In the wee hours of Friday morning, Deric “Nyce” Crawley mindlessly scrolled through his phone. When he saw that the music video for “Already,” a song from Beyoncé‘s newest visual album Black Is King, was uploaded to YouTube, it stopped him in his tracks.
In one scene in “Already,” Ghanaian rapper Shatta Wale stood next to Beyoncé in a black-and-white, hand-painted motorcycle jacket designed by the Philly-based fashion brand, Jeantrix, which Crawley, 34, cofounded with Muhammad “Homm” Abdul-Basit, 35. In another scene, Shatta Wale wore a fringed leather jacket, also hand-painted by Jeantrix.
Crawley immediately sent a text message to Abdul-Basit to let him know the video for “Already,” and their garments, were on YouTube. Hours later, the entire visual album premiered on Disney+, where it’s now available to stream.
Black Is King is the visual companion to The Lion King: The Gift, a collection of music that Beyoncé performed, curated, and produced for the 2019 computer-animated reboot of Disney’s The Lion King.
The duo said they knew that their clothing might appear in the video. Last summer, they were approached by stylist Beoncia Dunn to pull pieces for a project with Beyoncé. Details of the project were kept mum.
“[Dunn] told us about a week before [Black Is King] came out,” that the items pulled were used, Crawley, a Chester native, said. “We were really excited about it.”
The two Jeantrix jackets worn by Shatta Wale were part of an unnamed capsule collection that was created in 2018. The inspiration for the collection was the graffiti artwork the two saw in Brooklyn, where they lived that year.
Abdul-Basit said that seeing his garments in Beyoncé‘s Black Is King was “bittersweet.” Last Wednesday, rapper Malik Abdul-Basit, known as Malik B and a founding member of the Roots, died. Malik B was Abdul-Basit’s brother.
“Not only am I celebrating a new journey for our brand with the release of the Beyoncé video,” Abdul-Basit said. “I’m also mourning the death of my older brother, so it’s been tough balancing the highs and lows of both.”
Both designers say their fashion designing know-how is self-taught. When they met through mutual connections in 2004, they didn’t have plans to start a brand. “It started with just one pair of sneakers,” said Abdul-Basit, who grew up in West Oak Lane. “We painted one pair of sneakers and we painted a T-shirt to match. Then, after that, people started requesting custom orders.”
Two years and hundreds of orders later, they officially launched their luxury streetwear brand, Jeantrix, in 2006. The brand’s signature look is graffiti-styled artwork and calligraphy applied to mostly denim and leather fabrics. Their garments have been spotted on such celebrities as Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, Lil’ Kim, Lil Nas X, Megan Thee Stallion, and others.
Philly Fashion Week’s cofounder Kevin Parker and his business partner Kerry Scott were early mentors to Crawley and Abdul-Basit. Parker said he was overwhelmed with excitement after seeing the Jeantrix garments in “Already.”
“We saw that they were very talented and ahead of their time with their design aesthetic,” Parker said. They’ve evolved their brand so far and now they’re just taking over the world. But we always knew they were incredible and we wanted to help nurture that.”
Parker describes the brand as “vibrant” and admires their innovative approach to fashion, “especially early on when they would take unconventional materials and created 3D items. It was all so futuristic,” he said.
Randi Edelman met the Jeantrix duo in 2014 when she was the director of marketing at Saks Fifth Avenue in Bala Cynwyd. Since then, she’s collaborated with the brand in several capacities including an in-store customizing station and mural work.
Edelman also noted how Jeantrix’s style has evolved, “but it hasn’t changed so much that you can’t recognize it.” She said she appreciates the duo’s ability to bring ideas to fruition, and their desire to build strong relationships with their clients.
“A lot of the times, designers will go into a project where they are very set on what their vision is,” Edelman said. “But that’s what I love about these guys, it’s always a collaboration.”
KeiManté Wright has known the owners of Jeantrix since 2016 and owns at least half a dozen custom garments from the brand. His favorite items are the hand-painted leather jackets.
“First and foremost, the jackets. When you have it on, you feel like a badass,” Wright said. “Everybody is watching you because it’s a big statement piece.”
Jeantrix’s prices range from $18 for a pair of socks to over $1,000 for a custom jacket.
Both owners know how to sew, but they buy garments wholesale and customize them with a variety of techniques and materials. A simple design with limited colors takes about two hours to complete, but a more elaborate design could take days.
The Jeantrix team has grown to include sample makers and patternmakers, “so you will see some constructed garments [by us] in the near future,” said Crawley.
Since Jeantrix’s work has been spotted in Black Is King, sales have increased and the brand has been getting a lot of attention, both designers agreed.
“To be a part of something so huge, not just for us but in music in general,” said Abdul-Basit. “It’s like a dream come true. We’re still floating right now.”