.Reprezent Designer Sean Armstrong

Sean Armstrong is Sebastopol-based and Cloverdale-born. He is of Apache, Irish and Mayan ancestry and is a multi-hyphenate breakdancer and party promoter with an emphasis on fashion production. He owns the local clothing label, Reprezent.

I will admit that when I curated him into the upcoming 3rd Annual North Bay Fashion Ball (May 18 at Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma), I simply thought his clothing was cool. But after talking to him for this profile, I now consider his clothing a case-in-point of how much story, reference, gesture and message can be woven into what we wear.

Cincinnatus Hibbard: Sean, you have been telling me about the parties that you throw, which seem to represent all the six elements of hip-hop culture (breakdancing, DJing, MCing, graffiti, fashion and spreading the culture). When did you enter hip-hop, or when did hip-hop enter you?

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose

Sean Armstrong: Hip-hop started in the ’80s but has ancient roots in tribal times. For me, the culture was a path out of hardship. Between 14 and 22, I was running around with bad kids. It was fun and games at first, but got to the point where friends were killing each other. These were young kids with egos, born and raised in The Life, with fathers and uncles in jail for gang-banging.

I needed to find a way out. A few friends who were break dancers asked me to join them. With breaking, I could take that attitude and aggression into dance battles and win with skill instead of violence. My gangster friends respected that. That was back in 1996.

CH: In 2006, you started Reprezent hip-hop clothing line. Tell me what inspired your logo (a double triangle akin to a Star of David with a pyramid eye).

SA: It’s a Merkaba. It is ancient Egyptian sacred geometry, and it represents the balance of all oppositions. I use my clothing to spread the Merkaba.

CH: … And activate people with sacred geometry. Tell me about these patterned textiles that you use. They seem both psychedelic and digital.

SA: My mission has been expanded from preserving hip-hop culture to preserving my Indigenous Mayan culture. Those patterns are thousands of years old. Annually, I go on buying trips to the Mayan villages around Lake Atitlán, where they are hand-woven and loomed. Those patterns contain the vibrations of a visual song. When we see them, they activate our ancient selves and tell us who we really are.

CH: Represent.

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