Your Break Between Classes

Etu Evans- The Modern Renaissance Man

Alana B. Matthew Photographed by Quantrell Colbert

Etu Evans has built a footwear emporium characterized by the juxtaposition of quintessential style, eccentric designs, and striking purple soles. You may have seen the distinct footwear of Etu Evans on your favorite “A-list” celebrities, including (but not limited to) Beyoncé, Halle Berry, Michael B. Jordan, Aretha Franklin, and many, many others. With features in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, and more, Evans has asserted his prominence in the fashion industry and beyond. The “lifestyle architect,” as he is widely known, has implemented the utilization of creativity as a means to enhance each dimension of his life.

The essence of Evans’ fashions can be traced back to his southern roots in South Carolina, where the matriarchs in his life catalyzed his fascination with the style landscape.

“Discovering the magic of shoes started with my grandmother,” Evans reminisced about his childhood, recalling those nostalgic moments when his grandmother would seek his style advice before heading to church on Sundays.

From a tender age, Evans had an astute awareness of how his grandmother’s stance, posture, and silhouette would transform with the simple addition of a pair of heels. He marveled at how they elongated her frame, leaving an indelible impression on his young mind, marking the beginning of his fascination with footwear. 

Evans recalled that his grandmother’s grandiose inventory of shoe boxes and clothing affirmed him to “do more, be more, feel more, and create more.” He did just that. 

In 1988, Evans pursued his secondary education at South Carolina State University. Along with his studies in social work and marketing, the creative genius decided to add a little more color to his life by blossoming into the art of floral arrangements. He scoured his university’s home decor department for floral scraps and created intricate designs that adorned doorways and other interior projects. But Evans didn’t stop there. He took his creativity to the next level by using those same floral scraps to make motifs for hats that would make any fashionista green with envy, which was proven true when two publicists fought over one of his creations at a fashion show in Manhattan. 

“That was really the magical moment when fashion really kicked off for me,” Evans thought back, and his career went into full bloom thereafter. 

Seeking to advance his career, the style advisor made the move to the United States fashion capital and enrolled at Columbia University in Harlem. Evans’ success in the industry skyrocketed in the “city of dreams,” granting him opportunities such as routinely presenting at New York Fashion Week, as well as curating the birthday jewelry for international supermodel Iman. Eventually, Evans stumbled into producing leather goods, and more specifically, footwear. 

“When I studied the great European brands,” Evans reflected, “I realized that these brands really started with leather goods– the trunks, the luggage, essentially the lifestyle.”

A true “Renaissance Man,” Evans prides himself on a synergetic approach to his brand’s framework. He’s taken heed to some of the archetypical contributions of Europe’s most esteemed couturiers and infused them with the culture of his roots in South Carolina and Harlem, creating a brand that’s both timeless and undeniably modern. Luxurious, yet close to home.

Evans has left his “footprint,” as he wittingly calls it, on the fashion world in more ways than one. Perhaps the most distinctive is the purple sole that graces all of his shoes, which Evans identifies as far more symbolic than simply eye-catching. 

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“There’s nothing more regal that makes a profound statement of one’s physical presence, spiritual and emotional presence, than the hue of purple,” Evans affirmed, revealing the knack for detail that influenced his most eminent design choice. 

Utilizing the color purple was also important to the crafty designer for its spiritual and energetic association. Purple or indigo is associated with the “crown chakra,” located at the top of the head– the seventh and final chakra. It connects a person with their supreme self, which Evans desires his clients to embody whenever they wear his designs christened with the culminating purple sole. As a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc, for Evans, purple also represents the virtues of community, scholarship, strength, and perseverance that he has attained through his brotherhood.

Evans has grappled with the harsh reality that shoes are quite a luxury, explaining that many people around the world remain without them, and are forced to walk on glass or other sharp objects that penetrate their feet and result in exposure to infectious diseases. Through his “Solesville Foundation,” Evans has worked to resolve the international issue by “saving Soles one step at a time.” 

By drawing a parallel between the current limited access to shoes in BIPOC communities and the historical absence of footwear in the Black community during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Evans highlights the significance of Solesville as a destination for newly released incarcerated men who may have nothing to their name. 

“I wanted to be the one to help people step into their destiny, to leave an impact by putting their best foot forward,” revealed Evans, who happens to be no stranger to giving back to his community. In fact, he spent part of his tenure at Columbia University collecting shoes from the streets of New York City and repairing them at his shoe repair shop located on 135th Street in Harlem. 

At this point in Evans’ career, he hopes to further propel and develop his brand identity by pursuing multiple business ventures. “Tu Media” is a multi-media agency specializing in “providing media content for television, film and magazine publications, as well as, offering creative direction for style, artistic, academic and philanthropic related projects,” according to the brand’s official website.

In 2021, Evans introduced “The Book of Etu,” a new street-wear line representing a reimagined approach to his signature style. 

“It’s concrete couture and wearable liberation for ‘afro-nauts,’ people who want to orbit to the next level who understand their history,” defines Evans about his latest fashion venture, which features hoodies, tote bags, dresses, and more.

Etu Evans, the name that echoes the essence of elegance and innovation, has turned the fashion world on its head with his trailblazing style contributions. From being in sync with the latest fashion trends to crafting innovative masterpieces that are true testaments to his artistic prowess, Etu has left no stone unturned in cementing his position as a style icon and revolutionary. In a fashion world where conformity reigns supreme, Evans has become a beacon of hope for a fashion industry that has long overlooked and marginalized many.

Etu Evans, the fashion virtuoso, epitomizes opulence and originality.

“It takes courage to be yourself. You can always be authentic, powerful, and impactful when you understand your purpose and the person you are called to be, and not the conference call you’re invited to,” Evans said lightheartedly. 

For more insight into the invigorating life of Etu Evans, visit his website,, or watch his 2020 Ted Talk entitled, “Leaving a Footprint.”

Kynadi Hyde

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