Life's surprises are truly the best occurrences anyone could ever ask for. A few months ago, I informed you all about my good friend Grant Martin of the sensational Dover Street Market NY. One day as Grant finished giving me and my photographer Erick Hercules a personal tour of the exclusive shop, he introduced us to Delroy Smith. What I didn't expect is that our initial meeting would transform into a brotherhood of epic proportions.
What drew me to Delroy is his extremely tasteful fashion sense and equally radiant spirit. In this day and age (especially in New York), arrogance is expected when one is acquainted with a being who possess a 'larger than life' aura. I was pleasantly surprised by his comforting nature and positive attitude. Its as if we were long lost brothers in this world of perpetual false ego. In just one day after our introduction, we all began communicating on how we could join forces to potently share our respective gifts to the world. This is part 1.
The 5th Avenue Louis Vuitton store highest-grossed salesman's (sold over $2 million worth of items in his department last year) story is so inspirational that I've decided to let him tell it in his very own words. With that said, here is Delroy Smith....out the box.
My name is Delroy Smith and I am 25 years of age born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. As a child, I always fancied the idea of creating; sculpting, building, sketching, painting, poetry and even music. My mother always knew I had a gift. Therefore, she frequently planned trips to the museum, zoo and library so that we could always engage in activities that were constructive.
During my adolescent stage, I was constantly picked on by other students in my elementary and junior high school, and even though it seems cliché, that was the norm for me especially because I had to deal with my father's death in the 1st grade. I learned to defend myself, even if it meant being violent to the individual that threatened to do me harm. My younger siblings, Ethan and Tracey all went to the same elementary school as me because my mother always wanted us to stick together and taught us that friends can always lead us to the wrong path. Which is why she made sure to instill love, courage, faith, and the joy of sticking together as a family.
My mother and grandmother were my 2 best friends and sole providers growing up. They supplied me with relentless self-confidence to stand strong despite what anyone else thought. My grandmother always preached that "it doesn't matter who hates you, Jesus and I love you" and that stuck with me even up to this day. HS was a dilemma because during that period of time I was struggling with my identity. I wanted to fit in every popular clique but felt that I wasn't "cool" or had enough "swag". I had no interest in fashion, just trends. My mom accepted me but I wanted everyone to feel the very same. I thought wearing Jordan's would make my school peers accept me. Talking the way they do, dressing like them...cloning myself to what I thought HS society wanted every teenager to be. Interestingly enough, during my last 2 years of HS I became extremely popular due to the fact I learned to be comfortable with myself (but was still struggling with inner demons).
In college, I experimented with so many looks and made sure to stick out like a sore thumb. I kicked it up 10 notches not because I wanted attention but because I found my identity which was expressing my inner being through clothing. In my last two years of college, I was known as the kid that could "dress his ass off!" but remained humble through it all. My grandmother always said, "clothes do not make the man, its their morals and attributes." She instilled humility, kindness and always told me to appreciate every moment and to love everyone. Afore I mentioned that I was battling an inner demon....my sexuality. The fact that my mother and I have a great relationship, I needed to tell her. I also came out to many of my friends who fortunately still accepted me. Finally, I accepted myself and relinquished all of the negative forces that were in my head.
My grandmother passed away on December 22nd, 2013 and was saddened so deeply that I couldn't even function. I miss and love her so much. My grandmother as well as my mother played a big part in becoming who I am today. They accepted me for me. She would state "You can make a child, but not their heart and mind." Even today I can see her, everything around me reminds me of her beauty. My grandmother worked extremely hard raising 9 children, 21 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren! Her work ethic was unparalleled and that is why I don't complain. "You have it too good, what you see as complaint someone sees it as triumph. Never complain because there is someone out there in the world that has it worst than you."
On a more positive note, many people want to know about my style and what I think about when getting dressed. My motto is: everything goes! There are basically no boundaries. My closet consists of silk, leather, cotton, python, croc, beading, embroidery, bright colors, dark colors, plaid.....and the list goes on and on. I like things that are daring but also my taste, which isn't hard to find (it just has to grab me emotionally). My mom loves the way I dress so did my grandmother. Even though there were times she made fun of me, I knew it was from a loving place. I thoroughly enjoyed style and fashion from the moment I was working at the Flagship Abercrombie & Fitch. I then moved on to Flagship Tommy Hilfiger, and now Flagship Louis Vuitton.
I read up on other cultures because I like to incorporate international influences to my style which includes my own cultivation being that my mom is Suriname, father from Jamaica, grandmother from Guyana and her ancestors being Chinese. From turbans to wearing Chinese robes or embroidered garments from India to an event, being ashamed to do so never existed...just sheer excitement and anticipation of the expressions on people's faces! Pictures of my father before he passed away played a huge role in my style. People know me for the amount of gold rings that I wear and that's because my father wore so many of them.
In conclusion, I love being me and extremely excited for what the future holds. Many people stare at me day-to-day and sneak pics of me on the subway. Some even ask for permission to take a flick because they think I might say no but since I'm extremely humble and shy (ironically enough my clothes speaks volumes) I always say yes. My style varies. I'm still learning and growing as a Stylist and Designer so I continually do my research! I know that I have a strong look...so I own it. It took a long time to find my identity.....just imagine if I gave up and decided to just blend in? The Delroy Smith you know today would have been just a thought.
Photographed by Erick Hercules