Warner and Waverly Watkins, the twin brother team behind Brownstone, are an indefatigable duo that exudes energy and passion. A self-described collaborative couple, Waverly and Warner each perform unique duties for the brand (Warner is Creative Director and Waverly is President), but they are so connected, both energetically and philosophically, that they don’t mind what they say as being attributed to either of them or to the entity of the brand. “We realized this way of functioning worked for us early on as we began to define what Brownstone meant to us as a brand and aesthetic and leaned into it from then on pretty heavy as we knew we were making pieces that inherently spoke to both of us,” says Waverly. “The concept of Brownstone was always a mix of our ideas and influences under one roof.” It’s that creative generosity, the ability to give oneself over to the final project, that made Brownstone the perfect collaborator for Vince Staples in the first-ever StockX lead merch collaboration program for Coachella. The brothers teamed up with Staples to create a t-shirt, hoodie, and water bottle that act as concert merch for the festival, and a souvenir for a moment of time for fans of the brand and the artist.
For the Watkins brothers, they see Staples as a creative partner that made sense for them from the beginning. “What Vince brings to the table, I think, is if you look at typography, if you look at the layout if you look at even the digital production for his last video, it was a one-take long shot in black and white. That’s hard, bro,” says Warner. “That’s exactly what we would do, you know what I’m saying? For us, it was easy to be kindred spirits in that. He was definitely among one of them.” At Brownstone, they’re willing to go the extra mile, explore the unexpected, delve into details that would otherwise be overlooked. It can mean greater complexities or longer lead times, but they want the work to be right. And they see Staples doing the same thing with his work. “It was just incredibly natural,” Warner says.
The graphics are a riff off the album art for RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART, Staples’ fifth studio album. They interpreted the broken heart as a balloon, the kind that would fly in a Macy’s parade. And, of course, they added the signature double thumbprint that’s become a staple of Brownstone’s visual identity.
“It just made sense and it was just a really cool, fun experiment. I treat it more like that than anything,” Waverly says, following up on his brother. The process they employed for this project was different from the way they normally work. Not only did it come up fast and had to be completed in record time, they widened the collaborative community that Brownstone is used to tapping to get what they were looking for. “Usually when we work with these artists it’s myself along with the artist, or a member of the band, and that’s pretty much it,” Warner explains. “For the Vince and Coachella project, just by the nature of it there were a lot of moving parts, but we all stayed true to the artistic vision of the piece. I feel if we didn’t have that previous experience as well this wouldn’t have been as successful.” Collaborations are all about getting more than what each party can get individually, which also means learning and expanding. That’s what they got with this.
Of course, this collaboration isn’t the only project Brownstone is working on right now. They have more Spring releases on the way, a few more collaborations, and of course, their Autumn/Winter 2022 collection will drop later this summer. This is a collaboration that doesn’t end, coming from a fashion house housed in a brownstone, the classic architectural marvel that populates historically Black neighborhoods in New York City. In 2022, brownstone houses are in various states of development and habitation, and that’s part of what makes the namesake for the brand so exciting to the brothers, “You don’t really know what’s behind the door,” Warner says. “Us being big fans of architecture and just things of the arts and the nature of that, it just really speaks to a mixture of high and low, that encapsulates what [Brownstone] is about in terms of about maybe not necessarily streetwear, maybe not necessarily high end, but the very high-quality product that speaks to the current times of today.”
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