Baltimore native Aaron Coleman had the imagination to turn one of his passions into his day-to-day lifestyle and one of the most recognizable, up-and-coming clothing brands in his hometown. Founded in 2014, Always Working was started by Coleman and longtime friend, Treasure Robinson.
Hailing from Northeast Baltimore in the Belair-Edison neighborhood, Coleman says he took an interest in clothing as early as elementary school. With a mandatory uniform for school five days out of the week, he says that made him want to put together the best outfits he could to wear on the weekends. As middle school approached, Coleman says he began to draw inspiration from the likes of Terry Kennedy and Pharrel Williams. “I was wearing the skinnies [jeans] in ’07,” said Coleman; “Not the neon, New Boyz jerk sh*t swag [though].”
He also liked stores like American Apparel and Urban Outfitters growing up. However, his father instilled in him the mindset that he could not always be the consumer. Coleman says his father always had him trying to find his own hustle, from selling ringtones to learning how to cut hair. He learned at an early age that he had to transform his admirations to his own creations, and something that would be profitable for him. While it took him years to manifest into something stable, Coleman had this mindset at the forefront of the creation of his brand, Always Working.
A near-death experience on a basketball court in 2011 is what pushed Coleman even more to begin his Always Working brand. He had to endure the suffrage of open heart surgery, which he says made him look at his own life differently. “You’re lucky to be alive and to [be able] to change your perspective on things,” he says. He says he wants to leave something memorable on this Earth, and his clothing is his best outlet to do so. “I couldn’t just go to college, get a degree, and work for someone. I need complete control.” By the time he was fully healthy and had a newfound mindset for his idea of Always Working, he was ready to take his opportunity and launch in 2014.
Coleman says the name for his brand came out of spite, due to his father never being content with any amount of money. “He wanted that attitude of never being satisfied,” says Coleman. “This also applies to people chasing their dreams instead of conforming to society’s norms. I needed something I could build with.”
Coleman says his influences stem from everyday people, mainly the same people whom his brand is intended for. “The Blue Collar worker is appropriated in pop culture and not accounted for,” he says. “Really high class people find work aesthetic and position it with high fashion.” In Coleman’s mind, he wanted to make real clothes for everyday people that they could afford.
He mentioned designer Virgil Abloh, and his admiration for how the founder of the Off-White fashion label presents his products, from his early Pyrex releases to his Jim Joe spray-painted messages. Baltimore boutique Pedx, located on Aliceanna St in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, helped Coleman gain an eye for streetwear and fashion as well. Coleman credits other Baltimore brands like Billions of Currency for not only showing him how to create quality product and market himself as a brand, but for also showing that anything is possible.