MEET DEVIN ALLEN
PHILANTHROPIST & PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE MOVEMENT
The Baltimore-native brings his city to life nationwide with a capsule collection and youth arts programming.
Devin Allen, a Baltimore native, has quickly become one of the foremost voices in the movement for Black lives. In the spring of 2015, with the death of Freddie Gray and tensions high in the city, Devin wanted to be a part of the movement. Having never photographed before, he instinctively picked up a camera to document the emotion, heartache, and anger in the streets. Since then, his work has resulted in two TIME magazine covers.
"Every day that I wake up, I have to understand that my career — all the things that I'm able to do now as a full time photographer — is built on the broken back of Freddie Gray."
He focuses on the community at-large, always keeping the streets that he grew up on in the forefront of his mind and his work, capturing the small moments as well as the big ones.
It's this kind of beat photography that has landed him a fellowship with the Gordon Parks Foundation, a partnership with Leica cameras, and over 150,000 followers on Instagram. He's built a portfolio of remarkable work that's been noticed the world over. And of course, was noticed internally by his co-workers at Under Armour.
"It was a regular day at work. I had a meeting with the design team who had an idea for Black History Month. The original concept was to highlight me, take my work on the city, on protests and Black Lives Matter… but anyone that knows me knows I'm not about the 'self'."
That original idea has now evolved into what we know today as the UNDR ARMR x DVNLLN Collection: a full-scale creative endeavor that is equal parts community development program and performance-based style collection from Baltimore, for Baltimore.
The capsule launch is a love letter to his beloved city from end to end. The team focused on the city's grime, grit, and spirit of resilience that Allen nurtures, with a minimalistic color palette echoing the streets and his photography.
Devin Allen’s original photography featured in the collection paints a vivid picture of what's at stake — the next generation of Baltimore.
“Thinking about the people to highlight, I didn’t care about popularity. I care about the people that are saving lives, making social change in Baltimore. People like Coach Mookie (aka Donnell Dobbins), who connects all the youth in basketball here. His longtime commitment to the community, to the people he loves — he’s doing good work changing the lives of those who always get counted out."
Thanks to people like Coach Mookie and the other incredible athlete partners in the program, the Baltimore community will be thoughtfully represented.
A key component of the collection are partnerships with Wide Angle Youth Media — a Baltimore-based nonprofit that emphasizes and encourages arts education for youth— and Noisy Tenants, a community-focused production agency that will walk local youth through the creative process, from idea to completion, of creating a mural which will represent Baltimore youth voices near Oriole Park.
Beyond the capsule, beyond the partnerships, this is just the beginning.
"I wanted people from places like Baltimore, Oakland, Chicago, and Detroit to be proud of their cities. Because our communities have so much to offer, so much to celebrate. Photography can open doors. By teaching kids how to document the world, express themselves, and capture what they see, we can strengthen their futures through art."