When Colin Kaepernick partook in his recent GQ magazine “Citizen of the Year” photo shoot, he would only be-still our hearts under one condition.

Kaep’s stylist Rachel Johnson told Refinery29 the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback wanted to feature the work of Black and/or female designers.

“He wanted to give an opportunity for designers to be featured in the magazine who wouldn’t normally be, especially for a cover shoot of this magnitude,” she told the publication. “That was was the direction that he gave to [GQ’s creative director] Jim Moore and I.”

“There are not a huge pool of Black designers to choose from honestly, you know, it didn’t take very long to put our list together,” Johnson continued.“I reached out who I knew, they reached out to who they knew, and we all did research as well to see if there were other designers who weren’t on either team’s radar.”

One of the designers Harlem Haberdashery was even based in Harlem where the shoot take place. The couple who owns the store was responsible for creating the leather blazer he wore in one of the photos.


“I love the fact that it’s all black clothing, I think that’s powerful,” Shay Wood, who co-owns the Harlem-based store with her husband Guy, tells Refinery29. “I knew we were doing a leather blazer but I didn’t realize the impact of the image until I saw him in it and I was like wow, that’s such a black panther statement. I love the collaborative effort [between the stylist, GQ, and Kaepernick], he was making more than a fashion statement, it’s a political statement.”

“It was amazing how it all came together. It feels surreal. I’m proud of how it’s being received,” Johnson said. “I’m thrilled we were able to feature designers who would have never gotten this look before. There were designers [that] when I told them they made the book, they cried over the phone. I’m like damn, I guess I should go buy [the magazine] right now and actually look at it.”