On my visit to Club Duquette Friday, I thought back to the first time I stepped foot in the store. It was back in August and they were hosting their own kickoff party for the Southern Makers festival – a two day event that showcases creativity from local designers and artists. And even though the crowd that attended wasn’t present, the atmosphere was still as laid back as it was that night.
But as soon as I walked in, I witnessed the passion that runs behind this amazing little shop. Duquette was in the process of setting up a label printer (since they recently launched e-commerce for the store), while Morgan worked with Alan Slattery on the collection of leather goods they do with him. Yet they weren’t too busy to speak with me while they worked and because Magic City Fashion Week is about the representing the magic in Birmingham, my first question was…
What magic do you bring to Birmingham?
Morgan: I believe everyone has their own vibe of magic. And as soon as you tap into it, you’re [living] true.
Duq: It’s Morgan and I. It’s our life. It’s what we believe in. It’s us [and] an extension of what we do.
Aside from your personal interests, what was the inspiration behind Club Duquette?
Duq: We wanted to open something because we were always leaving Birmingham and were tired of sending everyone out of state for styling services. So, we wanted to create that space where you could come in and find quality pieces.
How does it feel to be the exclusive retailer of Levi’s Premium in Alabama?
Duq: Good because a lot of people don’t understand that there’s different tiers of Levis. I grew up where my father only wore Levis and I’ve never seen him in a pair of shorts in my life. I toured for years in 501s or 517s and white tees that I would buy in bulk bags and wear them until I couldn’t anymore. I only have one pair of jeans that aren’t Levis and they were given to me. We’re big believers in quality over quantity and it gives us a chance to do that.
Why is supporting the arts in our community so important?
Duq: Having been in Birmingham for 26 years, I’ve been involved in the arts community. I’ve watched most of the schools in the community pull their funding, [so] it’s important to show them it gives you so many outlets. Like music – it teaches you math, and a lot of people don’t realize how important that is. [Also], music breaks down barriers and I love that. So, we feel like it’s important to be good stewards with what we’ve been gifted and blessed to do. And since she’s a painted and I’m a musician, that’s how we give back.
What was the determining factor for you to become a sponsor of Magic City Fashion Week?
Duq: We didn’t think twice about it. They e-mailed us and we said, “Let’s do it!” I love that it’s connected to Birmingham AIDS Outreach and it’s other people out there that are trying to make it happen and people that are connected to the fashion world that are trying to teach about quality over quantity. I also wanted to help sponsor because it’s better than giving my money to something corporate like Facebook [for marketing] that I don’t need to give my money to.
Why do you think Birmingham needs Magic City Fashion Week?
Morgan: Other people have lacked diversity and MCFW brings that and incorporates some of the street style because street style has influenced everything! And it really is an opportunity for people hustling their art to expose themselves and network because collaboration can spark so many new things.
Other than your partnership with Levis, what can people expect from you in the future?
Duq: We have graphic tees, palo santo bundles, bandanas, and a purse Morgan designed that we launched in e-commerce. Next up will be the jewelry and even more accessories.
Morgan: We do a collection of leather goods with Alan Slattery. He was the emerging designer of Birmingham Fashion Week last year. We have a jewelry maker to do some custom rings for us of Maker & Smith. And there are always new vintage items from around the world that we customize. It’s stuff we can use in life, something we can stand behind, and something you can believe in.
And it is for that reason that I believe this mom-and-pop shop will be around for years to come. Their outlook on life – as well their dedication and passion for their community – is just what Birmingham needs and something we can all learn from.
Article by Freddie G. of The Freddie Diaries
@thefreddiediaries on IG.