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Fifteen Years and Counting: Black-Owned Design Collective The Brooklyn Circus Continues Offering Innovative Menswear and Celebrates Line With Macy’s

The Brooklyn Circus is not just another an eclectic fashion boutique in New York City. It’s so much more. It’s a Brooklyn experience — and a successful one to boot.

Opened in 2006 by Ouigi Theodore, The Brooklyn Circus  is a retro yet fashion-forward clothing store. It is also a showcase of art, culture, and the history of the Black aesthetic. The Brooklyn Circus owner once described his style to The New York Times as a mix of James Brown, Liberace, and Fred Astaire. This jazzy funk mix of fashion inspiration will tell you a lot about The Brooklyn Circus and its brand, The Brooklyn Circus/BKc.

Ouigi Theodore (L, in hat) in promotional photo for Ouigi Theodore for Macy’s Sun + Stone. (Photo provided by Ouigi Theodore for Macy’s Sun + Stone)

The Brooklyn Circus sells more than fashion. It sells a lifestyle. Shoppers will not only will you find casual pants, T-shirts, and varsity-inspired garments but the artwork in a gallery section called the Rose Marie Ines Gallery. Named after three of the most influential women in Theodore’s life — his grandmother, mother, and sister (respectively) — it is a photo gallery. “I love the power of photography, and I built the space to engage with some of my favorite photographers and create space to discover other great and interesting photographers from our Global Village,” Theodore explained to Finurah.

“Back 15 years ago, people didn’t get the concept, especially when I was trying to get money from banks,” Theodore said. “But I think the interesting thing about being Black in America is you always have to overprove yourself.”

“What The Brooklyn Circus was when we launched it in 2006, what it is today and what we hope for it to be 85 years from now will look like three different things. But at the core, we are and will always be a community of thinkers, making necessary goods for good people across the world through our Global Village,” says Theodore, who explains he is a graphic designer-turned-creative director and most recently a creative activist. He has consulted on advertising campaigns for Hennessy, Toyota, and Casio G-Shock.

Theodore’s aesthetic and knack for fashion grabbed the attention of retail giant Macy’s.

He collaborates with Macy’s to sell menswear under Ouigi Theodore for Macy’s Sun + Stone. It’s an affordable fashion line, hoping to tap into the $114.1 billion American menswear industry. In September he debuted his third and final collection as part of Macy’s Icons of Style initiative.

Ouigi Theodore (R, in hat) sitting in front of The Brooklyn Circus (Photo from Instagram (@thebkcircus)

Theodore plans to expand the brand BKc; he will also be offering popup shows and is restarting distribution in Japan and Europe, which had been halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the biggest venture in the works is The Brooklyn Circus Clubhouse, which will offer customers short stays and include a cafe. “We want to give customers a full Brooklyn Circus experience — through the environment, food, art, and retail,” Theodore said. “We tell people come to the Circus.”

Ouigi is originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and came to Brooklyn at age 8. He graduated from the State University at Stony Brook with a degree in history. He also studied graphic design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Before starting his own business he worked as a graphic designer and a club promoter. Then he entered fashion. Before long, he was being referred to as a menswear guru. For a bit he ran another boutique before coming up with the concept for The Brooklyn Circus.

Ouigi’s Haitian heritage also plays a significant role in The Brooklyn Circus style. “Being Haitian is at the core of who I am, and I didn’t realize that until I started going back and forth to Haiti more frequently 10 years ago,” he shares. “At the heart of The Brooklyn Circus/BKc is community, longevity, details, repetition, and people — and these are all rooted in my Haitian heritage.”

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