Words by Jesse Serwer, Portraits by Martei Korley —
For 10 years, RockersNYC has been one of the most forward-thinking and consistently innovative streetwear brands. With a direction inspired as much by the SoCal hardcore punk scene of the early 1980s as the Rasta iconography of Ras Daniel Hartman and the darker side of ’70s roots reggae—not to mention speed metal, hip-hop and British post-punk—the Rockers aesthetic is the result of the unique upbringing of Kingston-born, NY-based visual artist Marcus Burrowes. In fact, you could say the whole Afropunk movement got its aesthetic footing the day he and former partner Sean Reveron printed up their first tees. The LargeUp crew and Marcus have a long history so, when we decided to produce our first T-shirt design, there was no question who we wanted to execute it. We recently sat down with Marcus for a quick conversation on his inspirations and the evolution of the RockersNYC brand.
LargeUp: Introduce yourself for those who don’t know you, and give us a little overview of your background…
Marcus Burrowes: I am a founder and the creative director of RockersNYC. I was born in Kingston but grew up traveling a lot between New York, [Washington] D.C [and] Venice/Santa Monica. I lived in New York longer than anywhere else, though.
LU: You grew up in a Rastafarian household. How did punk rock become such an influence for you?
MB: It has a lot to do with timing but I actually think that me growing up a Rasta helped me to gravitate to punk rock, believe it or not. At that time you were not cool in the regular African-American community if you didn’t have some sort of Jheri curl or finger wave ,so being a young kid with locks made me automatically bond more with outsider culture. Bands like The Clash/Specials covered songs that I already loved. Plus growing up the way I did, it just seemed like another form of rebel music/culture for me… and I can’t leave out Bad Brains!
LU: Who were your style heroes growing up?
MB: Supercat, Dr. Alimantado, Slick Rick, Hugh Mundell, Paul Simonon, Joey Ramone.
LU: How did Rockers NYC start?
MB: It was very DIY. At the time, I was doing freelance design for magazines but I wanted to do something more creative, and I always loved the artistic side of fashion. I knew a couple people in the streetwear industry and they bought a few of my designs.
Continue here for Part 2.
Popcaan wears the LargeUp x RockersNYC “Jamaica” tee