Barriers Taps Graffiti Legends Phade and KEO for Atlanta Pop-Up Honoring Black Icons

A discussion with Barriers founder Barter, Shirt King Phade, and Blake "KEO" Lethem discussing their upcoming art installation in Atlanta honoring Black icons.

Barriers x Phade x KEO Atlanta Pop Up
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Image via Barriers

Barriers x Phade x KEO Atlanta Pop Up

“Honestly, I just want to sell knowledge.”

Since officially starting his streetwear brand Barriers in 2015, this is what owner Steven Barter, along with co-founder Jeff Jean-Jacques, has been doing. It is why a Barriers graphic T-shirt might display a large image of Marcus Garvey or a lavender hoodie might be covered in photos of powerful Black women like Assata Shakur or Maya Angelou. It is why he has made action figures of Black Panther Party founders Huey P. Newton & Bobby Seale. It is also the reason why he reached out to streetwear and graffiti pioneers Edwin “Phade” Sacasa and Blake “KEO” Lethem to help cover the walls of his Atlanta pop-up in new artwork. 

“He’s educating the youth. It doesn’t matter so much what the substrate is, whether you paint it on a subway train, or you put it on a T-shirt or a hoodie. That can translate to any surface. Rather than telling them, he’s showing them,” KEO tells Complex. “And if just one kid actually digs back in and does the research based on one of Barriers’ shirts, that’s bigger than fashion.” 

Phade is one-third of the legendary Shirt Kings, a trio of graffiti artists-turned-clothing designers who peddled their one-of-a-kind airbrushed garments that depicted famous characters rocking gold dookie chains or clutching 40s out of their Coliseum Mall store in Queens. Throughout the ‘80s, hip-hop’s biggest stars ranging from LL Cool J to Rakim popularized their pieces. His reputation would lead to him collaborating with streetwear giants like Supreme and Stüssy years later. KEO also has strong roots to hip-hop. The Brooklyn native is considered a graffiti legend and also worked closely with the late MF Doom, crafting the first version of the emcee’s signature mask along with cover art for albums like Operation Doomsday.

Both artists helped Barter’s vision come to life. The black-lit space will be hosted at Atlanta boutique No Signal throughout from March 5 through March 8. Free masks will be provided upon entry to abide by Covid-19 regulations. Along with original murals depicting the likes of Black icons like Jackie Robinson and Angela Davis, the space will also be selling limited runs of Barriers’ latest apparel—a hoodie printed with an airbrushed portrait of Malcolm X and another depicting Nelson Mandela—among them.

Ahead of the installation’s opening this weekend, we hopped on Zoom with Barter, Phade, and KEO to discuss working together, the growth of graffiti culture, Barriers continuing to honor iconic Black figures through its clothing, and more. Check out the full conversation below. 

Barriers x Phade x KEO Atlanta Pop-Up 6

You have a big weekend ahead of you.
Barter: Basically this is my first pop-up in a long time. I’m having it in Atlanta. And I had an idea before that I wanted to do for the pop-up. I was talking to a lot of people that I was cool with, and I felt like the best thing was to include these two guys because they really low-key started all this that everybody’s doing. It started around their time. I just wanted to include them to tell a story, and like I told Phade when we were in Atlanta, just bridge a gap from the youth to them, because there’s also a lot of kids who don’t actually know about what they did for us as a culture, especially the clothing and stuff like that. 

I know you’ve held some Barriers pop-ups in New York, but did this one feel special to you given you’re working with these two guys?
Barter: I’m kind of nervous about it, but I feel like this might be my best one that I have had so far just because I got these two guys a part of it. I just want to inform people about how things started. Us coming together and collabing, I feel like it’s going to be real storytelling. I’m happy that it’s happening in Atlanta too. It’s not Black History Month, but the real ones know we don’t need a month to celebrate our people. This is something we do on the daily. Atlanta’s the perfect spot for this. 

Phade and KEO are legends in their own right. How did you first become aware of them? How did you learn about their work and what they did?
Barter: For Phade, Phade probably don’t remember, but I met him once at my boy John Ross’ pop-up. This was a while back. I knew about him, but I never ran into him. I heard he was in LA. So I went to my boy John Ross’ pop-up, and he introduced us real quick. But then I met him again with my boy Grant. He works with me, with my graphic design team. He introduced us again. And then ever since then, we’ve been locked in. As soon as I went to his office, I saw everything that he was doing, I just got inspired. I knew that I wanted to work with him. But I also knew that I needed to build a relationship. It’s not all about just making money with each other. It’s building a friendship. 

Regarding KEO, I ran across his page through Instagram, and then I went to his following to see who he was following. I saw he was messing with Bahr Brown. And Bahr is one of my OGs from New York. I didn’t really know how to get in contact with KEO, so I just hit up my boy, Bahr, and then he connected us. So, it’s kind of unique that they are both coming together because I know back in the days they also worked together on art. So it’s cool that they’re coming together for me, for this pop-up, right now.

This is for Phade and KEO to answer. You guys do know each other previously. Do you guys remember how you initially met each other?
KEO: We’ve been trying to figure that out because it turns out that Phade remembers [me] as a young child. He used to be in my neighborhood, Wyckoff Projects [in Brooklyn, New York]. And I was a little kid running wild, man. I’m talking about when graffiti was in its infancy. I don’t even know if the word hip-hop was around back then. We’re talking mid-’70s now, Phade?

Phade: You talking like ’76, ’77.

KEO: So it’s right when this thing called hip-hop was just popping off. We’ve since collaborated on a whole lot of things. We painted walls together all over the country, man. Harlem to East LA. 

Phade: Yeah, we go back, man. He was noticeable, obviously, in Wyckoff Projects. [Laughs.]

KEO: The only white kid running around.

Phade: Basically. I was out there playing some tournament basketball, some Biddy Ball. And I remember this kid just being real wild and out of control. And he was on a bike. And I asked my cousin, I was like, “Who’s that?” He was like, “Oh, that’s Little Blake. He’s cool.” I was like, “Wow.” And that team that we had, the basketball team at Wyckoff consisted of Joe and John, who were Dynasty and Ecstasy. You know?

KEO: Rest in Peace.

Phade: RIP, Ecstasy from Wyckoff, Whodini. Then, our paths intertwined later on, being in the same artistic world of subway art. We were definitely part of the same crew. Everybody else in that crew has gone on to do great things also. I’m not going to name drop, but me and KEO just stayed close. This pop-up is the manifestation of friendship.

KEO: And it’s funny, to that point, it was a very small circle. It seemed like back then cats who wrote graffiti or were breakdancing or rhyming, we all knew each other. It was a small circle. There weren’t a lot of cats doing it. Now, all of those dudes have gone on to do big things. Well, not all of them. Some aren’t here anymore, rest in peace. But the majority of the cats from our little crew, from our circle, have all gone on to change culture, whether through streetwear or music, to have a worldwide impact. But back then, it was a very local thing, a subculture.

Barriers x Phade x KEO Atlanta Pop-Up 5

You guys both came up in the world of graffiti. When you look at it going from being this niche subculture, to guys like Virgil Abloh having graffiti writing in their runway shows in Paris, what has it been like to see graffiti grow and evolve?
Phade: I never saw it as a subculture, being submerged in it. When you’re doing something, you see it as the best thing that has ever happened to you. You know? And my thoughts as a kid was, “I want the world to experience this, some way, somehow because I’m having mad fun.” I don’t want them to experience the bad parts, like running from the police, and possibly getting electrocuted on a third rail or something. But I wanted them to experience the colors that were balled up inside of me that was going onto the train.

And a lot of people in my projects uptown would say like, “Yo, I seen something that look like your name.” And they seen my evolution from me just tagging in the building, tagging in books, and then finally seeing the artwork on the train. And when I got that ghetto approval, that made me feel more legitimate, to keep going with what I was doing.

KEO: Yeah, the whole mentality of graffiti writers back then was to get up in new areas and spread your name. You might start real local, in your hallways or in your public school, and then graduate to trains, and go to other boroughs. So it’s only natural that it spread to other mediums and around the globe. So, yeah, it really doesn’t surprise me. Like Phade was saying, it was everything to me as a kid as well. So it’s had that similar impact on kids globally. It’s only right. I just went to the Brooklyn Museum, my man Kaws. He comes from where we come from. He’s FC crew. He’s TC5 crew. He wrote on trains. You know what I mean? And now he’s gigantic, man. He’s building these huge installations in Dubai and Hong Kong, things that are as big as buildings. So there’s really no limit to this thing. 

Phade: If you look at the art that we did, and still do, it’s technical. You know? It’s beyond that it’s mind-boggling. We’re painting with a medium, a spray can, and we’re doing straight lines. You know? Not how they’re doing it today where they have caps that enable you to do straight lines. We’re doing straight lines, bubble lines. We’re taking on a challenge, and then doing it within a compressed time. You may have only two hours before your moms wake up and got to go to work or something. So you got to go out there and bomb. It was a lot of layers to this. But we always thought futuristic. If you look at the Rammellzees, we always thought out of this world.

So I applaud that the world is finally catching up to us. When you listen to “Planet Rock,” he says, “We are the future. You are the past.” You know what I’m saying? So we came out the gate like, “We’re spearheading this generation. We’re spearheading what’s next.” And so globally, 30, 40 years later, the world is just catching up. And that’s why you’ll have a Virgil Abloh showing our creativity on a runway in Paris. You know?

I saw even on social media, in the caption, when you show off the hoodie, you say, “Make sure you go do your research.” If you look at the clothing that [Barriers has] done in the past, it’s very obvious that it’s important to you to look back at who came before you, and to tell that story. Why is that important to you? I feel like a lot of young creatives might not have that mindset.
I feel like growing up, when I was in school, I wasn’t the smartest kid. But I wasn’t really focused. I low-key always knew that I wanted to do clothes. But I didn’t actually know how to do clothes. So when my chance came to actually get the resources and stuff like that, I really took advantage of that. But even when I was young, I always wore clothes that had a story to it. So back in the days, in high school, I only wore Polo. Polo always had a fire story. It was storytelling. Polo is one of my favorite brands. So I always said that when I started my brand, I always wanted to tell a story. Being in high school, I didn’t learn about Black history like that. They only teach you what’s in the textbooks. So when I got out of high school, I started doing my own research, reading books, like the Huey Newton book. I just started getting more knowledge to myself. I always wanted to apply that to clothes because I felt like a lot of people shop without knowing what you’re buying. Honestly, I just wanted to sell knowledge. You feel me? There’s a lot of kids right now that’s African-American, that call Huey P. Newton, “Malcolm X.” And to me, that’s a big problem. I feel like, “How you just get those two guys confused?” And I’m realizing a lot of kids are not doing research of their own. So I just wanted to give them the actual textbook on the actual garment. Clothes, that’s like the walking billboard.

Throughout the clothing that you’ve made, you always make sure to highlight these various Black figures throughout history that are super important. But how did you settle on Malcolm X being that individual for this particular project?
Barter: Honestly, there’s a few people that I try to channel their energy into myself. You know? I like Malcolm. I like Nipsey. I like Kobe’s mindset. But Malcolm, I felt like, is an iconic figure. And Phade, back in the days, he did a Malcolm X backdrop. Seeing that, I was like, “Ah, yeah. That’s the one. That’s the one that’s going to hit.” You know? 

Regarding Phade and the research for that, there’s a lot of kids that I know personally that’re older and younger than me that don’t have history about graffiti. I feel like every kid coming up that’s doing clothes, they should try to learn about different fields, you feel me? So you can have a bigger scope when you’re designing and stuff like that. Graffiti, my pops is from Brooklyn, I saw it. My mom is from Far Rockaway. Riding on the train to the last stop, I saw that my whole life, literally. To this day, I still see that. 

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To Phade and KEO, what is it like to see the younger generation reach out to you, want to work with you? I don’t know if this is the right word, but does it feel like validation almost? To see the impact that you’ve had on even the younger generation that wasn’t necessarily there in real time to see it? 
KEO: For myself, I apprenticed as a young kid under cats a little older than me. They took me under their wing. They taught me, not just this art form, but the history, and how to move in the streets, and how to carry myself as a man. So I kind of owe it to the next generation to pass that on, the lessons that they taught me. I feel like, for a long time, that was kind of dead, for whatever reason. The ’70s was a time where folks in New York didn’t have a lot of resources. We didn’t have access to a lot of money or infrastructure. So we made our own, right? And clothing, we would buy the cheapest things, or steal them, and decorate them ourselves. We would customize clothing. So, now, for a long period in the mid-’80s, moving onward, you had Reaganomics. You had crack cocaine. You had a lot of money. And cats stopped doing that, to a large extent. They were able to buy Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, and so forth.

I feel like now things are coming back to a do-it-yourself sort of culture, rather than looking to someone else. Cats aren’t going to record labels. They’re being independent. They’re not buying major fashion brands. They’re creating their own. So it’s coming back full circle. And I guess these things go in cycles. But to be here long enough to see the younger cats like Barter coming up, creating their audience. He had a jacket on, the first minute I met him in Atlanta, when I got off the plane. He had hand-painted the back of, I guess it was a vintage surplus military jacket. And that’s where we come from. I used to do that. And the cats that I looked up to, they did that. That predates me. That goes back to gang culture in New York City. So all that, it continues. And I’m just blessed to be here to see the next evolution of it.

Phade: Yeah, man. I believe that once the crack era had came out, that made one generation not respect another generation. You know? Because I was around, and I saw dudes who I looked up to, they used to come home from jail all swelled up and everything. And then once they got on to drugs, now they’re asking me for a dollar, and this and that. It’s kind of like, “Damn, you was my hero, bro.” So we lost a lot of our heroes. So we had to come up kind of saying, “Now we got to cut our own path. F them.” We looked toward the streets, and then those dudes got on drugs. So we was like, “All right, forget it then.” I think that kind of started with my generation not caring anymore. But as time went on, people started getting money off of this, you have a Jay-Z line where he was like, “You broke. What you going to tell me?” You know what I’m saying? We used to respect our elders, but now your elder is barely eating. But it’s kind of our fault because that was a time we should’ve helped them out and built them up. But the attitude was more like, “What you going to tell me now?”

So it kind of fueled me to build my own story, and try to help my community how I can. And then when I got the store in Queens, what happened is, the younger generation started coming to the store. The Busta Rhymes, and the Q-Tips, and the people who weren’t even on yet, at the time. And I felt that was a way I could give back. You know? So now that we have another generation, two generations later, they’re reaching back out, I believe the formula is being re-released. When I came up younger, we had the Holcombe Rucker basketball. And their motto was, “Each one, teach one.” So the elders used to reach out. You know? And now it’s that era again. You know? It’s like a renaissance. It’s like, “We’re going to win if we help each other.” 

All three of you guys came together for this installation. Are you able to speak a little bit about how that creative process was? 
Barter: At first, I was going to do something different. But I was at home one day that I was brainstorming the inside for the pop-up. And I want it to be like the Rap City basement, how people come and rap with Big Tigger, how it’s a blacklight. So that’s going to be the installation for the pop-up. But their artwork is just going to highlight the whole pop-up. They both worked on a lot of pieces. They used the glow-in-the-dark spray paint. That’s going to reflect nice off the light. So that’s the whole vibe. At first, I was going to try to force a story, but I’m like, “Nah. Let’s just use the artwork.” Because back in the days, these murals told stories in different neighborhoods. So to bring that to Atlanta, I think it will be cool. 

The whole design process, I’m not saying it was easy, but I felt like me and Phade kind of knew what was up already. Once I told him the Malcolm X, he sent it to me the next day. And that was it. And then it went on a hoodie. I was like, “All right, bet. It’s lit.” I was really excited about that. And like I said, I see Phade all the time out here. And I look to him as an OG. And same with KEO. So regardless of if this pop-up happened or not, I feel like all three of us would definitely just be kicking it and passing knowledge to each other. I feel like I learned a lot from them. Just from two days in Atlanta, I learned so much. 

Me explaining it not going to really do it justice. Really, you got to see. When I went to Africa, I didn’t take no pictures. Because that’s something you just got to go for yourself and experience. That’s the type of vibe it’s going to be. You just got to come see it for yourself. You know?

KEO: And that’s what I meant about bringing it back. When Phade and I were coming up, we didn’t have an internet. We didn’t have access to anything on television or in magazines that represented what we were doing. We had to go out and experience it. You had to be in the streets to see this stuff. You had to go look for it. I would sit in an Atlantic Avenue train station and wait for the subways to pull in, to watch them. Now people have everything at their fingertips. But it’s not the same. You’re just skimming the surface, digitally. You’re looking at the, “Oh, yeah. That’s nice. Oh, that’s cute.” But it doesn’t have the same impact as when you experience it. This pop-up is going to be experiential. The impact of physically being there is a little different from looking at it on a tiny little screen on your cellphone.

Barriers x Phade x KEO Atlanta Pop-Up 2

Did you guys do original work for the space? Or is it a mix of old and new? 
KEO: I’m creating brand-new works. Barter was real specific with the imagery that he wanted. He gave me some reference. So I actually painted these to his art direction, if you will. He gave me a mood board of different inspiration. These were murals from Crown Heights, and from the neighborhood, that I’ve been seeing all my life, that were the inspiration for the pieces that I created.

I know Barriers likes to highlight various iconic figures. Unfortunately, one that we just lost was Doom. KEO, I know you worked so close with him. So I’m just curious if we can expect him honored in any way at the installation, or with any of the pieces that you’re working on?
KEO: Doom was like my little brother, man. He stayed at my house when he was in New York. I would stay at his house in Atlanta. I know his wife and kids. He knows my family. That’s my brother, man. And I haven’t done anything yet to memorialize him because I’m still not… it’s a process, man. I’m trying to respect his family’s privacy, and their wishes. I’m in touch with his wife. When she’s ready, I’ve told her, “I’m here for you, however you want to do this.” There’s a lot of people doing murals, and I appreciate it. I guess he touched a lot of people around the world. And I’m seeing whole cars running in every country with Doom graffiti on them. I’ve seen walls. The outpouring is amazing. For myself, whatever we do, it’s going to be done in concert with his people. I don’t feel qualified to represent him on my own. You know?

Like you said, there’s been this outpouring of love and respect for Doom since his passing. For instance, I saw you shared the petition going around to rename the street in Long Beach after him, and stuff like that. Just seeing the outpouring, what does that mean to you guys?
Phade: The underground has always been super important. He represented that. He represented anti-everything. He represented that underground, that gritty, that graffiti artist. We’re underground, you know what I’m saying? Even though we’ll be in your gallery, we going to tag up on your Mercedes-Benz and run. You know what I’m saying? So that’s Doom. That’s how I felt he was. That’s what he represented. 

KEO: He really lived that. That wasn’t a gimmick or an image. I was talking about how now it seems to be coming back to a do-it-yourself kind of thing, self-empowerment, not waiting for corporate backing, realizing that we control our own creative output, Doom exemplified that. I guess because I was so close to him, that was just my man, you know what I mean, I didn’t realize the impact that he had until he passed. And then seeing the folks, huge celebrities, everybody reached out to me all of a sudden, like, “Yo, I’m such a fan.” I was like, “Wow. I wish you’d have bigged him up while he was alive, but better late than never.” So he touched a lot of people, man. And he did all that on his own terms.

Phade and KEO, you mentioned bringing back this do-it-yourself type of attitude. You both have had your share of bigger projects with bigger brands or designers that would have you in the past, that have kind of wanted to highlight your work or use your work. How did working on a project like this, this gallery with Barriers, differ from some of those bigger things that you both have done?
KEO: It’s rare that you’re shown the kind of respect where somebody says, “Man, just do you. I love your work.” I wasn’t censored. Sometimes when you deal with a larger corporate entity, there are so many creative folks involved, and they want to do fly things. But then you have all these other departments to consider, legal, and so forth. Too many cooks can spoil the soup. 

Barter, like I was saying about Doom, he’s doing it on his own terms. So we didn’t have a lot of those concerns, where you need to water things down because of the pencil pushers, or the legal department, or this, or that. Some of these brands are too big for their own good. They set out to do something fly, and by the time they’re done with it it takes forever to reach the market. By the time they turn around, it’s five years, and it’s watered down. It’s the same thing with the music. If you go to a major label, you might turn in a beautiful project. And then they want to change it up and say, “Well, no. We think you should have this sound, or work with these producers, or we got to censor those words.”

And that’s how Doom became Doom. He was on a major label, and they censored his album, basically due to the cover artwork. And he got dropped from the label behind a whole backlash. Ice-T had a heavy metal hardcore act called Body Count. And they made a record called Cop Killer. And there was a whole lot of backlash from the FBI and everyone else. And they had senators, and all kinds of hearings, about censoring music. And when people bow to political pressure, creativity gets stifled. So dealing with Barter, we weren’t worried about a lot of that, man. He let us rock. He’s not scared. A lot of people are really scared right now. They don’t want to offend anyone. But real art is supposed to offend you. It’s supposed to wake you up. What’s the old saying? “It should comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable.”

Phade: Yeah, 100 percent. This is experiential for me, experiencing the freedom. What corporate can do is kind of choke the creativity. You might submit one design and then, “Oh, can you change this? Can you change that?” Then, I know I’m talking to somebody that doesn’t know anything about my heart. And at the end of the day, we end up choosing the first design. When I paint, or do something, I don’t do the hit or miss. I try to do a platinum hit right out the box. And for some reason, I got this innate thing that lets me know that this is what it is. 

So with Barter, he saw the Malcolm X. The first Malcolm X was done on 125th Street, as a backdrop for a photographer named Gino. And so that was out there for like 10 years. So I have the actual Polaroid of it. So when Barter was over here, he saw that. And he was like, “Man, you need to re-create that.” 

Barriers x Phade x KEO Atlanta Pop-Up 11

You have this big week ahead of you with this installation, and this new project, and the new collection. But where do you see Barriers going? In your mind, what do you want to achieve?
Barter: I can’t tell you too far ahead, but coming up, I just want to keep telling my story and affect as many people as I can. I’m trying to just take it day by day right now, honestly. I want a store in the future. It’s a lot of things. But I don’t want Barriers just to be a clothing brand, though. That’s the thing. I want Barriers to be a corporation, owned by myself. I want to do different things. I want to have products in Michaels. I want to do art products. I want to do different things. But for right now, I’m trying to master this, and then just keep growing day by day, man. 

I want to have toys in toy stores, stuff like that, because I do make action figures as well. I just want to touch every lane, open a restaurant, do all of that. How the Black Panthers wanted to have the hospital, the schooling. I’m trying to build that, but in a newer way, for us. In my own way. So it’s going to take a while, but like my barber always told me, “Slow grind.” So that’s how I been treating it, bro. I been slow grinding it. I’m not trying to rush anything. I’mma slow grind until the death, until I get to where I want to be. I’m not in no rush to move ahead faster than what I need to do.

Since you have started the brand, how do you feel like you have grown? Where have you felt like you’ve seen the most growth within yourself as a creative?
I was telling somebody this the other day. Everything that I’m making right now, I made before. So I had it, or I just didn’t drop it. But when I was doing clothes back in 2017, 2016, I did a Huey tee. Nobody knew who Huey Newton was. I dropped a tee, but it didn’t sell as quick as it’s selling now because I guess people are becoming more aware of what’s going on. But I’ve been doing this shit for a minute, bro. I’m happy that people are starting to catch on. As Phade said, we’re in the future. I guess everything is starting just to catch up at its own pace. So our job is honestly to keep just making the future. People are just going to catch up at their own pace. 

Any final thoughts any of you want to share, regarding the project, or just in general?
KEO: Yeah, I just want to say, what I see with Barriers that impressed me right away, is that it’s not just fashion. He’s educating the youth. It doesn’t matter so much what the substrate is, whether you paint it on a subway train, or you put it on a T-shirt or a hoodie. That can translate to any surface. Rather than telling them, he’s showing them. And when I was a kid, a lot of the graffiti had a political message to it in the ’70s. And that caused me to go back and research. I’m reading the subway trains, and it says, “Free Lolita Lebrón,” or whatever. And now I have to go and study, and try to figure out who these folks are. So he’s talking about Huey Newton, and The Black Panther Party, or we did something with Marcus Garvey. And if just one kid actually digs back in and does the research based on one of Barriers’ shirts, that’s bigger than fashion. You know what I mean? You’re speaking to youth. You’re changing the world. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a T-shirt or a backdrop for a 125th photographer, like Phade was talking about. 

Barter: When kids started DM-ing me and asking me, “What book should I read?” for summer reading, I said, “Oh, yeah. I already know it’s working.” It just shows me that the hoodies are working. I’ve always wanted to do this. But at the time, back when I started the brand, I guess everything was logos. Nobody had an essence in their brand. I was like, “No, I don’t want to just do logos.” I don’t wear that, personally. So I’m just happy that everything is catching up, like I said. Kids are doing research.

Phade: Yeah, the thing with the Barriers brand is that it’s bringing quality. It’s bringing quality fabric, all the stuff that the real innovators that are out there look for. And so it’s just beyond design. It’s paying close attention to details. Him just sending me a picture of what it could look like, or it being in the process of being made, is mind-blowing. It’s not like, “Oh, we’re just going to slap this on and get it out there.” You know? So you get that high-end aesthetic with something that’s cultural. And then you’re also bringing education. So he’s hitting all the areas. And then he’s bringing top educators, like me and KEO, who have history, living legends. So that means a whole lot. Who can do that? I haven’t seen that type of combination nowhere in fashion yet. So he’s definitely setting a trend and a precedent. Nobody has done this before.

Barter: Honestly, this is like an album. I treat my clothes like an album. I get the right songs, and then we’re just going to drop it. Like Phade said, everything I do, it’s got to go platinum. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it if I know it’s not going platinum.  This pop-up, including them, is definitely platinum, in my eyes. For real. So big things. Big things are brewing, for sure.

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