Kush Alumni wants you to dress like a boss and then party with Rick Ross
Eric Harris (also known as Banks by some), the 33-year-old owner and founder of branding and entertainment company Kush Alumni, was involved in the production and promotion of events before he could even be legally admitted to a club.
“I’ve been doing advertising and marketing for about seventeen years now,” says Harris. “I came here because of my family members — my brother Lionheart from Memphis, Tennessee, and my cousin Killer Mike, who lives in Atlanta. Just different people I was associated with throughout my childhood that made me want to get into the entertainment industry. ”
Over the years, Harris has built a network of insider connections in the music, arts, fashion and cannabis industries, and he’s leveraging those connections to bring Denver an all-day fashion and music extravaganza on Sunday, February 20th . The event will be the Life of Fashion, a catwalk show highlighting local designers and brands. But by this evening, Harris and Kush alumni will have transformed the ReelWorks venue into an epic concert hosted by the one and only Rick Ross.
By the time Harris entered the entertainment industry as a teenager, his older brother and cousin had already made a name for themselves, giving him a significant head start. He quickly realized that with his network of industry connections he could do much more than just party in the hottest clubs. He founded Kush Alumni in Memphis as well as 719 to 303 promotions he built with his father.
Harris came to Colorado to bring the energy of the “dirty south” to an untapped market, he says. He wanted to see what he could do with a real blank slate, so instead of starting in Denver, he decided to start in Colorado Springs. But it wasn’t long before Kush Alumni expanded to Denver, and it now has an annual schedule of signature events in both cities. “We own the trap and paint event that we host in Denver and the Springs,” he notes. “We’re also the ones that do the Black Party every year, we do the White Splash Party in Colorado Springs — so a lot of things we do are annual events now. It’s set up so we can produce a Rick Ross show for Denver’s bigger things like that.”
In conceiving Life of Fashion, Harris wanted to offer urban streetwear designers an alternative platform to Denver Fashion Week. He had performed a combined fashion show and concert at the Summit in 2018 and was willing to reconsider the idea.
“As a promoter and marketer, I travel to different states, and I didn’t want Colorado and Denver to keep producing urban wear or streetwear fashion shows that were really not up to the standard of Denver Fashion Week,” he explains. “When people are at Denver Fashion Week, everyone wants to go all out and go for it, but … it’s very tight-knit now because of its longevity. I want to bring more fun as far as the music, people who move, models who don’t walk the runway so stiff – they can have fun on the runway.”
Harris wants to create a more fun and inclusive atmosphere than Denver Fashion Week, but with the same hype. “That’s the ultimate goal,” he says, “to create an environment for a fashion show that can include all brands, not just one specific brand.” To differentiate the Life of Fashion from ordinary fashion shows, it’s performed during the show by Jay Triiiple, Troy Good and Sanaa Raelyn, as well as tunes by DJ Simone Says and KDJ Above.
The designers on the Life of Fashion runway are designers who may not fit the traditions of Denver Fashion Week, and that’s exactly what Harris intended.
“Overall it’s a lot of urban wear, street wear, even winter clothes: ski gear, goggles, equipment,” he says. “A lot of different people don’t get a chance to show their product either because they don’t know how or some of the platforms are so deadlocked that they don’t allow new people to show their product. They “I’d just rather stick with what they know. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you have a community of all demographics from around the world, there should be some avenues open to everyone.”
The runway show, hosted by The Session’s Milk Chris and Maria Loreto, will feature merchandise from brands such as GoGang, Everything Charizma, Living Our Reality, King of the 303, 5 Points Apparel, My Generation T’s, Debonair Streetwear, Get Busy Livin, Cold World and Lavish Queens Fabrics, many of which are black owned and based in Colorado. Harris specifically wanted to focus on local brands so he could potentially introduce them to regular customers. He has high hopes for the participating companies, he says: “It’s about attracting the revenue and their customer base to them.
Just as the Life of Fashion is not a typical fashion show, the Rick Ross concert afterwards will not be a typical concert.
“Most of the concerts you see in Denver are basically stand-up concerts, you go to the bar, you wait for the artist to perform, the artist performs – that’s it. This concert is different,” promises Harris. “There will be things to interact with and not just stand in one place all night looking crazy. We’ll be giving away shots and giving away bottles throughout the night. There’s going to be a lot of activity so people don’t feel, ‘Oh, this is boring — I’m going to stand for three hours just waiting for the artist to come on stage.’”
Alongside Rick Ross, there’s a packed lineup featuring some of Denver’s best artists, including AP, A Meazy, Mo-Luv and Tana 10 Birdz, who will keep the party going between the fashion show and the concert. “We’ll have a cocktail hour with DJs in between, bars will be open, we’ll have a 360-degree photo booth, the experience will be amazing,” says Harris. “So if you have a ticket for both, you don’t have to go at all. And if you have VIP tickets we actually have a VIP experience in the upper sky bar level.”
What do you wear to such an event? Harris has some suggestions. “The participants should simply look presentable. The reason I say this is because Denver is such a tough market to control with the dressing. They’re so used to being careless with the dressing,” he says, laughing. “There isn’t a strict dress code like a suit and tie or anything because it’s a concert, but we tell people to look proper. Casual, presentable, something you want to wear. And no gang clothes. Because of the fact that we’re bringing Rick Ross, if you want to come to the stunt, you should want to look your best.”
Come show yourself and get ready for a wild night with one of rap’s most recognizable names.
fashion life, Presented by Kush Alumni, airs Sunday, February 20, 3-7 p.m. at ReelWorks, 1399 35th Street. The After Party with Rick Ross, also at ReelWorks, is from 9pm to 1am. Ticket prices vary.