Brooklyn Parle Français: Behind the Transatlantic Fashion Line

Photo: Ludovic Zuili

David Obadia and Nelson Hassan's streetwear line, Brooklyn We Go Hard, wears its borough loyalty on its sleeve. Named after a Jay Z song, BWGH was initially founded by the two Parisian buddies as a T-shirt line, with each piece featuring a snapshot by a Brooklyn-based photographer. Since then, it's expanded into a full collection and the duo has collaborated with Puma, Opening Ceremony, and Colette. Perhaps their best-known piece is an oversize sweatshirt that spells out "Brooklyn Parle Français" in fuzzy letterman-sweater style. (Kid Cudi has been spotted wearing it.) "We wanted to make it O.G., back in the day style," says Obadia, so they decided, "let’s use chenille. The whole idea for the sentence came by just using the links between America and France."

"We have a lot of friends who used to live in Paris, and now live in Brooklyn," explains Obadia. "We just like the lifestyle and everything related to the fashion scene. We are fans of Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger; they are role models for us. When you’re from Paris, you want to go elsewhere, and America is like the golden door for everybody." Obadia's favorite neighborhood is Dumbo, and he loves to visit the Brooklyn Navy Yard, though he was unaware a recent Dior show had transpired there. He's also a fan of New York's openness toward collaboration. "In France it’s not the same thing. You have a brand so you have to hate all the other guys who have a brand. In the U.S., it’s like: You have a cool thing, let’s have a collaboration, let’s work together."

Photo: courtesy photo

So Parisians are dreaming of the Williamsburg waterfront and Park Slopers are devouring macarons and Bringing Up Bébé; Obadia is aware there's a grass-is-greener effect happening here. "When you’re in Paris, you want to live in New York, and when you’re in New York, you want to live in Paris," he says. He was considering buying an apartment, but, "New York seems to be ten times more expensive than Paris." That said, he admits he's got his eye on a totally different metropolis lately: "London, to me, is the most creative city right now."