We can all breathe a sigh of relief, because Sunday nights are good again.
Thanks to HBO, we can combat our pre-Monday blues with some pretty awesome television programming. After seeing where Daenerys Targaryen’s heels will take her on Game of Thrones, and how John David Washington wears the hell out of a pair of silk pajama pants on Ballers, multi-hyphenate Issa Rae is back with the second season of her acclaimed comedy series, Insecure. The show picks up three months after Rae’s character finds herself single after cheateing on her boyfriend, Lawrence (Jay Ellis) — and with this newfound relationship status comes a new look, something the show's costume designer Ayanna James calls the “ho phase.”
In a preview for the upcoming season, Rae asks her best friend (Molly Yvonne Orji) if she could teach her how to “ho.” But, what does one wear to do just that?
“Whatever makes you feel confident!” James tells Refinery29. “I see the ‘ho phase’ as a period of time in a person's life when they feel sexually empowered. The outfit should really show off what you think your best assets are. If you do a double-take of yourself, you’ve found it.”
James put that into play on Sunday, as we saw Rae stumble through a series of (admittedly) bad first dates with an array of looks — including a red crew-neck that had the Internet scrambling for details.
The n***as sweatshirt Rae wears is from New York-based label Omondi, a small, indie brand run by Recho Omondi. Started in fall 2015, Omondi's signature pullovers — which come in three varieties: the aforementioned option, one that reads “original content,” and a customizable version — have become Instagram bait and celebrity favorites. And though a top printed with the word "n***as" may seem divisive, in an interview with W magazine, Omondi said the response was generally positive. “It was a tongue-and-cheek offering we introduced for Black History Month. People liked the juxtaposition of this socially charged “curse word” hand-sewn into pastel embroidery. It made some people uncomfortable — but our customer understands it.”
“I didn't imagine it would half a shelf life this long,” Omondi told Refinery29 of the sweatshirt Issa wore. Melina (Matsoukas, the director) had bought several and I guess Issa saw it and with Ayanna, decided to put it in the show. It was funny to see it in the premiere because I think the team at Insecure had the same sense of humor about it as we did.”
James notes that it's important for her to utilize her platform to showcase young designers of color, so what better opportunity to give Omondi a much-deserved moment in the spotlight? She shared the sweatshirt on her Instagram, writing “Here you go! @issarae's "NIGGAS" shirt is from none other than NY designer @omndi. Let's make sure she sells out, okay? #BuyBlack #InsecureHBO.” Omondi also posted an image of Rae in the top: “Issa Rae in the Season 2 premeire of HBO's Insecure wearing our OMONDI 'NIGGAS' pullover. Available now at RechoOmondi.com.”
It’s been “all love” since the show’s premiere. “We had taken it off the website after Black History Month, so there were people who'd missed out that still really wanted it,” Omondi said. “A few people were disgruntled by the retail price, so we adjusted it a bit— but it costs what it costs. All in all everyone's had a great sense of humor about it, which I appreciate.”
As for what we can wear out after we’ve swiped right, James says go for something that makes you feel cool and confident, like “fitted premium denim, your fuck me pumps, and a nice blouse appropriate with the season.” When it comes to the shoes for our perfect “sexy walk” (á la Rae), though, James says there's no such thing.