Young Detroit man finds passion in fashion
By Raina L. Baker
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — “Working for someone else can be a great experience but it takes (even more) hard work and passion to work for yourself,” says Harry Richmond, a rising fashion guru in the metropolitan area. “We take more honor in what is ours.”
Richmond, affectionately known as Harry Rich, unexpectedly became interested in fashion when he lost interest in what he believed was his career path, carpentry. Richmond says he not only despised getting dirty on the job all the time but wasn’t passionate about carpentry the way he is now about fashion.
He says he’s been interested in fashion for just three years but admits that he’s always been a bit of a conspicuous consumer. Richmond recalled being the kid with the newest, the hottest and the most expensive attire. But now as a young man interested in creating a brand that goes beyond a printed logo, he says he is learning how to be a more mature and fiscally responsible shopper and man of fashion. “I want to produce my own goods and keep money in the city at the same time,” he told the Michigan Citizen.
Richmond says he’s guilty of the same things his peers are guilty of: not circulating money in the city and giving their dollars to businesses disconnected from the city. In admitting and understanding his fiscal fashion flaw, he says the young people will better connect to him because he “knows where they’re coming from.”
“It’s hard not to get caught up in the names and brands but as I mature I know I have a greater responsibility,” Richmond says.
At 22, fashion is about more than dressing for the male fashionista. It’s about creative and sometimes even radical expression. “I’ve traveled to a few places and appreciated how vibrant their style of dress was and how out-of-box their fashion was. I wanted to bring that to the city and encourage young people to be confident, to be different. You gotta feel good in whatever you wear. Some people think the way I dress may be too much or I’ve even had people say some of the colors are feminine but if you’re comfortable, that’s all that matters.”
Richmond has hopes of opening a business called “Just Phresh” that will market to women, especially plus size. “Plus size women deserve to be in style just as much as average and petite size women,” Richmond says. “I don’t see a lot of flattering fashion available to plus size women so that’s my first move.” In addition to providing clothing, Richmond wants to include a salon and barbershop in his store and will serve as a personal stylist to customers. He says he’s banking on a boutique that will feature the newest styles and an amalgamation of the fashion he’s seen in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Tennessee and other places he’s visited. “Detroit’s got a lot of personality but we’re known for really matching, not fashion. I wanna tap into that.”
Richmond says that during these times, the youth have to tap into innovation. “Innovation is a form of escapism,” he said. “I come from a community where the youth don’t have much to look forward to. I grew up on Philadelphia and Third. Rather than be a product of my environment, I think I wanna produce for my environment.” He said he felt trapped in his neighborhood and can understand why so many young men in the city don’t branch out. But he says creating a business inspired by something he loves will be liberating. “God willing, the plans I have in the city will become a reality.”
He has sights set on Woodward and the Boulevard to start his business. Richmond says he’s already creating a business plan with several other college students. He is currently taking courses at Wayne State University as a declared Fashion Merchandising major.
In addition to his fashion endeavors, Richmond serves as a service leader at Freedom Schools. He admits he wasn’t sold on working with the program until he had a conversation with a friend and recognized that he would be interacting with the young people in the city.
Richmond says kids “drive me crazy,” but he’s also crazy about them. He has hopes of introducing youth to his business for them to shadow and learn the skills of entrepreneurship with him.
The Freedom School Program encourages literacy and leadership but he says he also likes the program because “the children are exposed to so much. And I’m being exposed to so much that I didn’t know about or appreciate before. It’s big motivation.”
Richmond says he decorated his Freedom School classroom in Hollywood theme and plays one of Jay-Z’s 2006 singles, “Hollywood” featuring Beyonce, every time the kids come in the classroom. He wants them to feel like superstars and that’s how he wants his customers to feel when they are styled by him or leave his store with something he designed. Richmond’s current project includes taking store-bought items like bow ties and redecorating them to market to a younger audience.
Richmond has modeled for Troy Yopp’s DYNASTY Clothing Line of Detroit and the Destiny Fashion Show with Clayton Cortez. Standing at six-feet tall with a bright smile and smooth almond skin, he says he has something to offer the fashion world beyond physical appearance, though fashion has helped him to appreciate himself aesthetically. “I struggled with appearance throughout high school but once I was comfortable with me, I decorated with fashion,” said Richmond. He encourages youth to “make fashion yours and let the way you dress speak to your personality.”
For young people interested in this season’s fashion but not looking to spend all of their summer job money, Richmond says to work with earth tones, oranges, greens and creams and to visit H&M clothing store or a thrift store.
“I’m young and I’m rich. Not because of money but because I’m happy, confident and rich at heart.”
To reach Harry Richmond, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or friend Harry Rich on Facebook.
Raina L. Baker is a journalism student at Howard University and will enter into her senior year in the fall. She is interning with the Michigan Citizen for the summer. Raina can be reached at email@example.com