For two Flint clothing designers fashion is more of a lifestyle than a look.
Keion Morgan and Marquan Cager, co-owners of G1F2 Apparel, treat their t-shirts, sweatshirts, and caps as a retail line that doubles as a spiritual campaign.
In fewer than two years the company whose name represents the principle “God First, Family Second” has grown from an inspired concept to a visible brand.
Morgan and Cager say their message has been well-received and well-worn by diverse segments of the community.
“I love to dress. It’s always been a passion,” says Morgan. “I love putting clothes together, but for me fashion always meant something. I didn’t want to just put clothing on and have no purpose to it.”
Since high school when he and some friends formed the short-lived “Mackin and Niagara” line, whose name was inspired by two streets in Flint, Morgan maintained an interest in creating apparel that literally expressed itself.
“It was an idea I already had, but getting married, having kids, you put all your stuff to the backburner,” he says.
Almost 20 years later, after meeting his now ex-wife, who launched the When U Pray chain of t-shirts, he took the leap of faith to start a business that celebrates his spiritual commitments.
“We’re making it cool for people to say, ‘God’s first,’” says Morgan.
He says he first fasted and prayed about the idea of starting G1F2, then approached Cager, with whom he attends Ebenezer Ministries. Within five minutes of hearing Morgan’s pitch, Cager said, “Let’s do it.”
Cager and Morgan have been gratified by their customers’ acceptance of the clothing’s message.
“It’s wonderful how they respond, especially coming from different backgrounds of believing in Christ,” says Cager. “You got people who’ve been in the streets all their lives, who know nothing but the streets, but because we’re ministering through fashion, they’re able to show affection to Christ.”
G1F2’s slogan is “It’s a brand, it’s a belief and a blessing.”
“Our background is that we grew up in the ‘hood, single parent homes and having to deal with street stuff,” Morgan says. “We’re not people who are trying to beat you over the head with the bible, or being holier than thou. No, this is the way we live our lives. God is first, family is second. Everything else comes after that.”
Various t-shirt designs including “The Battle,” a theme of trials, tribulations, triumphs and testimonies resonate with customers, even those outside of religious circles who wear G1F2 apparel to nightclubs, says Morgan.
“Without trials and tribulations you can’t have triumphs and testimonies,” he says.
The truth and relevance of G1F2’s messages appeal to the community, Cager adds.
“It’s making them see everyday life. Without God you can’t do anything, without family you can’t do anything,” he says.
Although independent, local, urban fashion lines have become increasingly popular in recent years, Morgan says there’s as much room for new brands in Flint as there is for long-established names like Nike and Reebok.
“I love the fact that we all represent Flint and we all represent our own kind of thing,” he says. “I don’t look at it as competition. I think people are just looking for style. You don’t have to look for just one thing.
“We want you to wear our t-shirts and look fresh, and look fly,” Morgan says. “And, at the same time, you’re representing a higher message.”