For anyone that considers themselves a lover of fashion, we can all agree that there is quite a bit that goes into selecting an outfit. With that being said, not too many of us would be thrilled to walk into an event and find someone with the same jacket on as us. As we spot the individual who dares to mimic our style, there are three options for how we can handle this situation. 1. We may awkwardly avoid that person the entire night hoping no one notices we are twinsies. 2. We may casually put our jacket away pretending we never put it on in the first place. Or 3. maybe you own your look and walk right up to your fashion twin and strike up a conversation. Obviously, you already have something in common as you share the same impeccable taste. For Rhea Fernandez and Angela Brantley of HERO/BLACK, that jacket that they both shared was the start of a beautiful and fashionable friendship.

After a few drinks, Rhea and Angela realized they had a lot more in common than a chic jacket. Eventually, they began collaborating and melding together an effortless and bold aesthetic to create the luxury street brand HERO/BLACK. With pieces constantly selling out  and a posh opening party at Virgin Hotels under their belt, Rhea and Angela are on their way to taking the Chicago fashion scene by storm.  Just to think, it all started with a jacket.

I caught up with the designers ahead of their lavish collection unveiling on the 25th floor of Virgin Hotels.  We talked about their fashion beginnings, their dreams for HERO/BLACK and why Virgin was a match made in heaven. Without further ado, let’s get to know Rhea and Angela of HERO/BLACK


TCL: Tell me about your earliest memories of when you were interested in fashion and design. What was that journey that lead to you becoming fashion designers?
Angela: I grew watching my stepmother sew. She always dragged me to fabric stores and took me shopping with her. It never occurred to me at the time that I might want to design but looking back on it, that was when I first fell in love with clothing.
Rhea: I too had a mother that loved to shop. As a toddler, before I could read, I could name all of the department stores based on their logos. That’s where fashion began for me. I have a degree in Interior Design and focused mainly on the influence of fashion in interiors through luxury branding. That is when I knew I wanted to design clothing.

TCL: The name HERO/BLACK is very unique, how did you come up with the name and what is the story behind that?

Angela: We wanted something bold and strong and personal to the two of us. Hero is my daughter’s name and she encompasses all of those things.

Rhea: Black is everything. The very first thing we created together was a t-shirt that read “Nothing is the New Black.” People are always trying to say something is the new black (orange is the new black, love is the new black etc) but nothing will ever be the new black. It’s still true and is still one of our best sellers.

TCL: What’s your personal style and how is that reflected in HERO/BLACK?

Angela & Rhea: Our personal style and HERO/BLACK are one and the same. Effortless. Bold and yet understated at the same time.

TCL: When designing this current collection, what would you say inspired the aesthetic?

Angela & Rhea: Every item in our collection was created because we wanted to wear it.


TCL: What would you say is signature or key to the HERO/BLACK aesthetic?

Angela & Rhea:  Strong lines. Masculine cuts

TCL: You’ve had another line, Idle.Wild that was quite successful when it came out. Comparing your two lines, what differentiates HERO/BLACK from  Idle.Wild?

 Angela & Rhea: Idle.Wild was the precursor to HERO/BLACK. It was the name we used before HERO/BLACK was fully realized. It was a similar aesthetic except it felt younger somehow. When we changed our name, it felt like we were graduating. We’ve learned so much and are so much more confident now in who we are  as people and as a brand.

TCL: Describe the HERO/BLACK woman

The HERO/BLACK woman is fearless, and sexy without trying to be. Effortless. Timeless. She doesn’t buy clothes, she collects pieces

TCL: What elements of Chicago are present in the HERO/BLACK brand?

Angela & Rhea: Chicago is very infused in our brand because Chicago is a big part of us. Layered and full of infinite potential.


TCL: Looking through the collection, do you have any personal favorite pieces?

Angela: Depends on what day you ask me. Today I woke up Obsessed with our wool sleeve bomber jacket. I love it because it’s such an edgy and yet luxurious take on a jacket style that is so popular for men and women. You put our jacket on and you immediately feel edgier.

Rhea: Usually when we’re about to release something I’m sick of everything because we’ve been staring at it and fussing over it for so long before anyone has seen it. This time, I’m in love with everything! Today I’d have to say the white culottes. I love that you can wear them low like a basketball short or high at your waist and they immediately become feminine.

TCL: There is a clear and distinct aesthetic with HERO/BLACK but what is the message that you wish to convey?

Angela & Rhea: Our brand’s message is to be unapologetic and unafraid of whoever you want to be. Wear what you want. Create what you want and be bold.


TCL: What has been a career highlight for you thus far?

Angela & Rhea: It’s happening right now! A lot of things we’re releasing at Virgin we’ve been working on for the last 10 months. The excitement and anticipation of this unveiling is the best feeling in the world.

TCL: How did your collaboration with Virgin come about?

Angela & Rhea: We love Virgin! We’ve been regulars there since they opened earlier this year and when it came to planning this event, it was the only place we could picture having it.

TCL: What is it about Virgin that fits into the Hero/Black theme?

Angela & Rhea: Virgin is such an established brand in the arts/entertainment industry. The hotel  is new and exciting, vibrant and eclectic, and infused with so much character. So is Hero/Black. It is the perfect fit.


TCL: Reflecting on your journey, what advice would you tell your younger self?

Angela: To stop shrinking myself down to fit in someone else’s box.

Rhea: Relax and enjoy the moment.

TCL: Where would you like to see Hero/Black in the future?

Angela & Rhea: We want Hero/Black to continue to make cool shit and for our brand to be known everywhere for the cool shit that we make.

To learn more about HERO/BLACK and shop the collection head to


All photos courtesy of HERO/BLACK