Dubbed “The Motor City’s Hottest Designer” by TIME Magazine, Roslyn Karamoko is the brainchild behind Détroit is the New Black.
The brand and concept store serve as both a popular downtown destination for the fashion line and a retail incubator for local artists and small businesses.
“Detroit is where you see creativity and opportunity intersect and I wanted the brand to reflect that with diversity and inclusion.”
EXP: What brought you to Detroit?
RK: I moved here in 2013 for love. The relationship didn’t work out, but I fell in love with Detroit’s creativity and history and knew I had to stay. There’s something intangible about the people and energy here. It’s a small-town vibe in a big city with a real sense community… I’ve lived in a lot of places and feel at home here.
EXP: What’s the meaning behind the brand’s name?
RK: I love the city’s French history (hence the accent on the letter e in Détroit) and art deco style, but there’s so much more under the surface. Sometimes it can be hard for people who are not familiar with the nuances to understand. Détroit is the New Black is a way to start conversations on everything from fashion to racial gentrification, and who is and who is not, included in Detroit’s current renaissance. It can be perceived in many ways and that’s the idea!
EXP: How did Détroit is the New Black get its start?
RK: Initially I printed 15 Détroit is the New Black t-shirts and gave them to my friends for Christmas. All of a sudden, people were stopping my friends on the streets to ask where they were from and how they could buy one. I started selling online, then at pop-ups, and would sell out instantly. You know you have a brand when you get an emotional response like that.
EXP: What’s next?
RK: We’re hosting unique events to engage with customers on an experiential level and to reinforce our authentic Detroit narrative as we grow into a lifestyle brand. My hope is to begin conversations and expand into galleries, hotels, and spaces outside of traditional retail.
EXP: What are some of your favorite restaurants and bars?
RK: I love Parc in Campus Martius, it makes me feel fancy — like I’m in New York City, I really enjoy that experience. Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine is a great spot for lunch, and Queens Bar has a great low-key vibe. You’ll always bump into someone you know there.
EXP: Where do you go for creativity and inspiration?
RK: Belle Isle Conservancy. Sometimes I just sit and have a moment on my blanket by the water. I live close by, so it’s easy to walk over the bridge and enjoy the peacefulness. I also love going to Cranbrook to walk through the gardens or museum, they’re both incredible local resources. Hart Plaza is also a great place to take in the city and one of my favorite places to people watch!