It may be shocking to some, but the south Bronx wasn’t always the emerging, cultural oasis that has captivated all of New York City; however, there was one individual that predicted its rise at the early age of eight, the ‘Style Monk,’ Jerome Lamaar.
If you weren’t already aware, Soundview’s favorite son has appeared on the cover The New York Times, designed marvelous wardrobes for A-list celebrities like Beyoncé, lived and travelled worldwide in the name of style and ruled the corridor of Bruckner Boulevard near the Third Avenue Bridge well before the rest.
Lamaar did so by bringing innovative elegance through a ‘South Bronx Luxe’ brand and concept clothing store called 9J at 41 Bruckner Boulevard some years ago, competing only with himself.
“Back then, people would think of the Bronx as a place people would go through and not to, and that’s what I wanted to change,” Lamaar said, noting the intention of exposing the borough’s beauty worldwide.
9J ended up accomplishing just that. Especially when that store incentivized Rihanna to come to, rather than go through, the Bronx, in addition to a plethora of other worldwide celebs and fashion aficionados worldwide.
“People that didn’t understand would say ‘Oh, the Bronx is burning’ and I would respond ‘Well my store isn’t,’” Lamaar said.
It was also through 9J that Lamaar initially opened up a gateway to the concept of a creative and stylish south Bronx community that now flourishes.
Along the way, he inspired some of the new commercial tenants on the block, like fellow clothing brand Bronx Native.
Lamaar decided to close down the successful business by his own choosing in February of 2018; doing so to pursue more personal projects along with DJing some Calvin Harris-influenced tracks for fun.
“I get asked all the time to reopen 9J, but it’s just not what I want to do right now,” he said.
Given that Lamaar travels worldwide, attending the Grammy Awards, Coachella for Google, Tribeca Film Festival for Airbnb and most recently the Met Gala’s after-party for nobody but himself, he just doesn’t have the time to spend in a store from dawn until dusk.
Nevertheless, this Renaissance man still utilizes an elegant and more private workspace at 2407 Third Avenue.
While the purpose of that space is for projects and work, the Style Monk also uses it for meditation.
“That’s where the term Style Monk actually comes from,” Lamaar said explaining that his success revolves around internal spirituality more than anything.
“It’s about finding balance, about learning and knowing yourself,” Lamaar said while discussing the complexity of living in the moment during overwhelming achievement.
With his 34th birthday beckoning in just three weeks, the Pelham Bayite’s next endeavor will be to publish a book by this time in 2020.
“It’s going to be more than self help, it’s going to be self elevation,” Lamaar promised.
Keep up with Jerome Lamaar by following his ever so growing Instagram: jeromelamaar.