For designers Téla D’Amore (@teladamore_) and Ev Bravado (@murderbravado), it’s New York or nowhere. The design duo seeks to infuse the excitement and energy synonymous with New York City into their fashion brand, Who Decides War. In this episode of In The Know: Style Changemakers, D’Amore and Bravado illustrate how they incorporate NYC street style and societal issues into their designs.
“Who Decides War is basically redefining Americana through the lens of people of color,” Bravado tells In The Know. “We don’t necessarily play into the political game of the fashion world,” D’Amore continues. “So we really stand alone.”
Instead of referring to the fashion industry for design inspiration, D’Amore and Bravado look to how everyday New Yorkers express themselves through clothing. “When we create, we think of these kids on the streets in SoHo, Uptown, Queens, Brooklyn, etc.,” Bravado says, citing them as the brand’s “everyday muses because those are the kids who are effecting change in the fashion world.”
Given the influence that street style has on their brand, it’s no surprise that denim is their main staple. “It’s really timeless. When you look at a lot of legacy brands, you see that denim always stands the test of time,” Bravado shares. “So we really try to create timeless pieces.”
For Bravado, a first-generation American, the inspirations and values that are ingrained in Who Decides War can be traced through his family lineage. “My connection to fashion goes from my father to my grandfather and grandmother,” he says, mentioning that his grandfather and grandmother were both tailors. “They’re vicariously living through me right now,” he shares, as the opportunities available to him were not attainable for them. “That’s one of the driving factors for what we do, because we weren’t born with a silver spoon in our mouth.”
At the forefront of Bravado and D’Amore’s design philosophy is “style,” a concept that goes way beyond the surface appearance of clothing. “Style is how you wake up in the morning and how you want to portray your feelings to the world with how you dress,” Bravado expresses. For D’Amore, “Style is about wearing your inside on the [outside]. It’s important to let it reflect how you feel.”
With regard to aspiring designers, D’Amore believes that “it’s important to listen to yourself and create a lane for yourself that works for you.” For Bravado, it’s essential to “follow your heart, listen to your gut and be authentic to yourself,” says the designer. “At the end of the day, just stay in line with your morals and your values.”
More from In The Know: