Scrolling around on google to find the proper quote to speak on how fashion intertwines with identity, I was disappointed and unsurprised at how often Carrie Bradshaw came up. Not only is she fictional, but she’d never scratch the surface of the anthemic, stimulating, and iconic nature of all that encompasses Trap House Chicago. When I finally found the simple words from Abrima Erwiah of Studio 189, “What you wear matters. It affects other people. It affects what you put on your heart,” I couldn’t think of a more suitable line for Trap House Chicago.
Trap House Chicago is a Black-owned business that uses streetwear and dialogues to promote a crime and violence- free South and West Side. Trap stands for “Truth reaching all people,” and though Chicago is their hometown and current area of focus, their mantra speaks to multitudes that know no bounds. More than just a brand, they open up their storefront as a safe and open space for cyphers, pop-up shops, and other events. They’re a trusted educational resource spreading knowledge on restorative justice. More than anything Trap House is a lifestyle in which they don’t encourage just a one time visit or a one time purchase of a shirt when you walk into their shop. When you meet Mashaun Ali or Heavy Crownz, the two main owners and organizers of Trap House, you’re immediately welcomed as part of the family, and more importantly as part of the cause. In the friendliest way possible, they school white people on true allyship- how showing up means showing up over and over, listening and learning- they give black people the room to breathe, talk, and flourish, with vibes emulated among their own positivity and greatness, and they give back to their community. With food drives, open door events, and woven into their mission, clothes, and merchandise, they give their people the tools to be healthy, independent, thriving individuals. Leading by example, the Trap House team makes their job look so effortless and fun, exuding mentorship. When you walk past the Trap House storefront and see friends smiling, freestyle rapping, and drinking at the end of the night after a long day of feeding the neighborhood…you can’t help but smile too. Heavy and Mashaun are the entrepreneurs, the people, the leaders, and the friends we need more of in this world.
Now let’s talk about these CLOTHES. Trap House clothes demand attention like protestors demand justice, like our letters demand arrests, but with much more swag. The messages are ahead of the game with designs that are bold, daring, and direct. They make you LOOK like a badass but make you feel in the know and special. This exclusive concept derives from the fact that a lot of the shirts prompt thought as opposed to telling you what to think. For example, one of my favorite designs is a shirt that says “CRIME PAYS” on the front and slathered on the back, it lists all of the careers that profit from crime, until it reaches the bottom, and like the bleak realness of a mic drop: it reads “BUT NOT US.” Another amazing design is a simple white t-shirt that states “79th street is the equator.” I’m not going to explain that one because if I have to, girl you spend too much time in Logan Square. Referencing back to Abrima’s quote from above, “fashion affects what you put on your heart.” Why are we bored, mindlessly scrolling and spending on sites that exploit fast fashion when we could support a business like Trap House? I challenge you: What are you putting on your heart?
Visit Trap House Chicago at 744 E. 79th.
Donate and volunteer for Feed 79th every Saturday from 12-3 pm