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Two Years After Taking His Cult-Favorite Streetwear Brand Off-line, Gianni Lee Is Back

Babylon Cartel's web site remains under construction, but Lee has been hard at work on another project: his second art show, coming to Los Angeles in May.

Photo by Maddie Cordoba for WWD

If you’re from Philadelphia, or follow sports, you’ve heard the phrase “trust the process.” It’s a reference to the 76ers and former general manager Sam Hinkie’s tanking strategy, which, in basic terms, was to do so horrendously, the team would get more picks in the NBA draft. That would then, in theory, allow the 76ers to piece together a championship-winning team, thus bringing long-awaited glory to the City of Brotherly Love.

The phrase has been widely embraced by Philadelphians and is now applied to things outside of the realm of sports. The Eagles winning the Super Bowl? A result of trusting the process. Applying to jobs straight out of college? Trust the process. Abruptly taking your celeb-loved brand off the Internet for two years without any notice? TTP.

“Me, I’m a process, I’m a late bloomer,” says Gianni Lee, founder of cult-favorite streetwear brand Babylon Cartel. Known for its jackets printed with Japanese writing, Lee’s brand has been worn by the likes of Rihanna, Kelly Rowland, Jaden and Willow Smith, Young Thug, Kyrie Irving, Kehlani and Jhene Aiko. Lee, who hails from West Philadelphia, started the label in 2008, but took it off the Internet in April 2016, a few years after he moved to Los Angeles.

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