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Survival of the flyest: Black-owned boutique talks outlasting the pandemic

This year’s pandemic has tested us all, especially NYC based Black-owned boutique and streetwear brand, The New Blue Collar.

The New Blue Collar’s fifth Collection represents resilience, grit, and survival. And, surely, the fashion style and design have evolved from what the streetwear brand created just over a year ago.

TNBC is a testament to hard work and sportsmanship. The founders Felix Llanos from Queens, NY, and Alex Ewings, who was born in Texas and raised in Tulsa, OK continue to prove that in their fifth drop.

Both are familiar with the work done on hardwood floors, glass backboards, and the iron rims of basketball gyms, but the pandemic has shifted the energy toward preservation and reclamation of certain wisdom…

Wisdom acquired on the courts of NYC playgrounds. 

black owned boutique brand TNBC
The New Blue Collar Fifth Collection. Photo by Casey Brooks

“We’ll always make it a point to incorporate NYC into anything we do. We want to make sure it speaks to the city in some shape or fashion – no pun intended.” 

Felix Llanos and Alex Ewings

The Black-owned boutique brand has previously draped its models in leisurewear like crewnecks and athletic shorts and given way to the idea of an athlete’s casual attire.

As well as placing items of grit, grind and everyday work, like mechanic jackets, and hoodies on them. 

streetwear brand tnbc
The New Blue Collar Fifth Collection. Photo by Casey Brooks

The core of the brand remains the same as the pandemic looms. The outlook on the future of their aesthetic continues to evolve. The COVID lockdown allowed creatives to galvanize and strengthen their focus on what needed the most attention to survive this time.

Felix Llano and Alex Ewings explained: 

“We’re fortunate to be able to say that the pandemic didn’t negatively affect our business. If anything, it allowed us to slow down a bit and [really] take a step back and reflect on the work we’ve done up to this point. Figure out what we need to do to continue to evolve as a brand.”

streetwear brand TNBC
The New Blue Collar Fifth Collection. Photo by Casey Brooks

The streetwear brand has stuck to a low volume of production while keeping the items in each collection to a minimum of staple pieces that complete a man’s closet. The fifth collection wants to elevate that same closet with more staples of a “Big Apple” feel.

The Black-owned boutique brand is evolving their minimalist aesthetic view of the athlete to one that has now matured into gentleman status.

black owned boutique TNBC

Button shirts for casual occasions, a bucket hat that innately screams ‘functionality,’ and in addition to other cut and sewn staples, The New Blue Collar has also featured customized pairs of Air Force 1s that the founders created through Nike By You.

black owned boutique
The New Blue Collar Fifth Collection. Photo by Casey Brooks

“We started incorporating our personalized sneakers in shoots with our third delivery. It’s something we want to continue doing for each delivery moving forward,” said Llanos and Ewings.

Personalized Air Force 1s
Personalized Air Force 1’s made through Nike By You. Photo by Casey Brooks

The New Blue Collar is still fresh in its journey to being solidified in NYC closets, as well as everywhere else. Going into their second year of selling clothing can predictably be better than this year was. 

Felix Llanos and Alex Ewings went on to say, 

“As we mature, so will our taste levels. The objective will always remain the same – to provide you guys timeless staples – but the storytelling surrounding a certain collection may look a bit different than it did a year ago.”

As founders of a Black-owned streetwear brand, Felix and Alex continue to explore their aesthetic and grow their sartorial definition, they will have this year’s wisdom to always use a reference.

“Conversations with mentors have provided a fresh perspective, which is a huge help for [The New blue Collar] and [it’s] evolution.”

Felix Llanos and Alex Ewings

View the TNBC Delivery Five 2020 Lookbook