In this exclusive interview, we delve into the creative universe of actor and artist Brett Gray, who is set to make waves in the fashion industry with the launch of his clothing line, STARBORN, out now. Known for his compelling performances in acclaimed series like “On My Block” and “When They See Us,” Gray takes us behind the scenes of STARBORN, offering insights into the inspiration, creative process, and the profound message embedded within each piece.

What role did your personal style play in shaping the aesthetics of the clothing line, and how would you describe the overall vibe of STARBORN?

I want to make sure everything I make is stuff I’d wear and stuff I’d think is fire if I just saw it walking down the street and didn’t know what it was. I want to keep pulling from my silhouette to make pieces that feel like me. My people know me for wearing sweaters, cool denim, and cool accessories and things too, so I want to expand into those in the future. The overall vibe of STARBORN is chill, fly, and comfortable. I’m just at the beginning so starting with some essentials but going to expand on the starborn universe. Chill, comfy, fly items, and understated statement pieces.

In terms of collaboration, did you work closely with a design team, or did you take a hands-on approach throughout the creative process? 

This time around I pretty much arranged it myself. I’d worked with teams before and just always ended up losing myself in the ideas and visions of others. This time, I collaborated with my friend/designer Jacob Ayers and we had a long talk about where I was at in life and what I was feeling at the time. I told him about how I was feeling stuck and unseen and I just wanted to get back to that part of me that was fearless and not afraid to show my light, and he came up with this incredible first design concept. From there I wore it for like almost a year just in my everyday life and I would get stopped and complimented and asked who the face on it was what the number on the back was for or if they had them in pink *laughs*. I wouldn’t even tell people it was my merch.

How does your experience as an actor influence your perspective on fashion, and do you see any parallels between the two creative realms?

I love this question because I think actors get the reputation of “well what do you know about fashion” sometimes. I think the influence of actors is a bit more nuanced than a rapper or supermodel or social media star, so I feel like people get confused. To me though, actors are chameleons. We slip into and out of costume all the time and are transformation experts. As an actor, if I put on a big purple hat with a feather sticking out, it immediately changes the way I move, the way I feel, and even maybe how I talk. If I compare that to putting on a pair of timbs and some baggy denim, it’s a completely different feeling and character I could become. I want that for my people. I want to be able to make stuff that can change the way they feel in a moment. They can put it on and feel dope! Walk around with that pep in their step and their head held high, even if they’re just walking to the corner store like yeah wassup I’m fly and I’m chillin’ say something.

What message or legacy do you hope to leave through STARBORN, both as a brand and as an extension of your creative identity?

I hope it can remind my people not to hold back and not to apologize for authenticity even when it’s not being appreciated. I hope it can be a reminder to embrace all the parts of yourself and to take ownership of your past and present and let it fuel your next steps. And to celebrate the whole process.

How do you see STARBORN evolving, and are there any specific directions or themes you envision exploring in future collections?

I see this as becoming an homage to my whole journey, I see it including Easter eggs from all my projects, marking moments in time that I can encapsulate in an item you can touch and feel and wear, and another way to express my story. I’d love to look back on it and go ok yeah this was around that time and this was what was going on and this was the look for that.

As a public figure, how do you manage the pressure or expectations that come with launching a fashion line, and what keeps you grounded in the process?

Ehhh, I don’t really care too much about that. I’m not really in it to make money or prove sales or cultural impact or have all the cool people rocking it. I’d love to get to those things in the future, but to be honest, right now I’m just expressing myself, having fun, and trying actually to connect with the people in my sphere. If I’m giving one person that feeling I’m trying to create, AND I like it myself and feel like it represents me, then that’s a win. And I’ll go one person at a time if I have to.
Photos by Sunny Payton @sun_vzn