By Andrea V. Watson
Clothes speak. They send a message. Step out in a Kings Arise shirt and you’re communicating strength and pride, while serving up a little swag.
That’s the idea, says Kenneth LeDale, Chicago South Side resident and co-business owner of the men, women and children’s t-shirt line.
[Photo courtesy/Kenneth LeDale]
Those who are curious and want to capture a sample of the brand’s essence can experience it themselves at their upcoming fashion show, a “Rihanna Tribute,” on May 18. Location TBD, but follow them on Instagram @Kingsarise to stay up-to-date.
“We,” LeDale says, referring to Micah Butler, the creator of the line, “believe in not only having a message, but having something that’s stylistically wearable.”
His business partner, Butler, initially launched the line in 2016, to help raise money for his social activism efforts. About a year ago, the two met through mutual friends. LeDale took at seat at the table, quickly combining his skills with Butler’s to help elevate the business.
Besides being black men who grew up on the South Side, they share something unique in common, LeDale says. Both are combat army veterans. It was a perfect match to collaborate together, he goes on to say.
“Micah is definitely the technical part of the company,” LeDale says. “He can handle more of the analytical side of the business and I believe that I handle the personal side of it. Micah’s the head and I’m the heart; both are equally important.”
The concept of the line is original and compelling, LeDale says.
“We have our melanin t-shirt with different shades of [brown] so when we say clothes that speak, it’s like you can put that on as a black person of any color because colorism is something that is real.”
[Photo courtesy/Kenneth LeDale]
Kings Arise shirts also incorporate a play on words.
Catchy, yet powerful, call-to-action statements printed on the shirts such as Respect My Melanin and Listen to Black Women, Trust Black Women are meant to honor the role of today’s black woman, according to LeDale.
“I believe that black women have always been the pillar of the black community,” he says, “but it’s shifted, recently, to where they aren’t only the pillar in the home, but now they’re running Fortune 500 companies, no longer behind the black man, but right up front. That needs to be honored and respected.”
Currently, Kings Arise is a locally known brand, but the goal is to expand the reach beyond Chicago and connect with more influencers in the near future.
“We know that what we are creating is special, so now it’s just getting the rest of the world to see it,” LeDale says.
Kings Arise is fashion. It’s a statement. It’s power. More than that though, it’s the beginning of what LeDale says he hopes inspires the culture, and more importantly, the youth.
“We said no matter where we go with Kings Arise, our core values will always remain the same and that’s something that we refuse to give away,” he says.
“I am not merely a man, I am an educated black man, one who takes pride in his people and will leave a lineage of future kings to rise from my ashes when the lord graciously decides to take me home.”