Mississippi designer takes Hoodvenchy to NY Fashion Week

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) – Finding a niche in the fashion industry takes determination, dedication and, of course, an eye for design.

Just ask Vicksburg-based Raymond Banks, who recently returned from the Big Apple where he was one of the fashion designers invited to attend New York Fashion Week.

Banks started out designing bows, and his love of fashion grew from there, he says.

“I started designing in 2013. I did a loop for a Black History Month program at our church, and that one loop catapulted me into the fashion industry,” Banks said.

People started asking who made the bow tie and where they could get one.

“I just thought I made it,” he said.

The young designer’s business took off and for the next five years Banks made and designed unique bow ties.

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In 2018, he launched his Hoodvenchy brand, which earned him a spot on the catwalk.

Banks said the Hoodvenchy concept started as a joke, inspired by the name of the luxury brand Givenchy.

“It wasn’t supposed to be a brand at all,” he said.

But Banks’ parody of designer labels turned out to be well-received.

“A friend from Jackson State asked me to do a fashion show with his modeling team, and I was like, ‘I’ll do it, but I had to bring something different than what I usually do,'” he said.

So, inspired by the luxury brand scandals that ravaged the design world in 2018, Banks said: “You know what, I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to make fun of them, so I’m going to do hoodvenchy.

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“People loved the brand and they loved the name,” he added. “And from there Hoodvenchy was born.”

One of the pieces Banks designed for the Hoodvenchy brand was a leather coat emblazoned with a list of well-known fashion brands with their names crossed out.

“It started with Gucci and Prada, Louis Vuitton and Fendi. Those names were crossed out, but I wrote Hoodvenchy on the bottom and circled them,” Banks said, adding that the design was intended to convey the message to “cross out and cross out” world-renowned top designers and select Hoodvenchy instead.

For the New York show, Banks’ collection was titled “Fall Term at Hoodvenchy University,” and he described the 28-piece collection as streetwear that included tracksuits, hoodies and down jackets.

The entire collection is androgynous, Banks said, and can be worn by both men and women.

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“This line was all about comfort; nothing was restrictive, and there were no avant-garde looks there,” Banks said. “Everything was accessible everyday objects.”

Before New York Fashion Week, Banks said he attended Los Angeles Fashion Week, which took place in March.

And now that he’s back home, a fashion show is planned in Vicksburg.

“I gave LA my time, I gave New York my time. Now it’s time for me to let the folks in Vicksburg see these works up close. They can see a video — that’s fine, and they can see pictures, but I want to allow them to see the clothes themselves,” he said.

Banks said he hopes to have the fashion show sometime in October.

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