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The Brooklyn Circus Moves Beyond Brooklyn

Buoyed by recent collaborations with classic American brands, the cult menswear label is finding new audiences and setting sail outside of its home turf.
Ouigi Theodore poses for a Gap campaign
The Brooklyn Circus, long a menswear staple for preppy Americana with an urban twist, has its sights set on Manhattan. (John Midgley)

After 17 years as a touchstone for preppy menswear rooted in Black culture, The Brooklyn Circus is expanding its cultural footprint, thanks to a capsule collection with Gap that was released in January, and a soon-to-come second retail location.

The menswear brand’s collegiate-inspired collaboration with the retail giant, which features sweatshirts, hats and hoodies in the Gap and The Brooklyn Circus’ respective logos, along with sweater vests and varsity jackets, has driven a mass of consumers to the brand’s retail store in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighbourhood and its own e-commerce site, where the collection is currently sold out.

Armed with a growing legion of fans, the brand, which has long been beloved by menswear aficionados for its urban twist on preppy Americana classics, as well as its inclusion of people of colour in its imagery, is gearing up to open a new store in lower Manhattan this year. The company declined to disclose the exact location but said the new store will be among a crop of stores from niche menswear brands that cater to similar audiences. (Competing brands like menswear labels Noah and Drake’s operate storefronts in SoHo.)

“I didn’t want to get lost in Manhattan … just selling stuff to make rent,” said Ouigi Theodore, founder and creative director of The Brooklyn Circus. “We’re here to service the market and meet some new Brooklyn Circus cohorts.”

While The Brooklyn Circus signed the lease for its forthcoming location before the release of the Gap collection, which itself was a year in the making, the new momentum from the collaboration, along with a tie-up with Lee jeans in November 2022, proves there is a wider audience outside of the niche the brand has homed in on for more than a decade.

“We’re at a point professionally or visually … we’re clear on who we are,” Theodore said. “There’s a lot of growth potential to add to the vocabulary.”

Theodore promises the new store will retain the boutique feel and size of the company’s 900-square-foot Boerum Hill location, which feels equally curated and communal, with sociable salespeople who are just as apt to encourage customers to stay and read the locally sourced coffee table books as they are to push the products.

“It’s a space of connection,” Theodore said. “People say this feels like the barbershop, this feels like the juke joint … like an old school jazz club.”

Outside of The Brooklyn Circus’ brick-and-mortar expansion plans, Theodore has his sights set on a permanent creative role at a large retailer. There is precedent for such a trajectory in menswear: Noah founder Brendon Babenzien was named men’s creative director at J.Crew in May 2021, and Aimé Leon Dore’s Teddy Santis was appointed creative director of New Balance’s Made in USA line in April 2021.

“This project is 2023, we’re hoping it’s till 2033. It’s part of our bigger plan,” he said.

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