Brkln Bloke Is the Sidewalk Streetwear Brand Making Waves

broklyn bloke uni
Sarah Jacobs/ONE37pm

A bloke is a British slang for a man or a fellow. If you’ve lived in Brooklyn in the past ten years or so, you’ve probably seen or run into the Brkln Bloke himself. His real name is Wayne Fortune, and he is the man behind one of New York City’s most unique streetwear brands. 

Fortune hails from London, where his entrepreneurial spirit was born out of a love for performance and dance. He earned his first check at 13 by dancing for Adidas and immediately spent it on Jordans, which he enjoyed on the walk home from the store—until his mother made him return them because of their absurd price tag. 

Brkln Bloke has built its brand presence through a series of pop-up stores around New York and has become well known its disruptive street pop-up concept in multiple Brooklyn locations. Fortune creates an engaging and compelling boutique shopping experience that stands alone in this format. His raw hustle and “ground-up” style of connecting with consumers has embedded the Brkln Bloke brand as next in the minds of customers, locally and globally.

Fortune is one of those guys who naturally exudes a balance of self-confidence and humility that draws you in. His clothes, brand and the decisions he makes about where and when you see him embodies this aura. 

The designer and founder has lived in Brooklyn for a decade and has resided in many different neighborhoods but now calls an apartment within walking distance of Prospect Park in Prospect Leffert Gardens home. We tracked Fortune down on the streets and asked him our most pressing questions.

ONE37pm: You’ve lived in the states for a while now, what was growing up across the pond like?

Wayne Fortune: Growing up, hip-hop culture was everything. If I had any extra cash, I was buying the latest Big Daddy Kane album or trying to get my hands on some Jordans. Hip-hop culture was so expressive with colors—graffiti on the jeans. It’s certainly changed a lot, but the ability for customization is always something I understood.

You were living in Atlanta before New York. What made you move north?

Fortune: It took me three tries to live in New York before I found the right rhythm. In order to get that, you have to understand your community and feel the energy of the people. I was looking at the cultural evolution of Brooklyn, thinking, “Where is this going to go?” But in Atlanta, I spent a ton of time on Peter Street. You’d be in the studio and Nas would be right there, Young Jeezy is over there and the manager is in the car listening to new music. You can actually feel and touch people. I always wanted to maneuver in a way that was through genuine connections, because I believe you can move quicker and smarter that way. I used that energy and took it to Brooklyn.

How did you come up with the name BRKLN Bloke?

Fortune: I always liked Bloke because it's an old British slang and it’s inclusive. It’s a love for your fellow man, speak-to-everybody type of vibe. I wanted to offer a modern statement. I had the chance to live in multiple places in Brooklyn and really connect and touch the people in different neighborhoods and communities.

What was the inspiration behind starting your own clothing brand?

Fortune: Growing up, I always wanted to dress clean. My mates and I were always competing to one-up each other. Eventually, we graduated to a real clean and simple look—that became the identity. That’s what success meant: where you got to a point where you didn’t have to pay so much attention to all the accessories of what you’re wearing you just simplified it. That's the background for Brkln Bloke aesthetic and how I found my lane—just trying to be myself and what I thought brought cultures together.

What makes Brkln Bloke different from other streetwear brands?

Fortune: I really built the brand about the people, and I only want to showcase the people. That’s been my approach to everything that I’ve done. I’m from a time period where your uniqueness was everything. Everything I do at Brkln Bloke is more of a classic and sustainable look. The brand should represent the people, that’s who I’m doing it for. I’m doing it for the idea of culture, creativity and community.

I’m doing it for the idea of culture, creativity and community.

- Wayne Fortune of Brklyn Bloke

How competitive is the New York City streetwear market?

Fortune: Unbelievably, stupidly competitive. I’m not an exclusive brand or a trendy brand. I don’t want customers lining up around the bloody building—my environment is all about something much more approachable and meaningful connection. My goal is to sustain that throughout the brand’s lifespan. I don’t want to compete with the Supremes of the world. The only way I can describe it is a classic and sustainable style.

What is your morning routine?

Fortune: I am up between 5 to 6 a.m., and I read or listen to an audiobook right away. I read a page a day of the author Og Mandino. After that, it’s going to be black coffee followed by a minimum 5K run outside. I get really focused on the run; I need that runner’s high. There’s just something I get out of running that I need. Then it’s off to work to do what I got to do.

What do you do to relax?

Fortune: To be an entrepreneur or a person that is driven by their passion is to live in a state of anxiety. Your mind is always triggered by something, especially if you’re doing it for yourself. So for me, it’s running—that is what allows me to keep me being Wayne and keeps me being able to do what I do.

What’re you listening to right now?

Fortune: Freddie Gibbs, Bandana; Dave East, Survival.

What advice would you give a future entrepreneur looking to get involved in streetwear?

Fortune: Try not to rush and try to soak up as much of the process as possible. Even guys that are technically ahead of me are making mistakes I would never make. Get one idea going and see if you can sell it 1,000 times. Then you know you’re in business. Once you have the product, all you should think about is positioning. I’ve only met people by being visible.

Where can someone find you?

Fortune: I’m currently in Williamsburg on Bedford Street and North 7th. You can find me on social media at @BrklnBloke.

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