At only 26 years of age, Brett Johnson is taking the fashion world by storm with a new line of Italian-made men’s apparel that will be showcased via trunk shows at Neiman Marcus stores around the country this fall.
That’s a major accomplishment for the Washington, DC- area native who studied sociology at Michigan State University and later worked at a Ferrari dealership in Utah.
“It still hasn’t really settled in with me yet,” Johnson told about the major placement opportunity with the luxury retail giant. “It’s still very surreal but I’m just pleased that the way my team has handled everything and put us in a really good position.”
“To launch at Neiman Marcus has truly been a dream of mine for some time and I think to have success very early on is great but for now, we just gotta work even harder,” he added.
The Brett Johnson Collection debuted commercially in 2013 with a line of upscale men’s shoes and apparel. The young designer, who didn’t attend any prestigious fashion institutions, is a self-taught visionary whose ardor for designing harkens back to being an adolescent during family trips to the Tuscan region of Italy.
“As a kid I was able to travel quite extensively so for whatever reason it was, I really gravitated towards Italy,” he said. “The culture and the atmosphere and architecture I think is second to none in the world.”
It was on trips to Italy—Florence to be exact—where Johnson was inspired to add special flairs to his Nike Air Force One sneakers when he was just a kid.
“I would source leathers and fabrics from all over the world and would take the shoes and fabrics up to a cobbler in New York City and have them apply them to the shoe,” he explained. “And that’s really when I started creating my own aesthetic and found a love and passion for fashion.”
And that’s when the business acumen—inherited from his parents—set in. He started selling them for $295. Johnson reportedly owns over 600 pairs of footwear and remembered how his Nike Air Force Ones would turn heads. “Every time I would be on the street wearing my shoes, I mean, I love the sense of individuality that I had and people would sort of gravitate towards the style that I was creating and I liked it,” he said.