Born into a family of style mavens and tastemakers, Eric M. Jenkins was destined to have a future in fashion. Dating back to the 1960’s in Pittsburgh, PA, Eric’s paternal grandmother broke social barriers and was one of the first black women to be honored on the 10 Best Dressed of Pittsburgh list. She was awarded this distinction so often that she was eventually inducted into the Pittsburgh Courier Fashion Hall of Fame.
Eric’s earliest memories of men’s fashion stems from those he shared with his dad during his childhood. Every morning, Eric witnessed his father putting on his impeccable tailored suit, silk tie, pressed white shirt, Italian made leather shoes with matching belt as he headed off to work at the University of Chicago’s Seminary. Indeed, fashion and style is in Eric’s blood.
Eric’s budding interests in the worlds of fashion and art was complemented by his interest in handcrafted woodcarvings, paintings, drawing and photography. While attending William H. Ray Elementary School, Eric began to learn about different art forms ranging from steel-life drawings to performance theater through the initiatives of the University of Chicago. As a Marwen Art student at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, Eric learned the art of sculpting and the true meaning of craftsmanship. Often wanting to stand out from the crowd, at age four Eric embraced entrepreneurship and started polishing shoes to jump-start his fashion collection. His sharp eye for distinguishing classic styles versus trends was apparent to all who knew him. As Eric matured, his love of fashion inspired him to work for classic fashion giants such as Cole Haan and Barney’s New York.
Eric graduated from Kenwood Academy High School in Chicago’s Hyde Park and matriculated at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. At Fisk, a Historically Black College and University, Eric learned more about the social injustices minorities faced and the debilitating economic implications of these inequities. Armed with this knowledge, after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and Anthology, Eric resolved to bridge his passion for art and fashion to help alleviate social injustices through the creation of his bow tie line ART OF EMJ