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Barbadian designer battles Alzheimers with fashion

Fashion with an element: Romel Brewster, fashion designer and creator of Human Element Square, also known as HESQ, launched his brand a few years ago. Brewster says he wants his brand to go international and fight homelessness and Alzheimers disease.
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A Brooklyn-based fashion designer is serving up stylish looks with a charitable cause.

Arriving in United States from Barbados at 13 years old, Romel Brewster was not always sure he was going to be a fashion designer. He did not have any immediate skills in fashion or much knowledge about creating. Now as a fashion designer for his own line called Human Element Square — also known as HE Square — he is creating style and is helping important causes a long the way.

“Human Element Square is not just a clothing company — it’s a brand of sustainability, improvement, motivation, and development,” said Romel Brewster, founder and creator of Human Element Square. Brewster has big dreams for himself and his line, even setting large goals for his future.

“My goal is to save 20,000 lives by 2030 — its a big goal but its possible,” he says.

As a child he recalled watching fashion-based soap operas such as “The Bold and the Beautiful,” unaware that a fashionable talent was brewing inside of him. That talent would grow when Brewster found himself working in retail for four years, exposing himself to the fashions at Express and H&M. Soon after he found himself at another job, where an injury caused damage to his left hand. The accident resulted in a depressive state of mind for Brewster.

“At one point my left hand was only 50 percent functional, and when that happened I started to get really depressed,” he said.

But the incident encouraged him go to New York City College of Technology, where he studied fashion marketing. During his studies, he took his first leap into fashion designing, using his self-taught skills to design a top for a college fashion show.

“I have no experience and I’m self taught,” said Brewster. “But once I saw my design down the runway I got hooked — I felt really inspired. I had no knowledge of how to sew or sketch, and I got hooked and since then I’ve been designing.”

Gaining inspiration from the fashion show, he started focusing on his own styles and launched Human Element Square in 2013. Brewster says his brand’s name is inspired by human evolution, and how human diversity changes fashion.

“I believe in the ability of humans to overcome obstacles. It takes two humans to produce one,” said Brewster. “From that one person comes a new identity, creativity, innovation, ideas, but it pays homage to predecessors. It helps establish their own identity and still be able to make a statement and not get lost in a crowd.”

Brewster’s influences run from American designers such as Issac Mizrahi, to Italian designer Emilio Pucci, inspired by their business strategies and boldness.

With HE Square, Brewster produces versatile designs that blend with the day to day lives of people, offering looks for different occasions.

“My collection is versatile— it’s transitional pieces that you can wear to work and go to a cocktail afterwards,” he said. “You can be casual but still walk into a venue that requires you to look a certain way.”

At 31 years old, Brewster is using his fashion line and skills to address global issues such as homelessness, and the ecosystem.

“I’m influenced by the world. My last three collections have been influenced by what’s happening in the world,” said Brewster. “My oceans and pearls collection was influenced by all the pollution that’s happening with the ocean.”

Last year, Brewster designed sleeping bags for the homeless sleeping in freezing temperatures.

“I was able to produce five sleeping bags. I saw people sleeping on the floor in the cold, and I can sew and create, so why not make something that can be useful?” he said.

Brewster says growing his line into a fortune 500 company is a goal, but doing a world-service by bringing attention to serious issues is his passion.

“My brand is not just about clothing — it’s a stepping stone to save lives because there are many changes happening in the world.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.
Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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