Brooklyn Industries used Rockaways wreckage for fashion

We're so pretty oh so pretty

We’re so pretty oh so pretty

[UPDATE: 4/25: Brooklyn Industries' CEO and co-founder weighs in in the comments below] Hey, remember the Vogue fashion shoot that put models in $40,000 dresses next to first responders who actually, y’know, helped the city recover from the storm? And how it felt kind of icky? Surely no one would be so shortsighted as to make that mistake again, right? Clearly we’ve underestimated the amount of people that look at a destroyed and still recovering neighborhood and think “Man, how like, artistic,” proven today by Brooklyn Industries using the Rockaways as a backdrop for their summer fashion line.

Go and check it out for yourself. Maybe this and the “Rockaway Cotton Slub Pullover” would be less offensive if it weren’t for the fact that as Gothamist found out,  none of the profits from the shirt are going towards Rockaways relief. Oh, and if the look book didn’t contain the sentence “the majority of Brooklyn outside of Redhook and Coney Island was spared from the destruction from Hurricane Sandy.” Seriously? We imagine that Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead Bay and Bay Ridge would like a word about that one. Also not to be copy editing Nazis, but: Redhook?

When Gothamist asked Brooklyn Industries about the photo shoot and the shirt not benefitting the beach community, they replied with a long spiel about how they organized a supply drive this one time and that this wasn’t so much “using” a place still picking up the pieces, it was “celebrating” it. Oh, OK, in that case, party on guys.

18 Comment

  • One of the (many) reasons why I love Brokelyn is for the copy-editing Nazis among the writers. Keep on correctin’ on.

  • …however, writing this up on brokelyn.com to thousands of readers is much better advertising and attention than they would have received on their own. looks like their plan worked (if this was indeed a plan). thanks for giving them more free press, brokelyn!

    • You don’t have to buy the derned thing just cuz you read about it, you know.

      • I’m not, but it has nothing to do with me. It’s all about exposure, Tim. It’s such an “offensive” thing to do, as Brokelyn is pointing out, yet they’re giving them free advertising. Which is just helping B.I. There’s a saying; there is no such thing as bad press. Well, here you go. But, they’re celebrating the space, so this writer should be commended for spreading the good deeds of B.I. as the company has replied. Party on!

    • Bad press does NOT always mean good press. I’m the type who believes you vote with your dollar and act accordingly whenever possible – clothing is the easiest thing for me to be discerning with my dollar, and I have spent around $250 at Brooklyn Industries over past years. I won’t be visiting them again.

  • I am from Rockaway and the pictures are just reminding everyone of the sh!t they went through and continue to go through. Thumbs you to you guys and thumbs down to Brooklyn Industries.

  • Most Rockaway folks are too broke from putting their houses/lives back together to pay $68 for a hoodie.

    This lookbook is thoughtless. Frolicking amongs the ruins of the boardwalk while residents mourn not their fun memories on it, but the protection it provided? People here are afraid – every storm that came through this winter, they were praying.

    And why DID they ignore the Brooklyn neighborhoods who are still suffering? Oh, because they don’t have the hipster cache we do.

  • I’m Brooklyn born-n-bred and my family had to evacuate from Gerritsen Beach that night so I’m glad you’re sharing this story.

    I hope the word spreads because while the photo shoot might just be a lack of judgment naming a product after Rockaway and not sharing any profits is exploitive and disgusting.

  • I really don’t see what is so egregious about this. It’s not like they’re standing in front of demolished houses. The Rockaways still remains NYC’s beachiest location, so I think it’s a perfectly reasonable decision to shoot a summer look book there. There are vastly more offensive instances of companies taking advantage of communities out there you could be reporting on, rather than hyping up this ‘conflict’ to draw more attention to your post.

  • As the CEO and Co-founder of Brooklyn Industries, I would like to add a couple of comments. We chose to shoot our summer campaign in the Far Rockaway not to exploit the local community or to seek profit from Sandy. For the last 5 years, we have come to this beach as it is beautiful, close, and within New York City. We cannot afford to fly to far-away places like companies such as JCrew. Further, we believe, that we can bring attention to the neighborhoods that we shoot in and create something positive. So what can we do for the Rockaways as a clothing company? This is a great question. We cannot certainly influence Fema or government spending but perhaps we can do more? As to the profit motive, this is far from the truth. Sandy directly impacted us as a company. 4 of our stores were closed for over a week, our offices were without heat for almost a month. We lost over a week’s worth of revenue which meant that we had a loss for the year. Despite our large presence in New York, we are a small company and really exposed to a natural disaster such as Sandy. If we can put the hipster narrative aside, perhaps we can all work together to do and say something positive. As I truly believe healthy positive communities can overcome countless disasters. Please email me your thoughts and comments directly to lexy.funk@brooklynindustries.com.

    • Glad to hear from you on the site, Lexy. But with all due respect, I don’t think that laying out your company’s losses from Sandy (which sound substantial, but also remember some businesses closed permanently, and not just four locations) does anything to detract from the accusations of profit motives. I think the problem here, as exemplified in your response, is that Brooklyn Industries seems a little wrapped up in the world of Brooklyn Industries, without a lot of regard for the community it calls home.

    • Thanks for reading Brokelyn and commenting. I’m going to stay out of the Far Rockaway fray, because I can’t seem to muster strong feelings about this. However, it would be really awesome if Brooklyn Industries didn’t make any more Brokelyn t-shirts. But if anyone wants to buy one of ours, for the next week we’ll donate ALL proceeds (minus shipping) to Far Rockaway: http://brokelyn.myshopify.com/

    • What? You can’t effect change with FEMA or gov’t spending? Good! You’re not in the business of disaster relief and you probably wouldn’t do a very good job. You ARE in the business of producing a shirt named after a neighborhood that was nearly completely destroyed by the storm, where 4, 5, 6 months later up to 1/5th of residents cannot return home because their homes are destroyed. Since you cannot take back the poor decision to do the photo shoot here, either pull the name of your shirt and change THAT or donate proceeds from items named after a neighborhood in trauma TO that neighborhood. I’m sorry you lost a week of revenue. Many lost their entire businesses, their homes, and some lost their lives.

      Oh. And to whoever said the shoot was “just” at the beach and not in front of damaged homes must not know anyone from Rockaway. That beach is home to Rockaway residents. It’s why they’ve called Rockaway home, and some residents have spent their whole lives protecting it, defending it, improving it, enjoying it. Rockaway is not, particularly today, “just” a beach.

      Terri Bennett

  • People need to get off their high horses. The complaints I’ve seen are along these lines: “Other business/people were MORE impacted by Sandy than Brooklyn Industries, so they can’t use Rockaway beach” / “They didn’t give ENOUGH to the relief efforts.” Seriously? So this suddenly becomes people trying to one up each other over who had more storm damage? They used a beach in the community. Their description on the look book was fairly tastefully done. Immediately following Sandy, they helped as they could with relief efforts. What do you people want from them? You’d probably have published some asinine story about them if they had shot their look book in the Hamptons claiming they were being snooty for shooting outside of Brooklyn in a well-off area.

    Moral of the story: people like to complain.

    • To be fair, I’d complain about that too, but not because of a class issue. I just think the Hamptons are boring and for nouveau rich jerks.

      Moral of the story: I have serious issues with wealth distribution in America

  • Whatever small businesses are left there will need this publicity don’t you think? Rockaway needs people to visit. Go brooklyn Industries for encouraging people to visit rockaway beach and spend money at the local businesses there.

    & Who doesn’t take pictures visiting Rockaway beach? Business or tourist it’s fine. Some of my favourite moments with friends are captured there.

  • Their failed attempt at publicity has once again made them look desperate and pitiful. When a company is not producing clothing worthy of attention a company must result to shocking visuals to garner attention. For a CEO to comment about having to close down a few stores for a couple of days is a misguiding attempt to play a sympathy card that nobody is buying. Guess what, we are not buying your response or your clothes. Cheaply made clothes with a lack of original design and stupid campaigns don’t make a cool Brooklyn brand

  • So much crying. It’s time we overcome and move on.