Fashion

Meet Keith Brown, the Under-the-Radar Fashion Designer You Should Know

Menswear and womenswear designer Keith Brown is breaking barriers one well-crafted piece at a time-and the Manila-based creative is ready to step into the spotlight.
IMAGE MELISSA ALEXANDER, DERRICK LIM
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The cool industrial-style door to Keith “Kebo” Brown’s apartment-slash-studio located on the 15th floor of a nondescript Makati building is indicative of the kind of individual who inhabits the four walls beyond it: creative and utterly unique. Stepping into Brown’s apartment is a refreshing change from the banal, taupe surroundings of the floor’s corridors.

Brown and his wife have been living in this hip apartment since February but they had previously lived in Manila from 2010-2013, before moving to Geneva. He says this apartment is only temporary, for they are moving into a house next year. Inside the abode, one is greeted by gray monochrome walls, cozy low furniture, and a jumpy French bulldog, making for an atmosphere that stimulates his creativity. 

Brown recalls and appreciates his childhood in Texas, a time and place that stimulated his creative juices. “I’ve always been creative. I grew up in a place where your creativity was not something that made you different. I am very fortunate because my differences were presented as a uniqueness.”

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Even as a child, Brown wasn’t afraid to dress as he pleased, often gravitating towards colorful prints—a trademark of his fashion designs today. He graduated from design school and eventually landed jobs in Marithe Francois Girbaud and Esprit de Corp, brands that taught him the ropes of the business side of fashion.

If his clothes (and his fun hairdo) aren’t enough to make him stand out from the crowd, there are the stellar business skills he has strengthened over the course of his career; however, we reckon that Brown’s entrepreneurship is something innate. He has a preternatural talent for sensing opportunities and responding to them acutely. And that applies to anything, not just fashion.

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Photo by DERRICK LIM.
Photo by DERRICK LIM.

Brown fondly shares the story of the time he was a “cultural influencer” in his community. Hush Box was a newsletter he created when he had recognized the need to present the community’s coolest happenings at a glance. What was first an email sent to a couple of people grew into a full-fledged website. His knack for curating experiences is the essence of all the hats he wears.

“As an adult when I look back, I was engaging an audience. This helped me transition to be a business professional. It is one thing to be a creative and extremely talented and it's another thing to make a living out of your creativity. I figured that out early at age 17 and 18. I knew I wanted to make a career out of the creative space. What was I good at? I was good at furniture making, interior design, putting things together on me, and engaging things on people that they already have.”

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True enough, Brown’s designs engage audiences who have a taste for the eccentric and the finer things in life (his clothes are of top-notch quality). His brand offers ready-to-wear, custom-made, and bespoke services. Interested customers or studio visitors will definitely find something that will pique their interest for his clothes have a whimsical charm to them.

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Photo by DERRICK LIM.

Photo by DERRICK LIM.

This quality can be credited to, first, the craftsmanship that goes into each piece, and second, the unique printed fabrics he sources from countries including the Philippines, Africa, and France. One such fabric would be the African wax fabric he uses on some of his button-down menswear designs and some women’s clothing as well. 

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To get the ball rolling, there’s the bestselling three-fourths sleeve jacket in a decadent red floral print which has stolen the hearts of women the world over. It looks like it was transported right from the ‘60s, or perhaps Jackie Kennedy’s closet. Plus, the design’s proportions are so well thought of, that anyone of any height and shape would look smashing in it.

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Photo by KEITH A. BROWN DESIGNS.

There is also the ‘Mindanao Peter Pan Sack Dress’ made of T’nalak fabric from Southern Mindanao. The stiff fabric makes it seem sculptural, but the curves lend a soft quality to it—and those cap sleeves just topped it off perfectly.

Photo by KEITH A. BROWN DESIGNS.

Another piece that’s worth mentioning is the ‘70s-inspired maxi dress in buttery soft Indian cotton. Its wrap dress appeal makes it perfect for both formal and informal occasions. Brown always keeps our tropical climate in mind, so all pieces are breathable and comfortable.

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As for his menswear pieces, Brown loves to pair different prints that other people would never have thought of putting together. Each button-down shirt or tailored dinner jacket is so well-made, that the combination of the piece’s formality and the crazy colors make for a keepsake item. You’ll never find anything like it.

Keith Brown’s interesting story, his eye for fabrics, and his uncanny capability of crafting beautiful things make him the hot new designer to watch. He’s simply waiting for his curtain call.

Shop Keith Brown's designs at keithabrowndesigns.com. Follow him on Instagram @kebo_1

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