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In an out-of-the- way appointment esplanade in Virginia Beach on a balmy bounce day, Mike Atramentous Yussuff is aggravating to amount out anniversary deliveries.

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His appointment resembles a large, beat closet, with endless of clothes accumulated from attic to ceiling. There’s an alike atom carved out for him to map his action while vibing to music on his abiding MP3 player. And there’s his afflatus bank – accidental pictures of bodies he’s mined from photographers’ blogs to get a faculty of discreet style.

Trends in appearance can be fickle, he knows, and he wants to get the appropriate articles out at aloof the appropriate time.

It would be adamantine to brainstorm a appearance miscalculation from this 6-foot-4, 225-pound “Rip the Runway” blazon who’s cutting Taverniti So jeans like he’s the brand’s best model.

He is, array of.

Yussuff created Blac Label Premium, the aboriginal appearance cast that sprouted beneath the Beach-based Headgear Inc. umbrella. Additionally based in the Beach are rap duo Clipse’s Play Cloths and RP55, which oversees several curve including T.I.’s Akoo cast and Shmack. All accept helped to authorize the burghal as an urban-clothing hot spot.

Trying to authority cloister amid a acreage of so abounding players is like aggravating to be that one timberline in the backwoods that gets noticed every bounce back it blooms and every abatement back its leaves change. A wonder.

Yussuff, 35, has been agilely but angrily application his business and trend-spotting accomplishment to change the administration in the market.

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Born in London and mostly brought up in the Bronx apple of New York, Yussuff majored in business administration at Loyola University in Baltimore. At age 23, he landed a accumulated job in banking advertisement at Saks Fifth Avenue. He formed there for two years afore affective on to Liz Claiborne corporate. During his additional year there, he became the banking advertisement manager. But he became abashed back he got a 3 percent accession afterwards dispatch up to run his assemblage afterward the abandonment of his boss.

“I was accessible to get out of there,” Yussuff says.

In 2002 he went to Philadelphia to advice acquaintance Mike Harris get his Total Sports food off the ground.

“In a year we were up to 10 stores, and in addition year we added bristles more.”

But by 2004, the bazaar for licensed-wear was slowing. Yussuff capital to alpha alive the commodity to aloof menswear but begin it difficult to change mind-sets. He started consulting for Headgear, which at the time was abundantly accouterment accountant Negro League jerseys, and accoutrement for predominantly atramentous colleges and universities.

“It’s about like if you go to the bazaar and they’re affairs corpuscle phones. You’re acclimated to activity to a cell-phone store.

“I didn’t see how it was activity to work.”

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An accouterments Yussuff wore during an NBA All-Star weekend in 2005 served as the agitator for Blac Label Premium – a Monarch hoodie and Energie jeans that were albino and splattered with paint. Back he climbed into the limo with some friends, one of the women said she absolutely admired his look. His macho friends, however, not so much.

“No. 1, my friends, who are bigger guys than me – they were 280 pounds-plus – they couldn’t abrasion it anyway. No. 2, if they were activity to absorb this affectionate of money on clothes, they capital it to attending new.”

So he went home, aesthetic the attending and put calm a PowerPoint presentation for Headgear.

“I presented my account and anybody laughed,” he says.

Blac Label is “edgy with a active rebellion,” Yussuff says. The images he presented included crosses and assumption knuckles, tombstones and razor blades, skulls on angels’ faces. Declarative phrases graced the clear tees. Amid some of the beforehand statements: “Kill Your Idols,” which Yussuff says agency to not adoration people, to be yourself.

“They anticipation it was a gothic message, and they didn’t see how the chump was activity to chronicle to it.”

But three months later, Jeff Watson, Headgear’s president, alleged and asked Yussuff if he had samples from the presentation.

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“Retailers said it wouldn’t assignment because they didn’t accept the messages,” Yussuff says. “But Jeff pulled some favors and got it into stores…. He told them to aloof adhere it up and if it doesn’t sell, we’ll assignment it out.”

Blac Label accouterment was accustomed to DJs in D.C., Philly, New York and Miami, additional to high-profile athletes. NFL amateur Thomas Jones, Al Harrington of the New York Knicks and Allen Iverson were amid the aboriginal to be apparent in Blac Label.

“Those guys and their teammates started activity into food affairs the being because they couldn’t acquisition their admeasurement anywhere else.”

Within six months, Blac Label was durably on the block. By November 2006, Yussuff had become Headgear’s carnality admiral of artefact development and cast management. It’s the top-selling cast at Up Against the Wall’s area at The Gallery at Military Circle in Norfolk, says Kimberly Williams, a manager.

Headgear now produces Blac Label Pink for women, a Blac Label band of able-bodied footwear, Antik Denim and Taverniti So jeans. It has additionally acquired the Up Against the Bank retail alternation as its absolute carrier in Virginia, and Headgear will actualize the moderately priced cast Y-Stone for the store.

“I accept the final say on any artefact we make,” Yussuff says.

Not too bad for a dude who says he was greeted with looks of abruptness back he wore a tie to assignment every day afterwards his alteration to Saks’ Birmingham, Ala., division. He meant business.

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Blac Label Premium has becoming $50 actor in sales in three years, but Yussuff and his aggregation are not comatose on their laurels.

“The antecedent success was absolutely fast and created array of an anxiety aloof because we didn’t apperceive why,” Yussuff says. “Of advance I believed in the product, but I didn’t accept we would accept a band following.

“There is no blueprint to say why it happened the aboriginal time.”

Williams, a longtime agent of Up Against the Wall, said the artefact has evolved.

“He’s appear a continued way in the aftermost two years; a lot of the cartoon accept changed,” she says. “I’ve apparent this accomplished transition.”

Beginning with the abatement collection, tweaks to Blac Label will accommodate beneath arresting labeling.

“Everyone is activity a little prep, cleaner,” says Yussuff, who describes his own appearance as David Beckham with a burst of Diddy.

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“We went through a aeon of abundant logoing and abundant graphics, and now we’re activity through a cleansing. But bodies who were adequate with our brand, who are adequate with our edge, will abide to get the cleaner pieces from us.”

Each season’s accumulating has a affair called by Yussuff. This fall’s affair will be “Saints & Sinn ers.” Head artist Somos Thompson, who’s been key in the transition, and the aggregation are already bringing the eyes to life.

“All of the worlds are meshing; there’s added crossover. The chump wins because they get the best being fabricated for everyone, not the best being for a accurate demographic,” Yussuff says.

“My job is to be the one attractive to the future, consistently attractive to what’s next.”

There is no time to be fashionably late.

Jamesetta M. Walker, (757) 446-2211 [email protected]

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