Corey Populus, 33, has always found beauty in the whirling, fluid nature of not only LA fashion and streetwear but also life. There is a freedom in that, something Populus has managed to capture and redistribute through its brand and creative studio, Circulate. It’s a version of emancipation he’s pursued since he was ten years old on skateboards at Leimert Park, then as an intern transitioning to Fairfax, and then, when he left the position. sales position at Diamond Supply to become an entrepreneur in his own right .
Now, Populus is giving that same feeling to others – by upskilling other Black-owned LA brands and by making charitable donations through Circulate Market or educational initiatives. his education through Circulate Arts. This June 16, the designer is celebrating by doing what he does: rotating resources and wearing his stuff. “It’s Circulate,” Populus said. “A tool for delivering a message, giving feedback, or building community. That is the more important value. In this essay, speaking to Julissa James, Populus analyzes why Circulate is more than just a t-shirt and why he hopes it can be used as a tool for self-liberation.
I’ve traveled the world and seen different things that will change your outlook on life. I think that’s why I want to give back to the community so much.
I show the kids how printing t-shirts or how using this program can change their entire lives – they could be the next me, or whatever.
You know, they have to see that to be that.
Circulate is a tool for delivering messages, giving feedback or building community. That’s the key value – circulating more than one t-shirt. [I got the concept] after looking up the exact definition of “circulating”. It is “passing things from one person to another.”
[Take a] the life of the piece of clothing. I’m wearing the shirt today, and I’ll be giving it to my little cousin a year from now. Then he grew out of it and took it to Goodwill. Now someone else will buy that shirt. It goes on living. And then another part of it, I said, “I can deliver any kind of message I want.”
I always make sure I’m sharing my friends’ stuff; they are doing the same thing. That’s how we continue to dominate the space: by sharing resources and talking about each other when we’re not in the same room. Any chance that I can give it back anyway, that’s usually what I’m trying to do.
Everyone thinks they can run a brand, but when you really get burned, it’s more than just printing a hoodie and t-shirt and putting an image on Instagram. It’s not always flashy and glamorous. But I wouldn’t change it for anything.
I was in the immediate pre-pandemic moment. I felt like, “My brand is really starting to take off. I will go up next. “Then the pandemic hit. I’ve been selling Circulate to PacSun since we started. [Then] they had to close a bunch of stores and cancel my order. When the pandemic started to fade and all the protests were going on, I made the shirts and graphics that were related to the uprising. PacSun got back to me and said, “Yo, we’re about to start reopening stores. We would love to get some products. ” I said, “Yes, but I have a great idea.”
During that time, everyone was saying, “Let’s support black business! It hurts.” All of these online publications have compiled these lists: “Here are 10 Black Brands You Should Know.” It’s the same people all the time. (People shouldn’t be taken lightly. That’s because a lot of them are my friends.) But I said, “Yo, there’s a lot of brands here that are owned by black people and are doing great things. They’re abandoning us. ”
That sparked the Cyclical Market – I wanted to highlight the Blacks-owned brands that I liked and bring attention to them, because I was tired of seeing people being bullied. same suspicion. PacSun has a big foundation, so I said to them, “Can we add a charitable component to it? Let each brand come and choose a charity that resonates with them? “They were very on board. I had to pick Kacey Lynch from Bricks & Wood, Anwar Carrot and all my really close friends. We opened a pop-up store in downtown LA and also in New York. We made a charity shirt. It’s amazing and it’s really organic.
That’s the whole premise: I want to share my resources with my friends. And then we also share our resources with various charities. Now, I do the Circulatory Market every year. For the last one I did, I picked up new brands and we did a charity shirt – a partnership with Dime Jones’ Clean Up South Central – to help rebuild the computer lab at the College. Bret Harte Preparatory Middle School in South Central.
I am trying to create different pillars of Circulate. Circulate Arts is about the cultural thing and tells a story – I just got the NFL team, a shirt by Kenny Washington, the first Black soccer player to sign with the NFL. He’s from LA, went to UCLA. Then there’s ReCirculate – it’s all about sustainability and helping the Earth. I’ll be relaunching it in September. Then there’s another section of Circulate called Circulations, it’s all music and jazz – I made this really cool shirt with a growth chart of African-American music.
15-year-old Corey will hang out on Corey just like I am now. Being able to wake up when I want, go for a walk whenever I want, travel freedom, financial freedom. Do you understand what I mean?
I get to be myself.
https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/image/story/2022-06-15/liberation-looks-like-putting-your-homies-on-meet-corey-populus-the-l-a-designer-trying-to-circulate-resources L.A. designer supports community through fashion, streetwear