashion designer over the years.

Denim Tears’ store opening is Emory’s latest initiative after stepping down from his role as creative director of VF Corp.-owned Supreme after holding the position for more than a year. At the time, Emory stated his resignation was due to “systemic racial issues” at the brand.

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