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First, you have to get past the dichotomy— a Paris-based label that shares a name with a culturally booming area of New York City. Once you’ve come to accept it, Brooklyn We Go Hard’s deceptively simple take on menswear will have you hooked. It isn’t boring clothing at all, the details and narrative behind each collection being more carefully thought out than the all-over print on your average streetwear garb. Think of it as true menswear in a classical sense, designed with a sense of restraint rather than seasonal shock and awe.

David Obadia, co-founder of the French fashion brand, is a creative’s creative. He cares about things like the context his brand fits into, and draws inspiration from a wealth of sources. “I hope that all the inspiration I get from my favourite artists improves my work,” he says. “I recently met Evan Robarts and Dean Levin in Brooklyn and I love their creations. I also love the work of young artists such as Lucien Smith or Ethan Cooke.” Obadia obsesses over inspiration from everything but fashion and distills it into the singular vision of BWGH’s subtle shirting, clever sweatshirts and colorful accessories.

David is young. This gets brought up a lot. He’s not tired of talking about that fact at all, surprisingly. “I am not fed up with the question! I know that I am quite young in this industry, but for me, youth is a synonym of energy and dynamism,” Obadia says. He’s humble as well, as he notes, “I know I have capacities to discover. I still need to improve myself.”

The clothes themselves have improved season to season, starting like many brands do from a capsule collection of tshirts. What isn’t typical is how quickly the brand has come into its own, found its voice and ended up earning clear stamps of approval from fashion powerhouses like Opening Ceremony and Colette. “We have now been collaborating with Colette for three seasons. We met their buyer Sarah at a trade show, and after the success of the ‘Colette Parle Français’ sweatshirt we developed a really strong relationship with them,” Obadia says.

The brand’s timelessness that connects BWGH to menswear in a traditional sense is what sets the brand apart. A lot of press about the brand looks at it through the lens of what happens when a streetwear sensibility meets a high-end approach, but they’ve got it all wrong. BWGH is about a high-end sensibility filtered through a streetwear approach, rooted in the youth, culture, and dynamism that Obadia mentioned earlier. The clothing is impeccably constructed, sure, but this is about more than the clothes. This is about a larger vision of what matters to the modern man: great clothing is just one small part of a great life.

The tshirts that birthed the brand featured the work of young photographers. Along the way, as the collection grew, David knew that the mission wasn’t always about the collections. BWGH launched a print publication featuring engaging photography that has become just as important to the brand, and who knows what else will come down the line— Obadia is reserved when asked. He assures, though, that it will all fit as part of the overall BWGH mission. “It is so good to bring your own vision to an industry that already has strong codes,” Obadia says.

“We’re really grateful to meet and work with amazing people we admire, like Ronnie Fieg, who has become a really good friend of mine and helped us a lot in the process,” Obadia says. “It’s the part of the work that has made me really proud of what we’ve achieved so far.”  This speaks to that collective mentality and that connection to culture; what really matters here is that the brand doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It doesn’t sit in your closet distinct from everything else. BWGH becomes better with context and how it fits into your wardrobe and lifestyle.

“We just try to make timeless clothes with our own twists that gently change the codes of a typical wardrobe,” David says when asked if he feels like the brand takes risks. There’s something special about what is going on with BWGH, because it has an ear to the street, its finger on the pulse of culture, it gets to experiment ever-so-slightly more than your usual menswear brand without turning into a costume. “We always have the customer in mind; we want our clothes to be wearable, although never at the expense of expressing our creativity.”

Creativity comes up often when David speaks; something that most other people might take for granted as a given in the fashion industry, he treasures and treats with a certain sense of reverence. David shares, “I have always been surrounded by people that love art. My father used to have a denim brand and my mother has always been close to the art scene. They gave me a passion for colors, materials and textures. That is why, maybe, I wanted to explore this industry for myself.” What’s evident after hearing about his parents and making a few assumptions about his upbringing is that Obadia did much more than just swim through a scene of artsy-fartsy family friends; he seems to have absorbed an advanced and mature take on leading a life full of creative ideas and the work ethic to bring those ideas to life.

That creative obsession is clearest when David talks about the arts; he mentions that he isn’t an expert, but manages to rattle off the names of both established and emerging talents with the confidence of a seasoned gallerist. He cites specifically the work of photographer Martha Camarillo. “I love her Fletcher Street series. It impressed me a lot.” Camarillo’s landmark work explores a community in a run-down area of Philadelphia where a long-standing and long-hidden practice of horse-riding offers residents an escape, even if only temporary, from their harsh reality.

“I want to make collections that reflect more and more what I like and want to wear each day,” Obadia says. Thankfully for all, what Obadia likes spreads across a wide-range of possible influences. From the cheeky graphics on the early tees to recent experiments with colorblocking, Obadia leaves very few stones unturned during the creative process. “What is obvious is that I want BWGH to keep the same strong identity as it evolves over time. Even if we change our tastes a little here and there, as we get older, the goal is still to create an elegant wardrobe that continues to play with colors, specific cuts, and fabrics.”

“Each collection is a complete thought,” Obadia says when asked about what he feels separates BWGH from everything else on the rack. He encapsulates everything the brand stands for, all the art that inspires him, and what makes the brand truly special in one deceptively simple statement:  “Our clothes are made to be worn by an open and passionate generation.”

Words by Jose R. Mejia.
Photography by Ludovic Zuili.

This story was originally featured in ACCLAIM Issue 30 – The After Dark Issue.