I remember the first time I met Jean Messeroux. We were both new hires at a high school and the only two Black men in the new staff orientation. After a bad divorce from my previous school that stemmed from racial animosity (the principal disliked my hair style that she thought to be “stoner”-like) I was looking for a fresh start. From the very first day we clicked after Jean complimented me on my freeform loccs. His large and volumed afro, a look he has since ditched for a traditional caesar, was a statement in itself. At that moment, I thought he was the coolest teacher I had ever met. That was before finding out he’s taken pictures of Kendrick Lamar, Currensy, Dave East, and had his face advertised across NYC.
About a week later, the new staff were sharing our personal stories that were supposed to last anywhere from 2-5 minutes, but Jean spoke for about 30 minutes. A great orator, no school leader dared to interrupt Jean as he broke down every step of the journey that made him the man that he is today. Jean’s complete disregard for the time stamps and structure that mark the “professional” day fit his personality. Jean is a rare human. In a time when the disease of clout is ever-present, Jean remains dedicated to the cause.
Jean Messeroux, also known as Jean the Hueman, is a Renaissance man. An educator, photographer, therapist, and clothing designer, Jean has cultivated the power of his community through social media to build a platform that allows him to showcase his varied projects and speak directly to a wide-ranging audience. Whether as a photographer for the Joe Budden podcast or by donating all proceeds of his clothing sales to necessary black struggle causes, Jean is re-shaping the idea of masculinity and highlighting issues that are traditionally ignored within the Black community. More examples include his Newark photography projects and mental health counseling service.
Since May 2019, Jean has worked carefully to curate a slow roll out of first t-shirts, then hoodies, and then sweatpants, ensuring he does not oversaturate the market in non-stop drops. With simple designs of the brand’s name, Jean’s attention to detail when choosing quality materials is what makes the Hueman Gallery clothes stand out. On his Instagram page, he frequently previews color schemes and concepts, asking consumers which style they prefer. This type of direct interaction with fans defeats any need for a focus group. Jean is often speaking directly to his people and his hard work in different creative endeavours is starting to pick up.
Check out our socially distanced interview that covers the beginning of the Hueman Gallery, why comfortable clothes matter, the evolution of professionalism, and why supporting brands that sell you more than hype is important.
GSC: Who are you and how do you identify?
Jean the Hueman: This is always a funny question, the “who are you?” Jean Messeroux, also known as Jean the Hueman. You mean how do I identify racially, or?
GSC: However you want to identify.
Jean the Hueman: I usually think in work-related terms. First and foremost, I’m a human being. In terms of what I do, I’m an educator, entrepreneur, and photographer. Racially I identify as a man of African descent. More specifically, Haitian and Costa Rican descent.
GSC: What is the Hueman Gallery brand and what does it represent?
Jean the Hueman: The Hueman Gallery is a brand that I started last year, May 2019. It’s basically just a collection of comfort clothes, designs that are honestly inspired by stuff I’d want to wear, like things I want to be comfortable in or just wear on a regular basis. I used to brand a lot of my pictures as “Hueman Portraits” and “Hueman” was the name I was running with for a while on social media. The Hueman Gallery branched off as a collection for clothes, but it started as an archive for my photography. There’s also a journal aspect of it; I have my photojournalism projects. It’s basically a hub for my creations.
GSC: What inspired you to start making clothes? What/who are your main influences?
Jean the Hueman: It was more so what I would wanna wear. I’ve always been into streetwear and I’ve always been into comfort clothes. Sweatsuits, t-shirts, stuff like that. I realized a lot of the clothes I was buying were from designers that basically appropriated streetwear culture, specifically black culture, who weren’t necessarily from that culture, but found it profitable. To me, I was like why should I pay $200 plus for a hoodie from some brand that doesn’t care about me or my livelihood and would probably stalk me if I was in their store, when I could just create my own that comes from a more genuine place, has solid quality, and is more affordable. I feel the fashion industry is structured for us to be overcharged for products because of their hype. My intro to the fashion industry mainly came from photography. Before I started creating clothes, I was shooting a lot of fashion stuff, like models, or helping people out building their brands, shooting product photography, so I think that was a world I was always around and had access to and wanted to be a part of in a different way, other than photography. Once the timing was right and I had a plan and the resources to create my own brand I got started.
GSC: What about simple streetwear or comfy clothes inspires you?
Jean the Hueman: I think it’s the day-to-day aspect of it. I think there’s a difference between showroom pieces and runway pieces. A lot of the runway stuff you see from brands is not wearable on a regular basis. I can’t speak for everyone, but I think most people when it comes to shopping runway pieces might wear it once or a couple times and not wear it again. Whereas your daily comfort wear, or streetwear, that’s what you’re wearing on a regular basis. That’s what you’re making the majority of your decisions in. Especially in our age right now, we have new business models, new businesses, and new cultures of professionalism in business. Even when it comes to owners of companies or executives, the days of professionals wearing shirts and ties and suits is out. Now everyone is about being comfortable. A lot of times you’ll see CEOs and owners and executives in hoodies. I think it’s just a transition, especially with remote work and everyone being home more. You gotta’ be comfortable. Again, for me, I go by what I want to wear and what I feel comfortable in. Sweatsuits, t-shirts that are thick, comfortable, and soft. I feel better and more confident going through my day. So that’s where that came from.
GSC: You clearly care about style and the way you physically present yourself. Why does style matter so much to you?
Jean the Hueman: That’s just another aspect of self expression, like anything else. Just like the work that you do, the relationships that you have, how you treat others, how you conduct yourself. Every decision you make, I think every part of life has an element of self expression. Style is just one of those elements.
GSC: I guess you’re against school uniforms?
Jean the Hueman: I’m not really a uniform person. When I was growing up I went to public schools, so I didn’t have to wear uniforms. I understand why schools do it, but I think allowing kids to dress, allowing people to dress how they want to allows them to define their own image. When people have the freedom to express themselves, they operate better and feel more complete, or actualized. I think that’s important.
GSC: How did you dress as a kid or teenager? How has your style evolved over time?
Jean the Hueman: When I was growing up I wore baggy clothes. I had a lot of baggy stuff because that’s where the culture was at the time. Tall t-shirts, really big jeans; we used to dress like rappers. That was just the culture. I think that started to transition towards my last year of high school. People started to wear more fitted clothes, and that was when I started to wear more fitted clothes. As far as my personal style it always depends on how I feel for the day or even what’s happening in the moment. I don’t really consider myself a trendy person, but I just dress for the occasion and how I feel and what outfits help me express myself the most.
GSC: Are there any clothing brands you have an interest in collaborating with? If not, why not?
Jean the Hueman: Not really, but I’m not opposed to it. I don’t really have specific brands in mind. I’m opposed to collaborations if it doesn’t make sense aesthetically. I’m not gonna collaborate with a brand that has aesthetics that are completely different from mine. Everything has to make sense. It all has to line up. I don’t have anyone specific in mind, but I’m not opposed to it. It will probably happen at some point in time though.
GSC: If you had to choose: Newark or Boston?
Jean the Hueman: It depends, I think Boston as far as culture. Boston to me is a beautiful city. There’s also great food there. I think all around it has a really rich culture and lots to offer. Not that Newark doesn’t, Boston has more in different aspects. I was gonna say, Newark has the proximity to a lot of cities. New York is right there, Philly is not far, it doesn’t take long to get to DC. But that’s not really speaking to the value of Newark itself, it’s speaking to the values of cities it’s close to. But I think Newark is a beautiful city too. It also has great people and a lot of creativity and heart. I grew up in Massachusetts though, so I think that’s always gonna have a special place in my heart.
GSC: The Hueman Gallery also has the Hueman Sessions which includes: Active Listening, Consultations, & Life Coaching. What role does mental health wellness play into your brand?
Jean the Hueman: Mental health is big to me. One thing I do appreciate is that it’s part of a popular conversation now, and that’s something that, through the brand, I want to promote and give people access to. I definitely want to provide and develop those resources as the brand continues to grow. I think it’s important, man. It’s beautiful that we’re in an era where you could merge different industries and subjects, like a brand doesn’t necessarily have to be just a clothing line. There’s a lot of different ways to engage with different resources. I think the brands that we support and whatever it is that we buy into, whether it’s fashion or entertainment, should be nurturing us as well. Those relationships should always be reciprocal.
GSC: What does masculinity mean to you?
Jean the Hueman: There are different definitions. For me personally, I follow or subscribe to more traditional roles as far as being able to provide for and protect yourself and your loved ones, or people who are vulnerable. But again, I don’t think that applies to everyone. Those are values I’ve always considered to be important.
GSC: Do you consider yourself an artist or an entrepreneur first?
Jean the Hueman: Entrepreneur, definitely. I think there was a point in time where I did think of myself as an artist more. I’ve transitioned away from that. I’m definitely entrepreneurially focused.
GSC: You recently released the Dear Summer Collection led by your first video advertisements. Do you have plans to release more visuals as you develop your line?
Jean the Hueman: For sure. You’ll definitely see more of that.
GSC: For the aspirational designers reading at home, what’s the main advice you’d give to someone hoping to release a clothing line?
Jean the Hueman: Do your research. I would say do your research before anything. Check the name you have for your brand, see if that name is already in use. If it is, find a way to tweak it so you’re not copying somebody else’s name or somebody else’s brand. Just do your research. I think a lot of times we look at stuff online or the work that other people are doing, and we always see the highlights whether it’s through social media or even in person. But there’s a lot of work done behind the scenes, a lot of logistics and steps that are taken that are not always seen. So I would say, do your research so you know what goes into it and you’re not out on a limb trying to put things together without any direction.
GSC: Basketball is clearly something that inspires you. Any prediction for who will win the NBA championship this year?
Jean the Hueman: Imma go with the Lakers. I’m a fan of Lebron to be honest, so I’m riding with Lebron, man.
GSC: Who are your basketball style icons past and present?
Jean the Hueman: Definitely Allen Iverson, without question. Especially in that era of streetwear and baggy streetwear, Iverson was the NBA poster child for it. Currently I don’t really keep up with basketball style, but I like LeBron’s style from what I’ve seen. I don’t know if it’s solely his brand, but he has Uninterrupted. I like some of the styles he puts out. I think basketball’s style can be kind of strange, sometimes they wear more questionable things to me, just as far as the style and direction. I can’t really say there’s a basketball player that I really look to as a style icon. I do like Russell Westbrook; just the audacity that he has with fashion. The confidence in how he wears his clothes. Him just being openly creative with his outfits. That’s cool.
GSC: A lot of them I’d say are the runway type of vibes; stuff you wouldn’t really wear.
Jean the Hueman: Yeah exactly, you framed it perfectly. I feel like it’s not of the Iverson era, or earlier era, where those styles were more applicable, day-to-day. Now it kind of feels like players are doing it for that pregame snapshot. It’s like a runway feel. So I don’t really see players wearing a lot of their outfits on a regular basis, but I respect it at the end of the day.
GSC: How have you been taking care of your mental health during the pandemic and racial uprising?
Jean the Hueman: Exercise, man. I’ve been trying to stay active. I think that’s a big part of it, especially with being quarantined or stationed at home. When you’re not active, your body being stagnant can cause your mind to be stagnant. So I’ve been trying to stay active, whether it’s jogging or I started playing basketball again recently. I was in a mixed martial arts class also. Reading, meditating, and prayer has always been big for me. Just trying to keep my mind and body engaged as much as possible.