Minneapolis community leader, “culture creator,” and designer, Houston White, has launched a distinct, stylish, and inclusive apparel line at Target. The Houston White for Target Collection is a direct reflection of Houston’s core beliefs about community, culture, and style.
According to White, he believes style is a celebration of who you are, and when we celebrate passion and style from unique perspectives, we cultivate stronger communities. “I want to make clothes that people want to live in, and that’s a core tenet of what you find at Target. Fashion forward but livable, usable.”
We had a chance to catch up with Houston and learn more about the line as well as the stories – and there are many – behind the man.
Congratulations on all the exciting things that have been happening for you, especially with the new Houston White For Target Collection.
Thank you so much. We appreciate that.
How did the whole idea come to fruition?
It all started when a few Target leaders, including CEO Brian Cornell, visited my barbershop in North Minneapolis. They came to learn what I’d been up to and listen to my ideas around celebrating the beauty of diversity and being a catalyst for community. I knew right away – Target folks are sincere, and they care deeply about making a difference in our community and in the world.
Brian was real and approachable, and he brought a lot of honesty to the room. It made me want to get to know him more. Since then, Brian has leaned into building a relationship with me. We talk about all sorts of things, from what I’ve got going on to how we can make an impact in our community. Whatever we’re discussing, it’s always very authentic and human.
What’s your biggest fashion inspiration?
I’m inspired by different decades and then bringing them together. In the 1980s, rappers dressed the same as our uncles. In the sixties, whether you were president or just stylish, the go-to was the skinny tie and black or blue suits. I thought, “there’s a look that’s powerful in any era.”
And how do you pivot that into The Houston White Collection?
The Houston White for Target Collection offers a modern take on American style and the idea that this is the wardrobe of an era, reflecting the times and the participants. Right now, I believe we are entering a seismic shift in fashion. So, here’s an opportunity. I wanted to lean into that and use the perspective of a designer to create a wardrobe that includes a mix of timeless and on-trend pieces with prints and patterns that reflect my passions, interests, and experiences.
So Target says, “All right, Houston, you’re on. We want to do a collection with you.” What do you think?
I think when Jill Sando, Target’s Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer, started doing weekly Zoom calls, I began to believe. Jill wasn’t just into the product, she was into me, Houston. As a person and as a creator. That was the dopest thing to me. Target and I were on the same page.
Who was the first person you called?
My mom. Immediately. In fact, my mom was with me when I signed the contract with Target. From the time I was young, my mom curated the ability for me to become a creative. She paved the way with her support and love. There was no other person I even considered sharing the news with other than Mom.
How do you hope the new line impacts people?
I hope it affects them in different ways. I hope that it connects them. Fashion can be siloed, just like barbershops or the beauty aisle. I want this line to bring folks together. I love that women flock to the flight suit – https://www.target.com/p/houston-white-adult-long-sleeve-jumpsuit-green-s/-/A-86165915 – and feel good about just going in the men’s section and shopping because it’s for all of us.
I hope people find the line, enjoy it, and flex. It’s all about how you feel.
You said earlier that style can really help boost your confidence.
Yep. It’s a nonverbal form of communication. You see people walking up or down the street and based on how they look, there’s a perception. It’s not about good or bad. Are you walking like you own that look? Style has the means of creating self-confidence. And that’s really interesting and fun.
Imagine you’re hopping in a time machine to go back to the basement where you were selling t-shirts from. What words of inspiration do you offer to that young Houston?
Oh Man. What do I say to Houston? Honestly, I would say the world ain’t ready! I always had this inclination that I was going to do something big, but I didn’t know how. But I knew I was different from everyone else. So, I would tell Houston, “Stay. Stay true to your difference. No one really knows when success is going to happen or how it’s going to happen. Do not tamp down your creative prowess or try to fit into society’s expectations. Just keep going. Keep trusting. Keep hustling. And keep listening. Fail forward. Because eventually the world is going to find out that you have a perspective that’s very important.”
The Houston White for Target Collection is now available only at Target: target.com
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