Before Qilo hats eventually knock Obey off the shelves, you have the chance to say that you were one of the first to rock them. Speaking of chance...even Chance the Rapper is a fan of Qilo, along with Joey Bada$$, Eric Arc Elliot, and Pro Era. 

In less than a year, Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences student Jerrell Chalmers was able to turn his idea into a reality, transforming designs that he envisioned into hats. They are both inspired and admired by popular rap artists.

For those who don’t know what Qilo is, just look around campus and you’ll be sure to spot the unique 5 panel hats with one-of-a-kind patterns ranging from pineapples, to fern leaves, to chevron. Chalmers explains “Qilo is catching the C-train Downtown; it is the last-minute RSVP; Qilo is waking up at 9 for your 9:15, but still making it on time; but most of all, Qilo is fun.” 

If you think the designs are unique, the actual meaning behind them makes them even more creatively conceptual. It was the philosopher Lao Tzu’s ancient Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step”, that inspired the name Qilo, which refers to “kilogram” or “thousand." Even the pineapples are more than just fun to look at. The pineapple is the universal symbol of hospitality all over the world, which is why Chalmers knew it would be the ideal pattern.

While Chalmers is honored to see his fellow peers around campus sporting and supporting Qilo hats, you can imagine his excitement to have seen Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era walk out on stage rocking them at the “Beats on Banks” concert. Chalmers said, “he knew it was the start of something great." Since then, when Chance the Rapper recently came to perform at his sold out show at Rutgers, members of the Qilo team were able to meet and give him a hat as well.    

Qilo’s recognition by renowned figures doesn’t end with just celebrity rap artists. Chalmers and the rest of the Qilo team had the opportunity to work with distinguished photographers and Wilhelmina Models, which are signed by one of the largest and most successful agencies. They have even worked with the Fashion Director of Tumblr, Valentine Uhovski, whose helped them gain many connections in the the great big fashion industry.  “Uhovski has helped us so much,” Chalmers said. “He has brought us to Glamour Magazine mixers, Lincoln Center, and even Milk Studios during Fashion Week.” But most of all, Chalmers owes Qilo’s success to his co-founder and initial investor, Michael Stein.                        

Coco Chanel once said that “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” 

Qilo is the epitome of how fashion can be drawn from any element of life, as Jerrell and the Qilo team have done so by turning an idea into a story. 

To join the Qilo movement, you can visit qilonyc.com