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Monday, September 27, 2021

‘We stay true:’ Always True attracts a following wherever they go

<p dir="ltr"><span>Drew Howard, 23, holds a jacket from his brand Always True, which is named after his late brother’s rap name. He runs the company with 24-year-old Kevin Masaro.</span></p><p><span> </span></p>

Drew Howard, 23, holds a jacket from his brand Always True, which is named after his late brother’s rap name. He runs the company with 24-year-old Kevin Masaro.

 

Kevin Masaro lifted his hand to glide a black Sharpie marker across a pair of jean shorts.

He saves the spray paint for when he feels wild, he said.

Drew Howard, 23, said he and Masaro, 24, have dreamt about doing what they’re doing now for the last three years. The friends, along with Howard's brother Sam Howard, founded the clothing and art brand Always True in 2015 with simple screen-printed T-shirts.

Always True began as a way for Howard to remember his brother, Brandon Howard, who died six years ago and went by the stage name Always True.

“His passion and his mindset and his philosophy on what he really loved to do inspired me to just do what I wanted to do with my life,” Howard said.

Now, the pair is focused on expanding a pop-up shop tour around the country.

The 17-day long Gainesville pop-up shop Howard and Masaro hosted at Blank Slate art gallery ended Sunday, but they have plans to continue appearing at local art shows and music events.

Always True will be at the Gainesville Downtown Festival & Art Show Dec. 1 and at a pop-up shop at Visionary Crossfit on Dec. 7, Masaro said.

The brand typically repurposes used clothing but will be releasing a larger collection of hand-painted artwork on new pieces of clothing, Howard said. The collection will be available online after Blank Slate’s pop-up ends.

Howard said his favorite part has been the unpredictability of their everyday lives. Although the pair used to work on half of a ping pong table in their basement, the brand has grown into a community, Masaro said.

Instead of working in their home workshop, Howard and Masaro traveled to a basement space in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for two weeks in July. Local musicians and artists came and went as they pleased.

Masaro said Always True turned the once empty space into a favorite hangout spot. Rappers and hip-hop artists spontaneously hosted three to four nighttime shows at the basement pop-up. Masaro said the honest, original way they’ve attracted a following in the cities they travel to is exemplary of their brand.

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They plan to bring that same sense of community here in Gainesville with their pop-up events.

“We stay true, as cliche as that may sound, but we just stay true to ourselves and make our own moves. The right people come our way and the right things always go down,” Masaro said.

Dominic Goldberg Transcript

Contact Angela DiMichele at adimichele@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @angdimi

This story has been updated to reflect there are three owners of the company and the owner's proper workspace. 

Drew Howard, 23, holds a jacket from his brand Always True, which is named after his late brother’s rap name. He runs the company with 24-year-old Kevin Masaro.

 

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