Brandon Alston (left) turns memories into wearable art with his Fresh Prince Fits Designs | provided

Fresh Prince Fits Designs is inspired by one of founder Brandon Alston’s favorite television shows: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Alston’s love for the show, which was the breakout vehicle for Oscar-winning actor Will Smith, stemmed from the way it portrayed healthy Black masculinity. 

“I loved how the show challenged the natural stereotypes that went along with men in fashion and more specifically Black men in fashion,” Alston said. “I think they did a really excellent job in his style and his fashion, showing how even though he’s still this kid from the streets … he can still be bright and happy and lighthearted and eye-catching with his outfits. Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.”

Now Alston, an actor himself, is pushing the boundaries of local fashion, exploring what it can be and mean through Fresh Prince Fits Designs.

“Becoming a designer was never really a legitimate thought for me,” Alston said. “I remember as a kid I was really into fashion. It was never something that I was legitimately working towards. That’s not to say I didn’t have any skill or training in it at all.” 

Growing up, Alston went to The Waldorf School of Atlanta, which integrated the arts in as many aspects as possible. One of those arts was in clothing design and construction: Alston learned to knit in first grade.

“[That was] my first introduction to sewing, and I really loved it,” Alston said. “We made pajama pants that year, and I finished mine months before the rest of the class. So my teachers asked if there was anything else I wanted to make. I ended up making a cosplay: one of the cloaks from Naruto.”

Alston is currently studying acting as a theater major at the College of Charleston (CofC). He recently starred in Pipeline at CofC and in Pure Theatre’s production of Mlima’s Tale. As a theater student, costuming classes are required, which reinvigorated his love for clothing design.

“It was all coming back to me,” Alston recalled of his first costuming class. “It was right in the middle of Covid so I had a lot of free time.” Alston’s college work led to him working as a designer on a number of stage shows, including the aforementioned Mlima’s Tale.

Alston has been surrounded by friends and roommates also in the clothing business. Their apartments were filled with racks and racks of clothing, which Alston spent a year upcycling. Support from friends encouraged Alston to join a pop-up as a designer.

His first commissioned piece was a sweatshirt, remade from an old vintage Nike hoodie. He joined it with a found tapestry and another sweatshirt. “My first real commissioned piece for somebody,” Alston said of the item. “And that’s when they were like, ‘Oh you actually have a good eye for this. You could definitely take this somewhere.’”

Alston said he was worried about keeping up with the other artists around him when he first started selling his wares at pop-ups, but quickly discovered that he just needed to keep up with demand. He now works at least two pop-ups every month. His professional instagram, @fresh.prince.fits, is full of images of his best designs: jackets, pants, sweatshirts, shorts. Each piece is unique and a combination of original pieces and new fabrics and designs.

Alston doesn’t feel he has a set process. “There are designers I really admire and think do incredible work, but for me, each piece is a lot more about what can be made out of what I’ve had in that moment. It’s harder to take inspiration from actual designers,” he said. His process is really improvised. 

“Each piece is unique and extremely different from the rest,” he said. Alston prides himself on not having a specific niche, rather being a freeflow artist. For him, it’s more about the act of discovering and renewing a piece. “I like the idea that each thing is so unique because of where its blemishes are.”

As a big fan of the show for which his business is named, Alston enjoys being known locally as “The Fresh Prince.” But the moment Alston said he felt he’d really arrived as a designer came at one of his pop-ups two months into his young career. 

“I remember, looking across and noticing somebody wearing a shirt I made,” Alston said. “Oh man. Not only is that something I’ve created now existing in the world, but  it was something that somebody chose to wear to one of these events. Events that people normally want to look good for, want to put on a good outfit for. So it was just so incredible and so gratifying to think that something I made was important enough to somebody and special enough to somebody to want to share it with the world in this way. And more specifically with the community in this way.

“Not to mention there was not a single person around wearing anything like it. So it really was a little validation for the work I was doing as well.”

Moving forward, Alston is hoping to expand the business. A website, freshprincefits.com, will be coming in the next few months, with Alston hoping to not only sell what he’s been working on but take on more commissions from customers to work on items that are completely original for each person. 

“I love the idea of people being able to wear their story,” Alston said. “So I can take clothing that is from their lives, that has important meaning to them, and incorporate it into their everyday favorite sweatshirt. So now this piece that they’re wearing, not only is it one of a kind, but it’s specific to them and tells the world a little bit about who they are.”


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