Détroit Is the New Black founder Roslyn Karamoko in her Corktown factory.
Détroit Is the New Black founder Roslyn Karamoko in her Corktown factory. Peter Baker

Here’s the Motor City’s Hottest Designer: 'Détroit Is the New Black’

After steadily building her locally made line, Détroit Is the New Black, for the past three years, Roslyn Karamoko opened a flagship store on Woodward Avenue this July. It’s quickly become a go-to stop for locals and visitors alike.

Karamoko—a Seattle native—spent six years as a retail buyer in New York and Singapore before moving to Detroit in 2013. The city soon felt like home, but she found the fashion scene lackluster. So that Christmas, Karamoko printed a batch of tees to give to friends, each emblazoned with Détroit Is the New Black. The accent, she explains, recalls Detroit’s French origins, while the “New Black” is a nod to both the racial history and the current renaissance of the city. The shirts were a hit. Karamoko opened an online shop, and later a factory store, where she hosted pop-up events with more-established designers like Tracy Reese. Karamoko now makes shirts and sweaters with the DITNB logo, and will soon add more of her own designs, including dresses and jackets. At her new shop, she carries other labels from Detroit’s nascent fashion scene, like Lazlo and Douglas & Co., whose minimalist-contemporary aesthetic complements her own.

As her company continues to grow, Karamoko hopes it can serve a dual purpose, helping Detroit move forward while ensuring that those who have been there all along still have a place at the table and the means to stay there. “Providing a label that people in this city can work for, and design for, and be a part of growing—that’s the ultimate goal,” Karamoko says. “To be here now and have the opportunity to build something that has a direct impact on the economy and fabric of the city is so exciting.”

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