‘The World Needs More Black Designers’ – Jeremy Meeks On Stepping Off The Catwalk

The man who rose to fame via a viral mugshot has created his own fashion line.

Jeremy Meeks

by Grazia |

Hear the name Jeremy Meeks and your mind will, almost certainly, imagine a photograph that has followed him for years. It’s a mugshot, shared online by the Stockton Police Department in 2014. It went viral, and suddenly he was famous, one of the strangest examples in showbusiness of how someone can be plucked from obscurity into a world of parties and private jets. The world is, after all, full of people who have committed crimes, entered the prison system and, burdened by a criminal record, struggled to get their life back on track. Jeremy is not one of those people. While he was propelled into the limelight by notoriety – his initial charge was assault, and he was later charged with gun possession – his resolve and enviable bone structure led him to become an internationally successful model. Now, after years of watching and learning, he’s entering the fashion design sphere that just might make his name and separate himself at last from the moniker of The Hot Felon.

‘Before I even came into public attention, society had their biases, judgements and labels for me’, Jeremy tells Grazia. ‘That’s called being a black man. But that has really motivated me.’ He cites a quote by Booker T. Washington – American author, orator and Presidential advisor – as a personal favourite: “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which [one] has overcome while trying to succeed.”

‘There is nothing better than getting baptised in real experience’, he says of how modeling set him on the path to design. ‘It’s taught me to be patient, it’s taught me to show myself compassion, it’s taught me to be very focused about pursuing my dream in spite on non-believers and doubters. It’s kind of cool to watch the process of how things go from just an idea in my head to market.’

Jeremy Meeks
©Jeremy Meeks

His story of incarceration followed by an attempt at redemption is, he says, what makes his brand unique. ‘The line represents resilience,’ he explains. ‘Falling down, and getting back up.’ The line, self-titled Jeremy Meeks, has offerings for men and women which, Jeremy hopes, ‘exudes quality, confidence and uniqueness.’

‘The world needs more black designers,’ he points out. ‘My inspirations are art, black people, edge and culture.’ He cites Nipsey Hussle, Basquiat and artists like Hebru Brantley as particular muses.

Jeremy, like most of us, has found lockdown hard, but it has offered highs as well as lows. He’s kept busy through work, tennis and is ‘really excited’ to have started therapy. ‘I have been able to bond with my son that’s here with me in the States, work from home, get into a good routine of working out and focusing on making the best of this time with my son,’ he explains.

The father of two sons – Jeremy Jr, who he co-parents with ex-wife Melissa, and Jayden, the result of his relationship with Topshop heiress Chloe Green – he’s hoping that the uncertainty of 2020 will give way to a happier future.

‘I hope the future holds change, not just for me but literally for this world’, he says. ‘Less hate, more love, lots more compassion. From a professional standpoint, I want to really walk in and find my purpose.’

Will the world ever separate the man from the crimes? Whatever the answer, Jeremy says the question doesn't keep him awake at night. ‘I do not feel I have anything to prove to people like that. I am proud of my success in my career, because I want to make my people proud.’

View the Jeremy Meeks line here

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