5 Star Stories: Designer and celebrity tailor Patrick Henry’s tale of rags and riches

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 7:01 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Hollywood fashion designer Patrick Henry’s creations are worn by the likes of LeBron James and Justin Bieber but he credits his Mid-South roots with making him a global sensation. Another reason we love calling this place home. This 5 Star Story is a tale of rags and riches.

What do John Legend, Penny Hardaway and Justin Bieber all have in common? They rock Richfresh Bespoke clothing, by Memphis’ own Patrick Henry.

”I’m not just a tailor, I’m an artist first,” said Henry.

Action News 5′s Kontji Anthony zoomed with Fresh, as his friends call him at home in California.

”I just wanted to really show a true underdog story,” said Henry.

One that began as a middle schooler in Little Rock.

“I was terrible with girls and more so, I was just terrible with confidence,” he shared.

A cheerleader he was tutoring at the time gave him advice.

”She was like, ‘If you dress better, I think you would have the confidence level you’re looking for and I said, ‘What’s that called?’ And she said, ‘Fashion,’ so I said, ‘Cool, I might get into fashion,’” said Henry.

After a move to Memphis, he sewed in secrecy at Bolton High School.

”Sewing for me was pretty important,” said Henry. “That was my creative outlet. It was not the thing to do when I was growing up. My dad was military, old school so - not the thing - so I just had to keep it a secret.”

He also kept a 3.8 GPA but turned down scholarships to open a dry cleaner in the 100 block of G.E. Patterson in Memphis’ South Main Arts District.

When word got out about his tailoring talents he landed his first celebrity client.

”I tailored all of Isaac Hayes’ suits,” said Henry. “I didn’t make them, but when they didn’t fit, I was the one who made them fit.”

Looking for a challenge he moved to New York City and went to work for suit tailor Hickey Freeman.

”Real high-end pieces, lots of handwork, intricate, detailed tailoring. I’m the kid,” he said. “I’m in my mid-20s there sewing with all these 60-year-old and 70-year-olds, so I learned so much.”

The 2008 market crash sent him back home to Memphis, where he got custody of his 2-year-old daughter.

The single father says he needed to work from home.

”And built the bag brand right here in Memphis,” he said. “I probably went a whole year just making bags. It gave me the confidence, ‘You’re really big enough to compete on a big level, but you’re still so broke.”

With measuring tape in hand he moved to San Diego and then Los Angeles where he says he struggled with drugs and alcohol.

”All it took was a customer to not pay me money that was owed and I had used all my money to take care of the order to pay it off, and it just sent me down this spiral,” said Henry.

After three months of homelessness, Fresh says he had a God moment and promised to have more discipline.

”I had $300 in my pocket. My first million within 12 months,” he said.

By 2018, his Richfresh athleisure line was born.

”Just a luxury retake on what else would I wear when I’m not wearing a suit,” he recalled. “I like wearing this. So I just made clothes that I identify with.”

Fresh told me his ready-to-wear Binghampton collection was inspired by a youth church mission to the Memphis neighborhood.

”The streets were named Harvard and Stanford and Yale and it just bothered me. I couldn’t sleep. It just seems so like ironic it was such an oxymoron, like, how is it that there’s so much poverty, but the streets sound so prominent,” he said.

It was the pandemic that inspired his next creations transforming one of his production houses into a mask manufacturer.

”I bought that local production and then we ended up turning that factory into the Henry Mask factory,” said Henry.

His brother, Chase Morgan, is the other half of Henry masks.

You can’t walk a Hollywood or Memphis block for that matter without seeing one.

”I understand how products make people feel. My brother knows how to build out factories. So all I had to do really was come up with the concept of what the masks should look like,” he said.

For every mask sold, the brothers donate a mask to health care workers, front line workers and families in need -- a way to give back on a journey that, Fresh says, hasn’t been easy.

”We see people who are successful, and we have the misimpression that it was easy,” he said. “It was given, and they don’t really do a good enough job of letting us know otherwise.”

Fresh has Aspergers and considers himself an introvert despite his colorful Instagram persona.

He admits he couldn’t function well in a storefront setting.

”There’s no listed phone number, no address. The only way you can get in contact with me is finding me on Instagram and you’ve got to send an email and go through a process,” he said. “I might fly someone out to get measurements. You might not see me and spend $100,000 and never see me.”

For Fresh, his creations are his calling cards, each suit, or mask, not only inspired by his love for Memphis but also he hopes a source of inspiration for kids just like him back home.

”A lot of people look at the ability to sew and tailor as beneath them. I don’t want to be doing that,” said Henry. “So I wanted to really make it seem cool to just provide another option. Kids should have another option.”

We are proud to call Richfresh Memphis made.

These days, Richfresh and Henry have new factories with Memphis being one of their top-selling markets.

He says to look for his new Binghampton collection releases.

And he now has a women’s Bespoke line.

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