Oct 8, 2013
07:40 PM
Style & Design

Hip Young Style Venture at Center of iConnect Hartford Launch Party Friday

Hip Young Style Venture at Center of iConnect Hartford Launch Party Friday

Rapper Wiz Khalifa wearing an Urban Natured shirt on stage in Amsterdam

Models will promenade on the streets of downtown Hartford Friday, clad in the grunge-punk inspired garb of Urban Natured, an up-and-coming clothing line based in Hartford.

Between 20 and 30 people will don limited edition “We are the city” T-shirts and mingle in the crowd at the launch of iConnect Hartford—an initiative that “re-imagines retail space and capitalizes on Hartford’s creative and commercial talents”—on Pratt and Trumbull streets from 5 to 10 p.m.

“Instead of doing typical fashion show, it will be more like random people,” said Brand Manager Steven Gonzalez Marin.

Urban Natured was launched in 2011, but really got off the ground this past spring when the company put together its first collection, called Trouble2013, complete with a marketing program and a fashion staple called a lookbook. It’s the brainchild of Jerlyn Cespedes, a 20-year-old Hartford native. Today, the brand is managed by a five-person team, the oldest of whom is only 23.

While founded and based in Hartford, Urban Natured is a strictly online venture.

Gonzalez Marin, 21, said, “That’s due to the fact that when we launched we weren’t going to market ourselves as a local brand, we market ourselves as international. Before we received any sales locally, we had sales nationally.”

Within the U.S., the brand is popular in California and New York. They have shipped shirts to Australia, Japan, Malaysia and across Europe.

Last Friday, famed rapper Wiz Khalifa was photographed wearing an Urban Natured shirt on stage in Amsterdam.

“The great part about that is someone at concert took a photo and tagged us. It’s pretty amazing that people recognize that’s Urban Natured,” said Gonzalez Marin.  

The brand will come home at the official launch party of iConnect Hartford, a creative storefront initiative developed by the Marketing, Events and Cultural Affairs Division (MECA) of the city’s Department of Development Services.

Hartford Prints!, a letterpress studio and gift shop owned by the Gale sisters—Addy, Rory and Callie, all born and bred in Hartford—is the first of four businesses selected by the campaign to move into a storefront, this one at 42 ½ Pratt St.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra will be at the event Friday for a ribbon cutting at 5 p.m. to officially open the business.

“We thought in five years maybe we would open a shop, but in first year we’re able to open a retail location,” Rory Gale said.

That was the goal of iConnect Hartford. According to Kristina Newman-Scott, the MECA director who came up with the program, “The purpose was to call out to creative entrepreneurs and ask, essentially, would they be interested in opening businesses in downtown?”

Hartford Prints! will be celebrated at the event and the next business in the queue, Naturally Dogs and Cats, will be showcasing and selling some of its products.

Other festivities will include live music by DJ Joey Franchize, a silent auction of John Lennon prints curated by National Exhibitions and Archives, pop-up shopping, a performance by the dance troupe Shinobi, who will also wear the Urban Natured T-shirt, and a lighting installation by LAMP New Haven.

The event is the definition of active programming to promote local business within, “the IConnect footprint,” said Newman-Scott.

“We want feet on the street action as opposed to block party … .This is a party for retail,” said Newman-Scott. “We want to invite people to come outside and walk around and celebrate the city.”

For more info on iConnect Hartford visit hartford.gov/meca/iconnect-hartford.

For Hartford Prints! visit hartfordprints.com and for Urban Natured visit urbannatured.com.


Hip Young Style Venture at Center of iConnect Hartford Launch Party Friday

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