Local fashion designer endures through setbacks, uncertain times
Local fashion designer Brandon Barnes is the CEO and designer of Dauren fashion label that launched online in 2018. His line is currently one of the local businesses showcased at the Mall of America’s (MOA) Community Commons.
“What we have to offer here at the Community Commons is an experience, to look at our unique products, to have these encounters with us, understand our story, our perspective, and experiences throughout the COVID [era],” said Barnes of the space located on the second level of the MOA.
Before Barnes received an opportunity to showcase his unique business at MOA, he encountered minor setbacks. “Right before the pandemic happened, I launched my online site about a month before. One month we did exceptional,” said Barnes.
But the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted sales. “People were more concerned about health and safety than clicking a button to buy fashion,” said Barnes. Luckily, the business has regained momentum again.
Dauren is derived from the word endurance. To elaborate, “We have to have endurance to get through something that is very frightening and uncertain,” said Barnes. Attitude is everything and he’s happy to relaunch at MOA.
When I visited the Community Commons on a Thursday afternoon, curious consumers took time to view and appreciate the artistry of the popular, cherry T-shirts. The clean and crisp look of the T-shirts seemed to be an instant draw.
The eye-catching and high-fashion Dauren fashion line offers a total of 20 designs. Customers can also expect to see vibrant winter wear, like plush, warm and vibrant hoodies. The most popular item is “the cherry tee and the cherry hoodie,” said Barnes. The price range is $38-$45 for all products.
There’s a lot of groundwork that goes into building a fashion line. Barnes has designed all articles of clothing that he sells. “I’m the creative director, developer of this brand, photographer, everything that you see here,” he said. His professional photos were also displayed in his space.
What inspired him to launch a fashion line? “Honestly just fashion,” said Barnes. “I was actually inspired by pop culture, just historical things in life … things that I’ve seen—colors, beautiful shapes—made me want to be in fashion.
“And I wanted this brand specifically to be versatile. So, people could wear this daytime, nighttime, anytime, and anywhere,” said Barnes.
On what inspires him, Barnes said: “Being able to know at some point I can give back to people. I keep the consumer in mind; I think just connecting with society and humanity. And being able to fulfill our philosophy of working together. That’s actually our mantra and company philosophy, working together.”
Overall, collaboration is the theme that surrounds his unique fashion label. Barnes currently works with another local business. “I get my labels made by the artistic director; his name is Andre Sackman and he also has a company called Love Disorder, which represents mental health and awareness and includes fashion in it. So, he basically put those tags in—shout-out to him.”
Barnes advised the youth to “stay curious and don’t hold back. If you have goals just stay focused on that and believe in yourself. Tell yourself—even if you gotta tell yourself every day— in the mirror that I’m worth it. I’m somebody; I can do this. Believe that!”
When asked about the importance of supporting Black-owned businesses, Barnes said, “It’s important, because what we have to offer is unique, and being able to expose those unique products, that represents our culture, our style, which has been implemented in society for years. I think it’s important for us to get that notoriety,” said Barnes.
Find more information about Dauren by going to www.daurenworldwide.com or the shop’s IG: @daurenworldwide. Community Commons is located at 238 South Avenue, Bloomington on the second floor. Store hours are Monday-Wednesday 11 am to 7 pm, Thursday-Saturday 10 am to 8 pm, and Sunday 11 am to 7 pm.
Ashley Lauren is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder.