Harlem Derby Style is a lifestyle that infuses every day with the smooth, sophisticated chic of Harlem now, its storied past and vibrant future. Inspired by the Kentucky Derby in which black jockeys comprised 13 of the 15 riders in the first running, I want to celebrate the history, the music, the fashion, the food and the style that African Americans were experiencing at that time.
Harlem Derby Style's founder and hat designer, Rob Owens, seeks to bring the roots of Derby to contemporary life – connecting its rich legacy and preppy sophistication to Harlem’s swag and urban vibe. Of course the Derby is about fashion, especially hats. I want to take that hat tradition and experiment towards boldness rather than the more conservative approach embodied by the Derby. I like coordinating color, so I look at period pieces from the 20s and 30s, etc, and combine tones, trim and fabrics that you don’t normally see together, creating my own stylistic elements that will ultimately reflect what you desire to express.
Harlem Derby Style isn't just about hats, it’s events, fashion shows, style and history. I want to ensure that the richness of this unique black heritage remains part of the essence of our community, that it contributes to that certain vibe people want and the culture they’re looking for in Harlem. We all need to contribute to maintaining that certain essence that makes Harlem, which is why I created Harlem Derby Style.