Houstonian Josh Allen started free-hand drawing Chaos, a black and white abstract pattern with hints of a rougher, messier Keith Haring, back in 2008, when he was in eighth grade. But it wasn't until a classmate at Johnson & Wales University asked him to make an outfit covered in the print that Allen (full name: Joshua Allen Springer) realized his artistic vision. Chaos has served as a creative North Star for his art ever since, magnified and deconstructed a hundred different ways. Now his creative vision has coalesced around Richard&Grace, the art-centric fashion line Allen launched in 2013, based both in Houston (where he produces his visual art) and New York (where the clothing is manufactured).
"I made a conscious decision to create an art brand, not a clothing line," says Allen. "When you walk in Barney's you see all this visual merchandising when you buy a coat. But can you take it with you? No."
This week he unveiled his fourth Richard&Grace collection and look-book, teased on his Instagram with a DJ Screw track dubbed over a Kurosawa film. It's an homage to cross-cultural cues called Tokyo Texas: a modern melding of traditional Japanese garments rendered with an athleisure bent and distinctly Texas cues—think of an obi, but done in heavy, bleached denim. Or shiny kimono rendered in lightweight nylon and paired with a sports bra and matching joggers. One oversized tee features a head shot of DJ Screw.
Allen says the collection is inspired by his trip to Tokyo in 2016, and how inspired he was by the fashion and architecture, especially in the unexpected ways it reminded him of his native Third Ward.
"People in Houston don't realize how cool we are. If someone in Houston came to a party in an oversized white T-shirt, we'd think they're lame. I saw Japanese people in baggy clothing, and it's all about style," says Allen.
Next week Allen and his team head to Berlin, where Richard&Grace will show at Seek Home, an international fair for contemporary fashion. He's hoping to have e-commerce available via his website later in the spring as well.
"I want people all over the world to see what Houston, Texas is doing," he says.