Words by Zoe Zorka
It’s been said that it’s not what a man wears that changes the world, but the man who is wearing it that makes the change. Yet Jordan LeRoy, a popular west coast fashion designer, is proving that what a man wears can indeed bring about change as he fuses hip-hop, fashion, and activism in the quest to fight racism and equality through his VSTRO brand of clothing.
Two years ago, fashion wasn’t even on LeRoy’s radar when he started theAstroknots (although you have to admit the idea of nautical space knots does sound pretty fashion-forward). As it turns out, theAstroknots was a group of artists which LeRoy brought together to collectively create art from multiple mediums to share with the world. Their main outlet was hip-hop. LeRoy was producing instrumentals at the time, while running a small studio out for emerging local hip-hop artists. He and his team would gather almost daily and together worked tirelessly for hours honing their crafts and building a network throughout the Rocky Mountains. While theAstroknots didn’t take off as a musical group, it became the foundation for Leroy’s growth, allowing him to initially spread his name throughout the city- especially in the music and arts community.
LeRoy realized that while people were energized by the idea of a brand that showed their pride in local hip hop, he needed to have a tangible product to sell, and thus was born VSTRO.
Style, Street Cred, and Sustainability
When designing VSTRO, LeRoy focused on not only developing a line far superior to most in fit, comfort, and style but also in reflecting a greater subculture of Western hip hop. “I combine multiple styles together with popular street wear trends, which breathes fresh life into street fashion world, in my opinion. Furthermore, all of our products are made by hand, from scratch, by our cut and sew partners. This allows us to ensure that we are always releasing 100% original VSTRO products for our customers,” says LeRoy, as he examines the intricate stitching in one of his jackets.
Fashion Opposing Fascism
However, what sets VSTRO apart from its competitors is its message, most notably found in the FVCK RACISM line of t-shirts that debuted this past fall in the wake of the Charlottesville incident.
According to LeRoy, “the FVCKRACISM movement stands in direct opposition of racism everywhere. Not just against African Americans. Not just in America. We are an inclusive movement ready to represent the human race as a whole. The entire world needs to adopt this ideology and eradicate the acknowledgement of skin tone differentiation completely. This is an accomplishable goal if we all stand together, united, and refuse to back down until it is accomplished. As a movement we actually intend to do just that. Move forward- specifically, in the direction of a better, more compassionate, and understanding world.”
A Local Leader, A Global Icon
While many brands claim to be “woke,” LeRoy practices what he preaches through VSTRO’s numerous charitable endeavors as well as community events. On a cold winter morning a week before Christmas, LeRoy and his crew organized a coat and clothing drive and then spent four hours in frigid temperatures passing donations out to local homeless residents with little more than a space heater to keep them warm. As the wet snow fell on the sidewalk in one of the grimiest parts of town, LeRoy brought a homeless woman under the VSTRO tent to fix a jammed zipper on a boot, making sure that she had enough warm socks before she left.
LeRoy’s philosophy on activism through fashion is quite simple. “Upon the creation of my brand, I decided that I wanted my clothing to represent something more than just a brand. When I sat down to think about it, I realized that the clothes we wear are essentially billboards advertising our personalities and our beliefs,” he says. “When I came to this realization, I uncovered the true power that a clothing brand can possess. A brand can be a foundational platform which provides stability for the artist looking to share a sincere message with the world. The creators of a brand can use their platform to spread a message, whether positive or negative, to the furthest reaches of society- to places not as easily reached by other industries. For VSTRO, that activism has taken shape in the form of activism against racism and mental illness awareness, as well as serving as a beacon of encouragement for all those who seek to manifest a dream into reality. We seek to inspire the dreamers and the believers, the thinkers and the achievers. I guess you could say I want to be the spark that ignites the flame.”
Without a doubt, VSTRO’s flame will be making fashion a little hotter this spring as the brand (and more importantly, the movement) continue to grow.
VSTRO can be found online at https://vstrobrand.com/ and on Instagram at @vstrobrand.