If you've ever wondered who's behind the ballin' outfits of some of the most stylish athletes and entertainers in the game, then you need to check out Erinnicole Goodwin, the founder and chief designer of It's Goode Clothing. The Oakland-based creative is the mastermind behind the eye-catching, bold outfits of Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers (aka DAME D.O.L.L.A.), DeMar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls and Matisse Thybulle of the Philadelphia 76ers, and has designed pieces for Steph Curry, Dwight Howard, Aaron Judge, Stevie Wonder, Mara Brock Akil, amongst others as well.
She's the go-to if you want a one-of kind fit that will break the 'net. Case in point: Damian Lillard's pearlized blush-colored silk organza ensemble (worn sans shirt) that he sported during the reception portion of his recent wedding festivities to longtime love Kay'La Marie Hanson Lillard.
Goodwin's custom atelier creations begin at $2000, and go up depending on design details and fabrication, while her unisex streetwear range It's Goode features cool basics, such as boxy-fit T-shirts with empowering messaging, classic athletic shorts and sweatpants, plus snapbacks and beanies at a more accessible price offering of $45 to $300.
Below EBONY caught up with the 28-year old design visionary and stylist and got the lowdown on the evolution of her design business, the joy of collaborating with her clients, and what we should expect from her next.
EBONY: Tell us about your journey. How did you get into fashion? Did you always want to be a designer?
Erinnicole Goodwin: I’ve always loved fashion. I believe that clothing is a universal language that connects everyone. Through the garments we wear, we are able to introduce ourselves and tell our stories to the world without ever having to say a word. From a young age, I can remember studying the fashion choices of the people around me—whether it was my mother, a stylish churchgoer, a model on the cover of a magazine, Allen Iverson on the basketball court or even watching my father wear Nike sweatsuits and Air Force Ones—there was always something to be learned from the ways people put clothes together. That fascination inspired me to begin sketching my own ideas and ultimately pursuing a career as a designer. I eventually followed my dreams to Los Angeles where I studied Apparel Industry Management at FIDM. There I learned every aspect of the industry inside and out. After graduating, I worked as an intern and then design assistant at a custom atelier. After gaining real life experience in the industry, I branched out and created my own company It’s Goode Clothing.
Please describe your design aesthetic.
My aesthetic is a combination of my love of both streetwear and high fashion. It allows me to have an edge. That coupled with my experience growing up in Oakland and seeing the fusion of multiple cultures allows me to have a perspective that is uniquely my own. I love mixing things that don’t belong together and turning them into masterpieces. Whether that be playing with textures, experimenting with contrasting colors or mixing pearls with tattoos, I’m always ready to push the envelope for the sake of creativity and fashion.
What's your creative process like?
I'm inspired by everything. I love venturing into the world and seeing what speaks to me. I enjoy visiting museums and aquariums for inspiration. I'm also inspired by music and movies. Once an idea resonates with me I obsess over it. I deep dive into researching the history behind it and then begin to brainstorm ways to make it my own.
For example, I may see a jellyfish at an aquarium and be inspired by its color and movement. From there, I’ll learn as much as I can about it. Then I’ll go to the fabric store and look for something that provokes a similar feeling or that displays similar attributes. Once I’ve found the perfect fabric, I’ll sketch the concept into a garment and bring it to life.
What are some of the challenges that you've faced as a designer?
As a young Black female designer, I feel that I’ve frequently been underestimated. People often mistake one’s youth for a lack of experience and ability. Conversely, having started at such a young age has afforded me the opportunity to be in rooms with highly skilled veteran designers and allowed me to learn from some of the best in my field. I’ve taken the wisdom I’ve acquired and applied it throughout my career. Beyond my youth, many people question my ability to understand menswear as a female. Although I’ve been underestimated, my work always speaks for itself. The same people who’ve questioned or underestimated me usually come to respect me and my work.
How did you get into opening an atelier at such a young age?
I’d always told myself that I’d start my own company by the time I turned 25. After interning and working under veteran designers for several years, I came to the point where I was no longer growing. In 2017, at the age of 24, I felt that it was time to really go after my dream and fulfill the calling that God had placed on my life since I was a child. It was then that I decided to start Its Goode Clothing. The name is a nod to my own name taking “Good” from Goodwin and adding the “e” from my first name. On a deeper level, the name also comes from the Biblical story of creation. In Genesis, when God looked at His creation he said that it was good. Similarly, as designers, we are creating and it’s good. In a way, we’re doing God’s work. When we work with a client, we’re able to connect with them while empowering them and telling their story through clothing. Once I had my plan set, I invited my colleague Desiree Olavarrieta to come on board as a designer and stylist and we haven’t looked back. We were already working with athletes on a clientele basis, so the transition was pretty seamless.
What have been some of your favorite memorable custom pieces that you have designed?
One of my favorite custom suits I’ve ever made was for NFL Defensive Tackle, Robert Nkemdiche. He is such a free spirit and a designer’s dream client. A few years ago he went through a phase where he was very inspired by 1970’s fashion. One of his main inspirations was David Bowie. He tasked me with designing him a yellow suit with exaggerated bell bottom pants and an oversized peak lapel. Anyone else would have thought it was crazy but Rob thought it was brilliant. That look was so much fun to bring to life. He wore it proudly to a game that season and caused quite a bit of commotion. Another one of my favorite suits was the draft suit I designed for Matisse Thybulle. The fabric itself was a beautiful blue floral brocade. The suit was made more special because of what we did with the inside. We honored his late mother by having one of her quotes and a handwritten message embroidered into the lining of his suit jacket. He was so happy with the result and it allows him to feel as though his mother was still able to be a part of the significant moment in his life.
You are also a stylist; how did that evolution come about?
Styling has always come naturally. I’ve always loved shopping and putting looks together. When it came to styling within the business, it just made sense to offer that service as well. It complements the other services we offer. Not only can I design a custom outfit for you, but I can tell you what to wear with it so that you’ll have a fully completed look that you can be confident in. This is especially helpful for clients such as professional athletes who often request our styling services for their game day looks. There’s really nothing we can’t do. Whatever you need. We’ve got you—it’s good.
You work a lot with the Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. He seems to be your muse. What's it like working with him?
Damian has definitely become my muse. He’a always been so supportive of my vision. He would ask for my style advice as far back as when I was still a design student. He even allowed me to put looks together for him when I was working as a design assistant. When I told him I was starting Its Goode, he was one of the first people to support me and say he’d let me design for him. Over the years, we’ve built a lot of trust with one another. I know the things he likes and I know how to push the envelope to get him to come out of his comfort zone. Trust is essential when designing custom for clients. If they trust you, they’ll be more open to trying new things. The more open the client is the more creative freedom I get to have as a designer. You can see evidence of this by looking at Damian’s style evolution over the years. There are outfits he wears now that he’d never have considered four years ago. The confidence he now has in his fashion choices makes me proud both as a stylist and a as a designer.
One of his first major fashion moments was in 2017 when we designed an olive-toned three-piece suit and convinced him to wear it without a shirt. He was reluctant to allow his chest and tattoos to show, but decided to trust our advisement anyway. The outfit went viral and influenced many other NBA players to wear suits without shirts as well. Now, wearing suits without shirts has become one of his signatures.
Another one of my favorite suits that I’ve designed for him is the half-and-half “Ruthless” suit. We were approached by Adidas to design a suit to coincide with the release of the “Ruthless” color way of Damian’s basketball shoe. The suit design was inspired by both the shoe and Damian himself. It was two-toned half and half to match the colors in the shoe. Then I had a prominent Los Angeles airbrush artist, Allen of Art Doctors, paint graffiti directly onto the fabric. Every word and phrase used tells a part of Damian’s story from growing up as a kid in Oakland to the man he’s become today. The outfit generated a lot of buzz and gave me the opportunity to really exercise my creativity. I’m proud of the way everything turned out.
Your designs for Damian's recent wedding ceremony have created quite a lot of buzz. For the ceremony, you created a sleek, custom-fitted tux but for the reception you went in for a more flamboyant, embellished number.
The vision for the wedding was to take the concept of black tie and make it authentically Dame. We always knew that we wanted to have two separate and distinct looks to differentiate between the ceremony and reception. For the ceremony, I always knew that a classic black tuxedo was the way to go. The classic silhouette is timeless. The black satin accents and subtle styling details create a look that’s very clean and understated. Damian wasn’t quite sold on the idea of wearing just black so we actually made a second version of this look in white. He ultimately made the decision to wear the black suit the morning of the ceremony, and we couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. While the ceremony look was designed with the intention of being understated, we took a completely different approach to the reception look. We wanted to show Dame D.O.L.L.A. in full effect. We found this amazing pink pearl colored silk organza fabric and were immediately inspired. I knew the fabric was perfect to create a sophisticated streetwear-inspired look. Although the look is still technically a suit, the jacket is constructed differently from your typical tuxedo coat. I designed the jacket without a lapel so that it would better align with the vest opening and highlight his tattoos and accessories. I also chose to extend the coat length three inches so it would hang more like an oversized casual coat or bomber jacket. I chose not to add any buttons or closures so the jacket would be forced to hang open to further create the boxier oversized look. Lastly, I made sure the jacket wasn’t lined so that Damian’s skin and tattoos would be visible through the sleeves. We paired the jacket and vest with ivory wool pants. And finally, the most important part of this look is the jewelry. It wouldn’t have hit the Dame without the four pearl necklaces from Chris Aire Beverly Hills. I’m so proud of the way that reception look turned out. Damian is the only person in the world who could have worn that on their wedding day and he absolutely killed it.
You're mainly known for your menswear, but have recently expanded into womenswear. Let's get into that. What made you explore that category?
As much as I love menswear, I’m still a woman. It’s always been something I wanted to find my way back to. Recently, I finally got the opportunity. Mara Brock Akil reached out to me after noticing the custom suits I’d designed for Damian. I jumped at the opportunity to work with her. It was really a full circle moment. There’s nothing I love more than a woman in a suit. In fact, my entrance project to FIDM was based around women wearing suits. I think it’s the ultimate act of rebellion and freedom. What’s bossier than a woman who can take a menswear silhouette and make it her own? It’s only fitting that the first woman I design for is the legendary boss, Mara. I love collaborating with her. She has a very clear vision of what she wants her style to look like. I’m grateful that she trusts me to bring it to life.
Do you find that it's different designing for women than for men?
I design for women exactly the same way I do for men.
You also have a more accessible streetwear collection. How did that come about? It's definitely a departure from your made-to-order creations.
I’ve always had a heart for streetwear. My dream was always to one day have a brand of my own. It’s something we played with a little bit early on, but didn’t fully pursue until last year. When the pandemic hit, there was less of a need for custom clothing and styling services. It made me realize that I needed to evolve and adapt my business to fit the state of the world at the time. I was inspired to create a capsule of T-shirts inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. I named the collection, “For the Goode of the People” and debuted it by having Damian wear our now signature “Protect Black Women” tee in the NBA Bubble. The shirt went viral. Since then we’ve expanded the into a full unisex brand with everything from hats to tees to shorts and sweats. It’s great being able to offer clothing in a lower price range because it allows us to be more accessible. Although the brand consists of streetwear, we still apply the same attention to detail that we do with our custom pieces. It’s great to be able to offer something not only to the celebrity, but also their fans. Furthermore, I’m grateful for the opportunity to tell my own story through clothing the same way that I tell each of our clients’ stories through my custom designs.
Last summer you dropped a "Goode Oakland" capsule collection. Let's get into that.
The “Goode Oakland” capsule was inspired by my love for my hometown. I consider our streetwear brand to be a celebration of Black culture and all things Oakland. In this capsule, we payed homage by using the yellow and green colors associated with the Oakland A’s. We even introduced an Oakland tie dye color way of our signature “Protect Black Women” tee. Our social media campaign was shot all throughout Oakland using my friends and family members as models. It was extremely personal and close to my heart.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Expect me to continue to grow and evolve. I don’t limit myself creatively. It’s Goode began with custom menswear. Now we’ve expanded to including streetwear and custom women’s clothing. Maybe one day we’ll have kids clothing and home goods. There’s no telling what I’ll accomplish in the future.