Statement T-Shirts and Interview with Heart of XXiV

I am torn on statement t-shirts. They either have too many words on them, won’t be in style (or make sense) the following year, or I fear that someone will start a random conversation with me about whatever is on my shirt.

On the other hand, I have a few t-shirts I just adore: my 517 t-shirt with my hometown’s zip code, my ‘LOVE’ t-shirt with my new city’s symbol on it and my ‘Love Over War’ camouflage t-shirt, which needs a little explaining.

Prior to going to school for way too long to study social work, I was in the Air Force. Once I was in graduate school and focusing my studies and field placements on veteran- well, veteran everything- I was giving a presentation to my classmates about some surveys, outreach and lit review stuff I did for a project. Then came the anonymous classroom feedback:

It was more about the classroom’s feeling on veterans than on how much I sucked at presentations. The one that will always stand out to me was, ‘I would have liked to hear from a veteran who is against war’.

Hello! I was standing right there! There are many collaborations and writings and interviews with veterans, but many can be one dimensional.  They say, I worked with getting the realities of war out, but they don’t get the realities of veterans out.

Anyway, getting back to the shirt, it kind of was my statement tee. My ‘I am standing right here’. The shirt was made by a website I like and it is not only because one of my cousin’s is the founder (I still pay full price), but in Michigan, to be able to be an entrepreneur is hard.

Garrion Lang and Jovon Young first stated their fashion line as as painted t-shirts and hoodies in the place where fashion comes to evolve, thrive and die: high school. They were athletics, but popular in their own way, they thought of ‘making it’ through creating their own brand called ‘Black Catz’.

Deciding a paw print and name had to be more distinguishing; A combination of Garrion’s design and Jovon’s logo began ‘Heart of XXiV™’ (or Heart of 24 representing gold). The brand took off in places where many big ideas take off: the high school hallway. Soon people wanted to know where they could get the shirts from and Lang and Young had to make a decision: What if we could show our city that you CAN do what you want?”

From here, Heart of XXiV™ went on to create more styles of clothing, a website, and is now in collaboration with their local minor league team. They are most excited about this helping the community through the money they receive, but Lang can’t give out too many details just yet. I was able to get him to answer a few questions about his brand, his personal clothing choices and what is behind the Love Over War shirt.

 

Camo Tee

More photos below

1. What is your mission?

With that mindset and the help of Aarika Walton we formed our mission statement:

It is a lifestyle that started with dreams and individuality. Engaging in the way people redefine their style through an array of quality products and creativity by encouraging people to stand out rather than fit in. Provide the consumer with a sense of self-worth, confidence, love, and most important to be one’s self!

2. Where did your slogan come from (When Your Heart Is Gold, You’re Forever Rich)?

WYHIGYFR came from the logo it’s self. We had to find out ways to mix the positivity we create and our name together. When you break it down it’s saying no matter what you do as long as your heart is in it, the success of it will come. I personally believe when you put your everything into something, there is no way you can fail because you’ll keep going until you find a way for whatever it is to work.

Heart XXIV sweater

Photo provided by Garrion Lang

3. What is behind the Love Over War shirts? Were you making a statement with the camo background?

I was inspired by a “mind over matter shirt” that Wale (the rapper)  had on. I thought it was a great concept to play with. So I used different words “love” and “war”. The meaning is self-explanatory, Love over War, peace rather than fight. Just pushing the positive energy objective through clothes. As far the camouflage background for the words, I just thought it best fits the shirts with play on “War.”

4. What sort of fashion advice would you give out to men and women?

Fashion advice I would give, is to wear what you want, what makes you feel good, in season or out of season because the way you dress is just an extension of yourself. If you have 1000 different styles, then great. If you have 1, then cool. It’s not what you wear it’s how you wear it. Another thing, I’m a firm believer that it’s the simple things that make an outfit.. Which is why I stick to my saying “simplicity kills”.

5. What makes you decide to do limited editions?

The whole reasoning behind limited releases is funding. Jovon and I work and we pay for everything. It’s been a blessing though because since we have funded out own projects it lets people know the level of seriousness we have about Heart Of XXiV. We are open to investors, although that’s something different for us. But hey you don’t live until you leave, your comfort zone.

6. Pick one piece of clothing for each: what do you invest in, thrift for, and buy on sale?

For me, I invest in the common t-shirts because it’s multi-seasonal and it can be worn under or above your outfit. I don’t do too much thrifting but when I do is usually for old Ralph Lauren pieces (usually the sweaters), I love the longevity of the brand. To me it’s like grabbing a piece of history. I love buying the heavy knitted items (Cardigans, Jackets, sweaters etc) on sale because those are super expensive regular priced!

7. Is there anything else you want me to make sure I include?

I’d like to give a shout out to my partner Jovon Young. Thanks to Brad Young for being a bridge in most of our projects. To EVERYONE who has supported us with a purchase, word of mouth, or a simple “like” in social media and also, to the people of Britches & Beauty for taking the time to interview me.

Love Over War T-shirt

‘Love Over War’ Shirt  Heart of XXiV ($30)

paper bead necklace

Paper Bead Necklace Darwin, Australia (gift)

My Aunt Michale works in Child & Family Services in Australia, but also volunteers with refugee families.  One family came to Darwin from a Refugee Camp in Kenya, but are from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The father would make these necklaces for a bag of rice while in the camp and continued making them once in Darwin. They take a long time to make and she received one as a gift.

She asked him if I could have it and now it is my favorite necklace. She wanted to try and get his work into local boutiques in the States, but when I looked on Etsy, it seems the necklaces are quite popular at an affordable price. I am going to buy directly from him (excuse me for not knowing his name, it is rude of me to say ‘him’) and I will do a free-trade round-up and give away with more info.

love over war t-shirt

Green Rain Boots  Pay/Half ($10)

Stella Skinny Leg Jean Express ($80 & buy one/get one $30)

Do not walk into Express paying full price for anything. Just don’t do it. I don’t think I ever paid $80 for a pair of jeans. I love Express jeans and colored slacks, but I love their deals more.

The rain boots from Pay/Half are ones that were made in a boot factory for kids who lose or eat their boots. I am both. They are super cheap and functional.

paperbead necklace

Hair update! I took down my twists and have a bit of heat damage still there from Halloween’s flash dance fiasco. My hair is wet in this photo and it is a little over 30 degrees out, so no hiding what needs to be chopped off.

I received two more BirchBoxes since the last time I posted and I still am receiving hair products with either alcohol or sulfate in it, so I have to change my preferences. I would not recommend the ‘hair products’ option if you only use natural hair products or if your are all natural, but I do enjoy other items in the box. So far, still work $10 a month.

camo shirt

Be sure to add Heart of XXiV to your Twitter and Instagram @HeartofXXiV!

I wrote my first post for Geekadelphia about the social impact and the style factors of Warby Parker. Check it out!

Photography by Eric S.

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  1. […] Aunt Michale brought necklaces with her from the same artist who gifted me one in a previous entry. I adore my necklace, and you can find a similar one on Etsy, but it was decided that my […]

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