Part gallery, part design house, and part retail store, Detroit Is The New Black brings together local brands, designers, artists and events in a fresh and exciting way.
By Shardae Jefferson
Inspired by the historical aspects of the French fur trade that led to the creation of Detroit, Roslyn Karamoko opened the store “Detroit Is The New Black” with hopes to change the trajectory of retail. As a Howard University alumna, Roslyn obtained her degree in fashion merchandising and has since been a buyer in New York and internationally.
A lot of what Roslyn wanted to capture when creating Detroit Is The New Black was the history of the city. The French founded Detroit to export fur, so adding the accent over the “e” in Detroit gives the French vibe, but when paired with the phrase “is the new black”, a different connotation is voiced. Roslyn had a desire to showcase a more cosmopolitan side of Detroit, rather than the blue collar that has been previously shown in the industry.
“Coming here, I just thought there was an opportunity in the market for an exciting brand that felt contemporary and really forward-looking,” she says, “but something that also captures the history of the city and a bit of the socioeconomic conversation happening.”
“There is a racial undertone, and inclusivity conversation around what is gentrification and what it means to different minority groups.”
In the store, Roslynn curates different brands, usually with connections to Detroit, and places them within the space, which is similar to a pop-up shop. Unlike most retail stores, Detroit Is The New Black also features artwork from local artists within the store. Events such as yoga nights, poetry nights and networking events are held in the space to bring diversity into the area.
Currently, Detroit Is The New Black is located at 1426 Woodward Ave. in Downtown Detroit, but it was initially located in Midtown. In the fashion industry, the highs and lows of retail constantly fluctuate, especially in terms of brick and mortar. With Detroit Is The New Black being a new concept for a store, there have been many challenges, one being positioning the brand in the market.
“I hope we become not just an incubator for local brands, designers and artists but also a space where big names from outside the city can start and introduce themselves to this market,” she says.
Intentionality plays a big role in the success of the brand, from picking which artists to display to how the store is set up as well as the story behind the name. Detroit Is The New Black is bringing a fresh, exciting feel to what we traditionally know as retail.
Shop some of our favorites from Detroit Is The New Black
Mon–Sat: 12pm–7pm, Sundays 12pm–6pm