Photo depicting a group of male-presenting creative artists standing outside the AISLE 4OUR showroom and studios.

Black-Owned ‘AISLE 4OUR’ Grand Opening to Feature Retail and Creative Studio Space in the South End

by Ronnie Estoque

Lamarr Thompson began making his own clothing back in 2006 when he was in high school. He says that at the time it wasn’t super fruitful, but by 2015 he started his own brand: “Quickstrike.” 

During the pandemic, Thompson, Toebyas Wilson of the clothing brand “requiem,” and other creatives, sought a physical location to centralize their brands, which they had been operating remotely up to that point. Their brainchild, AISLE 4OUR, a collective that has their own retail and creative space and photo studio located on Rainier Avenue, will celebrate its grand opening this Friday. Feb. 25, to Sunday, Feb. 27.

Photo depicting a group of male-presenting individuals standing in the green-lit cyclorama.
AISLE 4OUR is a new Black-owned retail and creative space on Rainier Avenue South. (Photo: Corey Springer)

A decade ago, Wilson discovered a passion for fashion and art while interning at a Capitol Hill clothing boutique called “Laced Up.” Through the shop, he also found community. 

“That’s what kind of cemented it for me to where I was like, oh, there’s actual culture. There’s a scene for this. There’s like a bridge between art and fashion and streetwear,” Wilson said.

Both Wilson and Thompson agree that AISLE 4OUR was born out of necessity, due to the lack of space for local creative artists of color in the area to both create art and sell their own products.

“There wasn’t any space like this before, where we can have creatives that come in,” Thompson said. “The lack of tools in the community was the biggest motivator to what we’re doing now.”

Wilson, Thompson, and other members of the AISLE 4OUR team came up with the idea during frequent gatherings they had to discuss their future creative goals. Thompson’s older cousin, Eugene, worked as their advisor. When they began their search for a location during the pandemic, they found two possible locations: one on Airport Way and the other Rainier Avenue.

“The Airport Way space was newer, more modern, and had a loft and a ginormous glass garage door. So it looked cool. Yeah, but … it wasn’t anywhere super accessible for people,” Thompson said.

They ultimately signed a lease at the Rainier Avenue building which started in November of 2020, and began a remodel of the space, which had been a church, with approval from the property owner. Creatives, photographers, videographers, and artists from all over the greater Seattle area were able to rent the creative and photo studio space for projects and meetings starting in March 2021. These rentals have provided AISLE 4OUR the financial capacity to lease out the adjacent building space specifically for retail sales.

Photo depicting a male-presenting individual setting up a camera tri-pod in a white cyclorama.
Outside of being a creative hub, AISLE 4OUR has ambitions to offer accessible media opportunities for youth and much more. (Photo: kanecolours)

Thompson has long-term goals for AISLE 4OUR, including an expansion into a warehouse space that would allow for more programming opportunities. “I want to get to where we can do more workshops and involve the youth in the community. I’m all for bettering or showing them other opportunities to work and grow and find themselves a better, faster way,” said Thompson. He also envisions a community center space that would feature various podcast stations and accessible media production for up-and-coming artists to utilize. 

“I think a vision that we all shared here was to really become a staple in this community,” said Wilson.

This Friday, Feb. 25, AISLE 4OUR’s retail grand opening will feature some of their latest products including five of their own in-house clothing brands such as 4ourStudios. On Saturday, they will utilize the creative space of their building for community gathering, to meet and connect with the public. 

“Expect a broad style of clothes availability, because our stuff is more tailored to the community than it is [to] an age group,” Thompson said.

On Sunday, they will continue the festivities and community-building with a clothing drive for youth navigating the legal system. Wilson says anyone who has extra clothes can bring them down to the space, 11427 Rainier Ave. S. “It’s going to a good cause.”

Ronnie Estoque is a South Seattle-based freelance photographer and videographer. You can keep up with his work by checking out his website.

📸 Featured Image: The AISLE 4OUR team will celebrate the store’s grand opening this weekend. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)

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