As the coronavirus began to grip the world just over a year ago, the designer Patrick Henry, known professionally as Fresh, saw it as a call to action. “I was like, ‘Damn, everyone right now is really having a rough time,’” Fresh tells Variety of those early days. “The question was ‘What can we do with our success to move in a direction to help people?’”
Going from homelessness in 2017 to becoming the founder and creative director of the Los Angeles-based luxury fashion house Richfresh, the designer is perhaps best known as the mastermind behind the Weeknd’s red suit for his “After Hours” campaign. Most recently, RichFresh created the peach-colored suit that Justin Bieber flaunts in his video for “Peaches.”
With major buzz behind them, Fresh and his brother Chase were ready to grow the brand. But as the pandemic spread, they recalibrated and began making face masks under the name Henry.
“We took the money we had to go all in and start Henry,” says Fresh, who initially churned out masks simply to keep his tailors employed. “My design theory is to create products for myself. I also just knew that most masks suck. I’m huge on aesthetics and thought, ‘What can I do that’s better than what’s out there?’ And this is it.”
In addition, the team set a benchmark to give away 1 million masks, a lofty goal it’s chipping away at by fielding requests from organizations across the country. “We’re really happy that we already gave away several hundred thousand units,” Fresh says. “We’ll get messages from food drives, hospitals and fire stations saying, ‘Hey, we can really use these.’ Say no more. If you’re telling us you need some, we’ll send you some masks.”
To bolster their goal, the team is launching a multicity giveaway tour with stops in Fresh’s native Memphis, as well as Nashville, Atlanta and Houston. The masks also have become a favorite of A-listers including Jennifer Lopez and Michael B. Jordan.
“I think it’s a testament to what my brother and I built over a period of time,” says Fresh, who also has designed special-edition masks to raise awareness for charities. To mark World Autism Month, the brand is contributing partial proceeds to The Miracle Project.
“We took something that’s a health care device and merged it with pop culture. It feels like we found a purpose and a mission.”
Pictured above: Fresh (second from right) with Gabrielle Union, Zaya Wade and Dwyane Wade in Richfresh before the Truth Awards in Los Angeles in March 2020.