Essence Fashion House: We’ve Been Here Before’ Event with Caroline Wanga – President & Chief Executive Officer and Essence Ventures interviews Tony Shellman founder of Mecca USA and Enyce Clothing, and Michael Barnett (Mike B!) CEO of BOGARD by Mike B!
In an electrifying celebration for fashion during Fashion Week in New York City, Essence Fashion House brought together a dynamic lineup of visionaries and fashion legends for their groundbreaking event, “We’ve Been Here Before.” This unforgettable gathering featured Caroline Wanga, President and Chief Executive Officer of Essence Communications, along with special guests Tony Shellman, co-founder of Mecca USA and Enyce Clothing Co., and Michael Barnett (Mike B!) from BOGARD, commonly known as Mike B! The event was not only a showcase of fashion and creativity but also a powerful reminder of how Black culture drives culture and IS culture, “…the revolution has to be financed and economic inclusion is a human right…” is how Caroline eloquently put it.
Fashion has always played a pivotal role in the expression of culture, and this event celebrated fashion’s unique ability to tell stories, convey identity, and empower individuals. Caroline Wanga, the CEO of Essence Media, highlighted how the fashion we see today has been here before, how do we own it and operate today at our full value and have it returned to us. It was a celebration of being Black.
Special Guest Tony Shellman, a fashion industry icon and founder of brands like Mecca USA and Enyce, joined the conversation to share his insights into his hisotry in fashion and Black culture. Tony spoke about his journey from the streets of Seatlle Washington to the streets of New York City and how he used Hip Hop as a backdrop to create his iconic styles of clothing at the companies he co-founded.
Michael Barnett, a well known as Mike B! Your favorite fashion stylist, added his story to the conversation on how he started in fashion since day one. Mike B! reminisced about dressing up for Easter Sunday’s and using mom’s sheets as backdrops to take fun fashion styled photos as a kid. He eventually became the goto person for the street hustlers in his neighborhood to bring back the flyest wears for them to buy. This led to him graduating to become an intern stylist for Groovey Lou who was the main stylist for Sean Combs – Diddy at Bad Boy records. Today Mike B! Is the favorite fashion stylist for many top celebrities.
One of the crucial takeaways from “We’ve Been Here Before” is the recognition that supporting the revolution is not only about protests and activism—it’s also about financial empowerment. To sustain and amplify the movement for Black culture and equality, it’s essential to invest in Black-owned businesses, creators, and artists, Wanga notes.
It was an important showcase Afro-American brands for the next generations to watch. In closing Caroline expresses the importance for the younger creators to tap into the legends for guidance and know how. Never think you are too cool for school.
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