72 and Sunny
Streams of fiery red and burnt orange leaves paraded aloft a vibrant treeline. They drifted en concert by the prevailing airflow. Mirrored below was a cascade of rushing water that weaved between boulders smoothed over by the James River.
On its banks stood Chris Curry, draped in monochromatic sandstone. He carefully sifted through an oversized rucksack. Lifting up a piece of fabric, the sunlight eclipsed his face, but shed light on an article imbued with indigo, and laced with gold.
Curry is the owner and operator of EMBMNT (pronounced embodiment) which cultivates streetwear from unlikely corners. Giving a contemporary take on pieces sourced from deep pockets of worldwide history.
His origins in fashion were spooled at a young age. Self-taught at the age of 10, he asked his mom for a sewing machine. “I didn’t know how to work the machine, but I remember plugging it in just to hear the humming.”
Chris was joined by partner and writer, Q, and two models: Hoang and Lyle. Sorting through an oversized olive green bag, they began assigning different pieces for our models.
“When my wife and I lived in DC, I wrote on a note card that I wanted to make clothes,” Q took the piece of paper, walked into the bedroom, and returned with four rolls of denim.
He took this opportunity to tie his art form into another craft. “As a barber, I wanted to make aprons because they were the easiest to start with, and I could use them in my work.”
Chris and I originally met through the sitcom-worthy High Point Barbershop, voted as the best barber shop consecutive years by Style Weekly and Richmond Magazine.
Chris would slide between coyish banter with colleagues like Hoang, then pivot to hit a fadeaway out of crumpled up paper towels into a distant bin. He wore a peculiar patchwork shirt pocket, with another smaller pocket affixed to the first one. Conversations percolated around his attire, which became the genesis for this piece.
Speaking about our endeavors, we commiserated on the struggles of getting started and shared a fire about boosting the world through artistry.
It’s the paradox of passion: an intangible nothingness that when harnessed can change everything. We can’t hold the air, but it is nonetheless vital to our breath; inhaling inspiration to exhale expression.
The denim de’jour served up offerings like the Noragi Jacket: workwear rooted in centuries of Japanese farming. Each piece would become as unique as its wearer, enriched by a lifetime of patchwork repairs. The style faded in a run-up to the Second World War but found new life in the 70s as global travel became more accessible.
“My homie Travis introduced it to me in 2015 and really took a liking to the art form aspect of it… made me jump into Japan’s culture,” Curry continued, “Then my design becomes more about history and less about fashion and trends.”
A pair of rustic olive green trousers were upcycled from military sea bags. There was a series of X-shaped stitches near the cuff, also known as Sashiko. Frayed strands from previous usage hung over faded military stencil. Utility vests resurrected from military remnants serve as a reminder that “the world is your garden, and growth is apparent.”
When asked about his selection of materials, Chris explained, “I like to work on denim and military fabrics because they definitely remain classics.” Even the bag carrying his line followed suit. “This was actually a post office mail bag; it had a nice feel, so we added cargo pockets and designed over it.”
There was another story here of a similar cord. Q brought her own recent publishing, No Square Poet, to the shoot, a book of haikus that embodied personal experiences of southern life. The format spoke to her as a person: settled in elegance, refined by allowing less to say more.
While she stands alone in her work, the cohesive intertwinement between her and Chris weaves a compelling tapestry. And that goes as well for Lyle and Hoang, who also imbued their own artform into the collective offered on the rocks. There is an element of cohesion here that cannot be overstated: Seancing creativity takes vision, teamwork, and empowerment.
And that goes for everyone here, including Q, who writes in evocation for deeper reflection. Lyle rides and documents the Richmond architecture and underground. Hoang is a man of few words but gives everything to the camera and his craft at the barber shop.
Ikigai is a philosophical perspective on living. It was popularized in the 1960s and contains four primary tenets. (Between you and me, this came from a suggested post off Threads). It includes: what you’re good at, what you love, what the world needs, and what you can get paid for.
In that bundle, you can see and feel the strands of creativity here: clothing, writing, styling, and street. All we have are our passions. And when we think of artistry harnessed by others, it can pull on strings unbeknown to us.
Throughout the shoot, Chris requested anonymity when portraying his likeness a la MF DOOM. “I don’t show my face so when I’m famous, I can still go shop at Walmart.”
Back in the lab, music plays an integral role in Curry’s process. “I like to play some Miles Davis, Tame Impala, Smino, and Fortaines DC.” he continued, “They all kind of give me a different approach to garments, and I utilize accordingly.”
Continuity is a central cord in Curry’s work. “My culture as a whole is what drew me to making clothes. Thinking about the role African Americans hold in fashion: why not be a source in a sense?” Whether it’s drawing from vestiges of the past or the aspirations of the material’s lifespan. “I aim for every garment to be worthy enough to be passed down.”
The threads inherited from predecessors have been stained by turmoil, washed in renewal, and dyed with hope. Chris is taking his turn to upcycle; curating universal textiles into one-of-one exhibits, worn to stand the test of time.
“Being an artist of some sort has allowed me to be influenced by everything, everything. Art is in everyday life. Everyday life is Art.”
When asked to set aside the fruits of his labor, Chris Curry reflected on what lines remained: ‘creative, optimistic, observant, and resourceful’.
Behind all the clotheslined garments, Chris Curry is scrupulously honing every fiber of his collection. It’s evident from each ensemble that there are no seams between him and his passions. And when we find that intangible quality within ourselves, we find it also throughout the natural world.
To honor the co-op endowment brought by kindred creatives, these words are given:
The gift of nothing
Can promise us everything
Inherit the wind
For a deeper dive on this story, visit https://penroseprojex.com/f/heir-to-the-wind
Also, check out EMBMNT HERE