Drew Joiner, the founder of recently launched street style clothing brand Edward Joiner, has found himself using both his creative designs and platform to speak out about the two topics he cares most about — sustainability and Black Lives Matter. Now, his website has been live for a little over a month and he is more motivated than ever to continue to create designs and garments with meaning, that not only are better for the environment but also bring value to people’s lives that buy them.
303 Magazine: Tell me your story and where your passion for fashion design and fashion, in general, all started. What’s your background story?
Drew Joiner: My story in fashion and design began when I was a sophomore in college. Up until this point, I was a hyper-focused athlete that cared only about the sport of basketball. A close friend of mine introduced me to Queens-based brand Aime Leon Dore. I fell in love with the way this fashion brand designed their garments, told their story, and the quality of the materials they use. Over the next two years, I became an extremely passionate consumer of brands like Aime Leon Dore as well as other similar brands. The fusion of streetwear, loungewear and graphic design to me is the best type of clothing. I got to the point where I didn’t just want to be a consumer of these brands but I wanted to create my own version of what these companies offered to me. I began drawing daily to hone in on my artistic skills. I read books on typography as well as business and started making plans for my own brand Edward Joiner mid-2019. I graduated from the University of Denver fall 2019 and at the start of 2020, I filed the LLC for Edward Joiner.
303: Piggy-backing off of my previous question, what motivated you to officially pursue a career in the fashion field? And what influenced you to begin your own business?
DJ: When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to play professionally. I started thinking about what other things I enjoy doing other than basketball. The answer was clear and obvious to me that I should pursue starting my own business in fashion. I used to tell my parents as a kid that I was going to be in the NBA. My mom would then ask ‘what would you do after the NBA?’ and I would tell her I was going to start my very own business. Once I committed to starting Edward Joiner I began working every day to build the business up. Also, something I noticed was that there weren’t many streetwear brands advocating for sustainability. This was an area of the industry that I felt needs more attention than it is currently getting.
303: Can you tell me about some of the work you’ve done like past designs you have created? Take me through what you do to create an item and the creative process behind that.
DJ: The design process for me starts by asking one simple question, “what feeling am I trying to convey with this design and with this product?” Our Premiere Hoodie is our first product ever for Edward Joiner. The three things that I was trying to accomplish in creating the hoodie was first, the garment needed to have a polished logo. It took a few months to learn and figure out what typeface would represent this polished look for the garment. Second, the hoodie had to be high-quality. This is less about design and more about the sourcing of the hoodie but, nonetheless, this is important. Our hoodies are 100% US sourced cotton with side panel ribbing, double stitching on the hood, and an ultra-soft interior. The third component in the design process was that the design had to be easily digestible. During the design process, I referenced other brands such as Apple, Louis Vuitton, and YSL to understand what makes their designs so pleasing. It was the simplicity of their logos and their type. This simplicity makes it easy for others to understand what the product represents
303: What is your favorite aspect of fashion design and fashion as a whole, and what is your favorite part of the process?
DJ: The most amazing thing about fashion design is seeing the product come to life. The progression of sketching out designs and creating mockups in Adobe to then seeing everything come together is one of the most satisfying processes I have ever experienced. The journey is the most amazing part and seeing the final product is an electrifying feeling.
303: What have you found to be the biggest challenge of working in the fashion industry?
DJ: The biggest challenge that I have run into is being an effective communicator with the manufacturers I am working with. Initially, when designing the Premiere Hoodie there were some hiccups in its design because I did not communicate effectively what I wanted. This led to a headache I had to work out by being a more effective communicator.
303: Would you say that fashion influences your daily life outside of work? How so?
DJ: Fashion influences my life every day. There is something exhilarating about wearing clothing that you are proud to wear. Covid-19 has introduced new and fun ways to have at-home personal styling.
303: Has COVID-19 had any effects on your business? If so, how? What have you had to change/adjust about how your business runs?
DJ: Covid-19 had a large effect on the business. I started Edward Joiner in early 2020 with the expectation of having the product ready late March. March was around the time COVID in the states started taking over. There were some manufacturing hold-ups in Denver due to the Stay-At-Home-Order which slowed the production of the garment. While COVID slowed things down it was sort of a blessing in disguise. It gave me more time to refine the website, the garment, and the packaging.
303: Is Edward Joiner working to use its platform to speak about what is going on with the BLM movement and the protests? If so, how?
DJ: Edward Joiner is a Black-owned business and when George Floyd was killed by police it was devastating for me as a Black man myself. I used Edward Joiner to bring light to the injustices that are present in America. We have done tributed posts to Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and the BLM protests. We have written several articles in our publication highlighting charities and resources for our community to look into. Edward Joiner is very vocal about this issue because it hits home heavy especially for me as an African-American.
303: Why do you believe it is important for you and other companies to speak out about issues like this?
DJ: I believe businesses have an obligation to be the catalyst for change in America. Whether it is racial injustice or climate change every person plays a role in making the world a better place.
303: Tell me a bit about the publication that is linked to your brand, Beyond the Garment. How did this become an addition to your brand and why?
DJ: Beyond The Garment is a huge part of Edward Joiner. It is how we bring value to our community outside of selling them high-quality items. I have always loved writing and I love writing and talking about fashion, art, sneakers, sustainability, and culture. This love led me to start the publication in tandem with the brand to bring more people to the site and provide more value to our audience.
303: What do you hope for the future of Edward Joiner? And can you tell us about any upcoming projects your currently working on?
DJ: The goal for every Edward Joiner drop is to sell out every item we produce. This is important because we don’t want to contribute to the immense waste of the fashion industry. I just want the business to grow little by little each day. I want to continue to create for a very long time and bring value to the lives of the people I come in contact with. The next project for Edward Joiner is underway right now. We don’t want to spill the beans on what it is we are releasing, but this product will be heavily centered on sustainability and reusability. The product should be out late June or early July.
All photography provided by Drew Joiner