Fresh off the release of their all-female playlist flameshit3.m3u, Cool&Well-Dressed is back with an exclusive single! This time around, C&WD linked with NC-based rap group Dacom Worldwide to bring us “Good Smoke”. Produced by Dre Rodner, “Good Smoke” tells the tale of why the rap duo indulge in 4/20 festivities on the regular. Roll one, spark it and reflect on life as you listen to “Good Smoke”. Be on the lookout for flameshit4.m3u (Prelude To The Funk Edition) coming soon.
“I hold a bitch up, like Simba. Then drop the hoe down like DECEMBA,”
Hopefully, you already know where that quote is from. If not, get hip. The quote is from $ilkmoney’s verse on Divine Council’s “Decemba Remix”, that features Andre 3000. 3 Stacks also directed the video for “Decemba Remix”, which is LIT. Richmond, Virginia-based group Divine Council consists of four members: $ilkmoney, Cyrax!, Lord Linco and producer IcyTwat. During a Pop-Up Meet & Greet in New York mid-December, the Council released a t-shirt collab with New Jersey-based streetwear brand Crucial Limited. Crucial and Divine linked back up for another collab that drops tomorrow! Below you can see the colorful hoodies that will be available Friday for $55 at http://CrucialLimited.com. Matthew Yoscary, Founder of Crucial Ltd., says “the idea came from $ilk’s love of cats. I just drew him as a cat, then the rest followed and the design came together. The Council are huge fans of bright colors, so we chose neon colors to print on.”
You have an important person in your life that loves streetwear? You want to introduce someone to some new, dope independent brands? Or you just want to give yourself a nice “thank you” Christmas present for being awesome? Check out the Cool&Well-Dressed Christmas Wish List!
Here’s a list of some of my favorite streetwear pieces available this holiday season:
Nudxty’s “Nudity” Pull Over Hoodie ($42) Nudxty.com
The Mstrplan’s “War Pig” Hoodie ($45) TheMstrplan.com
Runaway’s “Blacklist Santa” L/S Tee ($26) RunawayClothes.com
We’ve even linked up with some of the brands featured on the list for some ill coupon codes.
When you use coupon code “INFINITE” at checkout, you’ll receive:
– 10% OFF your purchase at TheMstrplan.com until January 31st
– 15% OFF your purchase at OdeClothing.com until January 1st
– 15% OFF select items at H33MINC.com until January 31st
– 10% OFF orders over $50 at CrucialLimited.com until December 19th
– 10% OFF your entire order at RunawayClothes.com until December 18th
– 15% off your order at Nudxty.com until 12/25
Often times it’s the person who looks least likely to be a power player, that is indeed holding all of the cards. Let’s face it. Our perception shapes our reality until we are proven otherwise. It’s not necessarily a negative thing. Perhaps it’s just human nature. If you’re a fan of defying the status quo, then you’ve got to love it when someone comes along and kicks normalcy in the mouth. Monica Lin depicts this scenario in more ways than one.
As the Marketing Director of Popular Demand, Monica has been charged with the task of knocking the industry door down and seeing to it that Popular Demand is mentioned in any conversation involving streetwear. At the young age of 25 and in a male dominated industry, Monica Lin has become a respected voice and an inspiration to industry hopefuls worldwide.
Like most Millennials, she’s used social media to create transparency between herself and followers who find pleasure in looking into her daily adventures. She’s more than a Popular Demand employee, she is a brand herself who has garnered a social following addicted to her every move. At first glimpse there are a few things for certain. She’s fly as hell, works her ass off, and has fun doing it. She answers career development questions from her fans day in and day out via DM, and she keeps the positive energy flowing.
Despite the transparency, few people know the behind the scenes story of the young woman from a tight-knit Taiwanese family; raised by her mother through a childhood cloaked in a love for streetwear and pop culture. Brave and assertive, this is someone who has habitually taken life into her own hands. No matter if that meant leaving home at the age of 17 or dropping out of college to pursue the career she leads now. This is the story of Monica Lin. I believe the saying goes, “You gon’ learn today!”
“I come from a Taiwanese family that’s super proud of our culture but at the same time, very open-minded. My cousins are all between the ages of 18-30 and our parents all raised us to be around each other constantly, so we’re still close to this day. I’m blessed that we were all raised to have diverse experiences and to be accepting of different cultures.”
Monica subconsciously grinned as she reminisced on the adults of the family taking her and her cousins to try a variety of different foods and divulge in a never-ending amount of ethnic enclaves. She recalled the freedom of never being pressured to pursue careers such as medical, legal, etc. that typical Asian families tend to push on their kids. She was always free to figure life out on her own.
That’s a major point that must not be ignored. The autonomy to take the world in for all it has to offer, and feel empowered to do what feels right intrinsically is the catalyst for greatness. Add the fact that Monica’s mother introduced her to streetwear at an early age and you’ve got the ingredients for a hot plate of dopeness. Monica attributes her love of streetwear to her mother’s early, and still present influence.
“My mom is super in tune with all that stuff. She was the first person to show me CDG. In Taiwan and Japan, they are ahead of the game in streetwear. She pays attention to pop culture to this day. She still shows me new stuff now. She’s very in the mix. I moved to Taiwan when I was 9 and lived there for 4 years. Being out there is pretty cool, a lot of the trends I saw ended up coming out in America like 3-5 years later. There are streetwear pockets like Soho and Fairfax in America, but over there they’ve always had young people who made it their life business to sell their own clothes and accessories. They started so early that they didn’t jump on the social media wave so they aren’t as big as they could be. If you pay attention to what’s going down out there, that’s what’s going happen in a few years. Most people don’t realize that a lot of trends come from there.”
As Monica grew older her natural interest in streetwear grew with her. As an adolescent she read blogs like Nitrolicious and took note of the fact that people were making true careers out of it. It made her hone in and pay attention to the culture as a student just as much as a fan. During her time in college she hung out on Fairfax frequently and kept up with brands and their owners knowing one day she’d be in the game herself. Of course, she didn’t imagine it would be to this magnitude. In the early days, she figured she’d just be blogging and taking pictures. A slight underestimation of her own potential but let’s forgive her for not knowing her potential right away.
Unsure of how or when she would break into the streetwear industry, Monica started where many creators do with her own blog.
“When you have a blog you have the potential to give other people a platform. Everything I learned about editing photos and writing came from my blog, teaching myself. I was using my blog to maximize my network and get into a lot of shows. I built a network off of it because people would want to hit me up when they were in town. At one point I met Ben Hundreds and Bobby Hundreds. They had a huge blog at the time; they took a pic of me and posted my blog. I had a big spike from that and a lot of people hit me up. One who did was my friend Philip. One day he told me this brand called Popular Demand was looking for interns and I researched, and saw that they were still brand new and growing. I was in school and working full time so I didn’t have time to intern for free. A little farther down the line they were looking for a marketing person. I reached out to hear more about it, it was entry level enough for me to have an opportunity.”
During the summer, Blake Ricciardi (CEO of Popular Demand) would bring Monica in to get her feedback. Her opportunity with the company grew from there as she interned for about a month. Laughingly, she recalled her first day.
“I showed up in a pencil skirt and a button up when we don’t even have a dress code. You can just show up with good ideas and make it happen. I kind of carved out my own role.”
For Monica, that meant getting the brand into the spotlight where young kids would pay attention. One sure way to accomplish that was to tap into music videos. Equipped with the companies 4 shirt styles and a steamer, she would go out to different sets to try and help out with wardrobe. After building enough contacts she created value for herself.
“A lot of people think networking is about what others can do for you when it’s about what you can do for others. One day a director named Fredo hit me up and asked me to come through a shoot. It ended up being the “Show Me How To Function” remix. Big Sean, Birdman, etc. was there. I was like “Oh shit this is my biggest shoot to date,” I was there for 14 hours in heels and since they didn’t have a stylist I was able be responsible for wardrobe. That was why I got hired. It gave me a chance to show Blake and everyone else my abilities.”
Blake made a safe bet on Monica, since becoming Popular Demand’s Marketing Director she’s pulled off activations and partnerships with the likes of Karen Civil, REVOLT, Def Jam, Puma, and plenty more. As she adds more wins to her list of career accomplishments, Monica still faces stereotypes, stigmas, fears, and insecurities just like the rest of us. All while growing her own exposure, and attacking new goals outside of Popular Demand. Here’s what she had to say about it all:
What about your relationship with your father, did he have any type of profound impact on you like your mother did?
“My confidence, my assertiveness, my resourcefulness, and my extroverted side are all thanks to my dad. My dad and I had a tough love relationship when I was growing up and nowadays, he is still a crazy ass person, but I appreciate him wholeheartedly. I definitely wouldn’t be who I am today without him.”
Why did you leave home at the young age of 17, and how did that experience mold you for the better?
“I won’t go too much into detail (maybe one day), but in short, I had to leave in order to take control of my own life. I packed three bags in the middle of the night, had my best friend Ashley pick me up, and then I never looked back. I got scholarships and educational grants that paid for my college tuition + dorms, which helped me out immensely for 3 years before I chose to drop out to pursue my career full time. Sometimes, it’s now or never and you have to have the balls to take that chance.”
What are some of the doubts or fears you have about your future plans, and what do you do to overcome that doubt?
“You can’t doubt yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? There will always be times when things don’t happen the way you envision it. It’s okay to have to take an alternate route to get to the end goal. I’ve learned that successful people aren’t the ones that are great at everything, they’re the ones that are great at adapting effectively.”
What are some preconceived notions that people may have about you and how do you go about proving otherwise?
“I guess I’m sort of an outlier in my industry. I’m a 5’2” Asian girl. Sometimes, people don’t respect me right off the bat because they don’t take women seriously. Once in a while, I come across people who stereotype Asians and think I’m probably shy and timid. I’ve been doing this for over 4 years now, I don’t really go out of my way solely to prove them wrong – I just do what I do and be myself.”
Most people might ask you to speak on the disadvantages you face in a male dominated industry. Are there any advantages that this gives you?
“I’m marketing a lifestyle and the product. Sometimes you look at a product and it’s dope. A year later you’re over it. For the retailers they still love it. I can’t let my personal stance override that. In terms of being a female in a male dominated industry, on one hand you have to work 5x harder because people won’t take you seriously. Sometimes people come in for meetings and don’t realize what my role is and shake everyone’s hand but mine. You have to make people take you seriously. I’m not here just to chill. On the other hand it helps because people remember me. There aren’t a lot of girls and there aren’t a lot of Asian women. We work closely with the music industry too and there aren’t a lot of Asian girls.”
What are some standout moments in your career thus far? Tell us about times when you succeeded, and failed. How did you use those moments to learn and grow?
“The things I am most proud of include being able to work with an incredible team at a company that we built from absolutely nothing. I get to work with extremely talented people across various creative industries, who are beasts at what they do and it’s inspiring to be around that all the time.”
How have you been able to utilize your own following to boost your efforts with Popular Demand?
“It’s a mixture of the brand and my personal self. I get opportunities outside of the brand. I’ve made myself a resource for other people. I reference Karen Civil and what she did with Beats. There are parallels between us. I give the brand a platform and use it as my platform as well. People ask how I built my following. Whenever influencers would ask how I built that, I just connected with influencers chop it up and they’d always take pictures with me and shout me out for helping them. Leverage what you have to offer and build genuine connections. Think about where you spend your time and allocate it wisely in terms of who you’re learning from. You can’t be out here saying yes to everything. Know yourself, know your brand and your story so you don’t sell out.”
As for right now, Monica appears to have found her sweet spot. She’s kicking ass at Popular Demand and every day is like a reality show. No seriously, they’re working on reality show. It’s one big family, and with that comes plenty of pro’s and con’s. The company is young with pretty much everyone being under 30, and they’ve literally grown their careers together; half of them dropped out of school to work at Popular Demand full time. Everyone wears multiple hats and plays a major role. So much that no one dares to take off for weeks at a time. Even when on vacation, everyone stays on call.
“You have to sacrifice personal time. Day-to-Day life involves everyone talking shit to each other all day. We all love food. Soon as we hit the office we’re plotting on lunch lol. It’s chill until after 12pm and then rappers and actors start showing up and it just gets crazy. Everyone gets their shit done there’s music blasting all the time.”
Popular Demand aside, we can expect way more coming from Monica. She’s helping to creative direct a women’s line for Karmaloop. She’s also working on a women’s sunglasses boutique. Not to mention her #ThundercupandFriends photo series where she reinvents anime cartoons that inspire her. She’s linked up with painters and graphic designers to create original work through it. Eventually, she wants to do an actual gallery showing.
As for the next 5-10 years Monica doesn’t have any concrete expectations. She just wants to continue doing what she’s doing and having a good time. In essence, she’s remaining true to the lessons she learned as a child. Keep an open mind, and find your way according to what moves you.
Want to learn more about Monica’s work and some streetwear industry advice along with it? Follow us on Twitter as she takes over for a live Snapchat Q&A session!
If you think you have an ill brand and wanna be featured, reach out man. If I fuck with the brand, we might be able to do somethin’; that’s what happened here. The east coast is back with another upcoming heavy hitter in the streetwear industry; Korrupt Designs. The New York-based streetwear brand kills shit at all levels; from cut and sew pieces to graphic tees. I got a chance to politic with Kevin Horvath, head of design and production at Korrupt. In this interview we discuss a fire proof windbreaker (this shit really exists), the pros to having a great work space/studio, the two-man team that keeps Korrupt running smoothly and a couple other dope topics.
Korrupt blessed us with a coupon code too. Use “cwd” at checkout to get 20% OFF!!
King Phill: Where did the name of the brand come from?
Kevin H.: I was young and looking back, I was going through a very rebellious phase. I came up with the name but didn’t want to make it so cliché, so I added the K because my name is Kevin haha. I didn’t know what was going to become of it, but as I worked towards it things became clearer.
King Phill: I feel you; some of the best shit comes from those rebellious times. You pulled any design influences from those times too?
Kevin H.: Yes, a lot of it does. My first piece ever was the Destroyer tee.
King Phill: That Destroyer tee (shown below) is very ill; what does the Kanji on the shirt say?
Kevin H.: It came from “DESTROY WHAT DESTROYS YOU”. The pattern says Destroy.
King Phill: That last collab you guys did with Amongst Others was ill; the “Prey For Reign” tee was my favorite out of the collection. Do you have any collabs in the works right now?
Kevin H.: Thank you very much and shout out to AMONGST. That’s family and more to come with them too. Hopefully we’ll have something worked up with Low Key Industries in the following months. It’s taking its time because were jammed packed with a lot of school work and personal projects; it’s coming along though.
King Phill: Dope; I already know that Low Key collab is gonna be crazy. It’s gonna be a whole collection or just one piece?
Kevin H.: Thank you man! It’s definitely going to be a few pieces.
King Phill: I saw what looked like a 3M windbreaker on the brand’s Instagram page; looked dope as hell. What was producing that piece like and when can we expect to see it released?
Kevin H.: Ah! That’s actually a technical fabric that is fire proof (shown above) hahahaha. There’s a whole collection behind that one windbreaker that was never fully released and documented. We’re definitely going to revisit that in the future, but for now it’s in the archives.
King Phill: Nice, that shit was dope as fuck. I can only imagine the visuals you could setup with a fire proof windbreaker. Are there a lot of 1 of 1 pieces that have just been archived until the right time?
Kevin H.: I know right! Yeah, honestly we do; actually, a piece with Low Key Industries that hasn’t been seen yet unless you follow me personally on Instagram.
King Phill: One positive thing I’ve noticed about a lot of independent brands these days is that they’ve really built a strong identity for themselves. Just by looking at the pieces and presentation, I can tell there’s a certain aesthetic attached to Korrupt Designs; what would you say that aesthetic is?
Kevin H.: I’d like to say it’s forward and silent. It has character, but many people haven’t seen that yet. It’s a growing brand that also grows with us, which is the best part.
King Phill: When do you think people will really start to pick up on the aesthetic of Korrupt or what do you think it takes for people to understand it?
Kevin H.: I feel like only so many will understand because, not to be so cliché but, it’s more than clothing; it’s a mentality.
King Phill: How big is the team behind the brand?
Kevin H.: It’s me and my brother in a basement that we’re slowly converting to a full-functioning studio. We deeply believe in being self-sufficient. Shoutout to our great friend Milo Selchaif who has gave us his time and photography talent to make visuals come true since day one.
King Phill: That’s ill. I like when there aren’t too many heads in on an operation. That studio sounds dope too. What essential pieces or areas do you think you’ll need to have a fully functional studio?
Kevin H.: Yes, it gives us more much more freedom. I’d say owning everything from a camera and camera equipment to printers; oh and of course knowing how to use it. It just gives you that much more leverage not having to rely on someone else.
King Phill: Do you think it’s more effective to drop seasonally based collections or a couple pieces whenever?
Kevin H.: What I’ve learned is that CONSISTENCY is key. The more active you can be the better. It will add substance, flow and structure. Right now, we’re focusing on two folders: Branding and Concepts; one gives your brand the image and the other gives it character.
King Phill: I agree completely. So you’re more leaning towards the releasing a couple pieces “whenever” versus keeping it strictly seasonal drops?
Kevin H.: Yes, I agree to a couple pieces whenever, but having consistency and not leaving large gaps between drops.
King Phill: What’s the concept behind the “Forever Always” capsule collection?
Kevin H.: Well, a lot of my work stems from my personal life and experiences. Forever Always is a group of us. We’re just very true to ourselves and we stick to the plan; no matter what’s in our way. Eyes wide -Mouth shut – Ears open.
King Phill: So the concept of “Forever Always” stemmed off from the morals and values amongst your clique or group of friends?
Kevin H.: Yes, absolutely; fundamentals of life.
Korrupt Designs: Instagram | Twitter
Kevin Horvath, Head of Design & Production: Instagram | Twitter
There’s some real gems in this interview; hope you guys are receptive to them. Very glad I got this interview too; been watchin’ this brand for a while, Low Key been really killin’ shit out here. The Denver, CO-based streetwear brand is one of the most innovative brands I’ve watched and they execute everything from such a genuine place. In this interview, I speak with Drew S., Designer of Low Key Ltd., about the importance of quality in Low Key’s garments, how he translated his time in jail into the “Crimewave” collection, an upcoming feature on Highsnobiety and a couple other dope topics. I’ll say it again to make sure you readers understand; A LOT of dope knowledge in this interview; read up.
King Phill: How long has Lowkey been around? Do you think the position you’re in now is exactly where you would’ve expected to be with the brand from the beginning?
Drew S.: I would have never thought this brand would be where it is currently. I always like to take a realistic approach to life so I never get disappointed; I try to keep that mindset with the brand. I always have the urge to make things better and better, learning from mistakes along the way. So far we’ve only formally made five or six capsules over a span of two years, and the fact that we’ve made such a strange impression on the streetwear scene is weird to me, but I love the reactions and fanbase we have as a brand. Our demand for certain products has far surpassed our availability to supply, as everyone involved in Low Key Industries is a student, me included as I’m on-track to have my bachelors in Digital Design here in the next year. It’s a labor of love, and as much as I do it because I feel like I simply have to, I wouldn’t be anywhere without the support from our core fans. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from, as long as you’re interested in being you, I think Low Key can help you achieve that. As a young brand, we still have a lot of direction and potential to utilize, and I truly hope that more and more people are able to connect to it as others have over the last few years.
King Phill: That’s crazy bro, in a positive way; I thought Low Key had been around for a while given the presence it’s developed. Your story is very positive and inspiring. What words would you have for anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps creatively?
Drew S.: My usual words of advice are “don’t.”, but don’t let that discourage you. You just really need to establish yourself as a brand. Read about brand matrices, learn about traditional clothing manufacturing processes, what a FOB is. All of these things are google searches away. I’m just tired of seeing shit printed on Gildan or pre-made shirts and trying to sell for way too high. There’s a reason I make everything from scratch, I don’t wanna print on blanks. Our garments are one-of-a-kind, and I intend to progress that mentality. This industry is tough, a lot of resellers wanna make their own stuff but have no creativity, and even celebrities making stuff now doesn’t make it interesting to me. Support grassroots, independent brands that are going out of their way to create a better future for street fashion. You’ll find yourself much more pleased at your clothing collection knowing that you’re probably the only one rocking it for miles, especially if it’s an internationally coveted item.
King Phill: I can feel that you guys take the craftsmanship of your pieces very seriously, even down to the blanks; you’re not using the lower quality blanks some brands do. How important is quality to you guys in all aspects of design?
Drew S.: As both a Clothing and Graphic Designer, I think that just printing graphics on pre-made garments is accessible (which is why you see so many emerging, and subsequently dying brands), but in order for a clothing company to be something special at its core, you have to focus on the fabrics and the process. I think the term “Blank” is too commonly thrown amongst the streetwear world. We actually don’t use blanks, all of our hoodies are completely hand designed, measured, and manufactured. There’s a labor of love hidden behind streetwear in the craft itself and I really like that. Streetwear almost owns that it’s not fashion, as much as it has become, because it doesn’t have to be designer-quality to become popular or considered well-made. I spend a lot of time making sure each garment we produce has a feeling of originality and meaning to it as soon as you pick it up. It’s not overstated or anything, we simply want to make clothes that are simple and well-made as far as construction. After going through a pretty intense fashion program hosted by HighSnobiety and Virgil Abloh, I’ve realized streetwear is much, much more than just “making stuff”. Seeing these people in the industry really taking the time to refine their details is incredibly important to me as a designer, and you can expect the level of quality to go up even further as the brand continues to progress.
King Phill: Yup, I completely agree; you nailed that shit. I really like that you put that much attention and work into your pieces. You referenced that Highsnobiety and Virgil course; I saw that online too, it’s ill that you were a part of it. How was that as an experience? What else did you learn from it?
Drew S.: Actually you’ll be the first to know we just got announced as being picked up by High Snobiety for a feature on us that’s dropping in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for that. The program was tough and sometimes disheartening, but you really gotta be crazy to manage and own a brand like this. You gotta be able to hate yourself and love yourself equally in order to get to the next step and the next step. If there’s anyone interested in the courses they’re teaching and you’re really serious about making clothes, I would recommend it. I learned a lot of stuff most people would take years to discover, but that’s all I can say. Shout out to Virgil from OFF-WHITE, Fats Sharif, Mike Cherman from ICNY, and everyone else for taking the time to mentor the next generation of designers.
King Phill: What’s the thought process behind developing a theme for a collection? “Stealth Corps” is an ill concept, it just sounds right.
Drew S.: Developing a theme for a collection is definitely a process for me. It’s hard to nail down an overlapping theme for our capsules right away, so I typically try to design away from these constraints at first and design openly; leaving my imagination to wander and then developing the collection based off a series of ideas or images that inspired me. The SS16 02: STEALTH CORPS collection was one I had been thinking about for a long time, but it was always sort of on the back-burner as we were developing our other collections. The concept of urban movements has always been extremely influential to me as someone who has always been in the city, grew up painting a lot of graffiti and exploring the underbelly of these environments. Juxtaposing that dark, concrete jungle idea with very neat and militant apparel was a theme I thought I had to do otherwise it would always haunt me in the future. It was the first collection where we designed bottoms, the Tech Sweatshorts, and put an incredible level of detail and technology into the clothes. The anorak is one of a kind, featuring cuts and fits that are rather nontraditional for the silhouettes. The Tee is even constructed out of moisture-wicking fabrics, making the whole fit extremely functional and versatile, something we as a brand have never dipped our feet into as an independent brand.
King Phill: That’s so dope man. I love when pieces are aesthetically pleasing AND functional. Do you have the theme for the next collection already mapped out or are you still plottin’ on that one?
Drew S.: I actually have about 2 1/2 seasons mapped out, just not put into production. We got hit with some heavy credit scammers over the summer and are trying to recoup from that fiasco. I’m thinking about opening Pre-Orders on sold out items that a lot of people weren’t able to get their hands on in the meantime, so everyone keep an eye out for that. There’s a newsletter on our webstore that will notify you of anything we do. Here’s a sneak-peek of what we have in the works.
King Phill: What made you decide to go with producing an Anorak, t-shirt and shorts for the “Stealth Corps” collection?
Drew S.: For the first time, I wanted to make a capsule that incorporated pieces that could stand on their own, but could also be purchased together as an entire outfit. When you see all the pieces next to each other, you really start to understand the theme behind the collection. It wasn’t so much of a forced thing as it was an organic path of creation. In my mind I was thinking “Ok, it’s summer, so shorts would make sense, but we’ve never produced bottoms, what would those look like? What if we created layers to these pieces so they all fit together like a puzzle? What if we explored fabrics in greater detail?”. I really like genre-bending in streetwear culture, and making items that can be universal. It all came to the crossroads between athletic, graphic, minimal, and casual. It really was able to encompass our core brand values while keeping the box open as always to new or different approaches.
King Phill: The collection is incredible; good shit. I saw a 3M Mesh 5-Panel that looked like it would fit into the collection too. Is that releasing at a later date or was that just a sample piece?
Drew S.: Haha, funny story about that. That WAS a sample, and then we ordered them to be embroidered and labeled to send out to retailers and online, but the person who was going to embroider them robbed us of the hats. We’re still trying to file a police report, but in this business you gotta take L’s. I apologize to everyone who was looking forward to those, I wish I could have released them with the rest of the Stealth Capsule. That’s what I get for trying to do stuff locally I guess.
King Phill: Damn, I hope everything goes well man; fuck that guy. Can we ever expect any marijuana-inspired pieces? Lowkey is based in Colorado and I saw some fat blunts gettin’ smoked in the past lookbook pics.
Drew S.: I think the Peer Pressure cap from our Nostalgia collection will likely be the closest thing we make referencing drugs or drug culture, it was meant to be more of an homage to growing up; getting passed a joint or a cigarette for the first time, hence the name of the piece. Colorado is, of course, notorious for its weed culture, but I’m a strong believer that weed should be smoked and not worn, haha. The whole Low Key Industries team smokes a lot, especially together, but it’s just an accessory to a situation, never the focus. Growing up in Nebraska, weed was and still is super criminalized, so moving here to pursue a career in design came with the perks of having weed be a casual thing. In my personal opinion, heavy drug references on clothing are tacky.
King Phill: Word, I definitely feel that. Drug references can get played out quick if they’re not done right. You guys have any events coming up? I can already tell a Lowkey Industries party would be ill.
Drew S.: I try to avoid them if at all possible. There’s enough brands doing that and I’ll happily leave that niche alone. There might be some upcoming graphics referencing addiction, so stay tuned for that. As far as Pop-Ups, we did one back at Station Denver for our first SS16 drop and it went REALLY well; I planned that out a lot. We’ve moved to a more versatile and bigger space recently for our retail space so we definitely are working on something super over-the-top; it’s all in the preparation.
King Phill: What qualities that Lowkey possesses do you think keep customers coming back?
Drew S.: I like to think that our clothes tell stories and each garment in each collection is like a page in a book. They can stand on their own very well, but having the whole collection in hand is an intimate feeling. I put a lot of thought into cohesion and emotional connection to the graphics. I want to make the customers feel like they’re buying into themselves and not a brand. For instance, the Nostalgia collection was all initially based on feelings that I had as a kid, reading comic strips and staying up late to watch anime or just the general feeling of connecting to your childhood. The Crimewave collection was a similar process. I had recently gotten out of jail at the time and was really pulling toward that feeling of the powerlessness bad choices can create. There’s a lot of deep references in my designs that I think a lot of people miss. Everything I make serves a specific purpose or story and I hope our fans can connect to that as opposed to a lot of other brands that rely on trends or hype-value to grow.
King Phill: Nice bro and I’m glad you’re out now; stay out haha. That’s the hard part for a lot of my friends; staying out. Do you think your fans/customers connect to the realness of the brand? They may not even know your story, but, I’m under the strong assumption, that they feel a level of authenticity that might not be matched by other brands around. Like a lot of other brands might create a collection based off a famous person dealing with bullshit from the law, but you’re creating from a personal experience.
Drew S.: Yeah I intend to stay out. I got 4 felonies dropped down to 2 misdemeanors, so I definitely got lucky in that sense. Jail was weird for me, I probably looked like a school shooter or something, but I was in there for long enough to where the days felt like weeks. God bless my girlfriend for bailing me out of that shit-hole. All they played was Telemundo. As far as the clothes, I don’t put out anything that I can’t emotionally react to. I think it gives the clothes more meaning than just being hype items. I get a lot of inspiration from Bill Watterson and Nietzsche philosophy; life is short, have fun, we are our own environments. I like being able to pick up clothes and feeling a connection to the graphics and fabrics, kind of like staring at a Rothco for too long; you get lost in your own head. I think it’s important to be able to wear something that makes you comfortable alone and in public. Maybe someone will see the message I’m sending (and in turn that they’re sending) and reflect on themselves. It’s not an exact science, I just want to make people “feel”. Streetwear nowadays is all about flexing on expensive names and logos. I get it, but as a designer I strive to push it further than that. Having a background in poetry and art certainly helps me turn my emotions into a fabric-based outlet. Look good, feel good, right?
In the midst of going through my own process of self-discovery and self-acceptance, a late night session of Instagram roaming somehow led me to StyleLikeU’s profile. A familiar face from the fashion industry caught my eyes, the caption caught my attention, and led me to a YouTube page that resonated with my heart. Here was a page where they were taking style beyond the surface,and sometimes shallow, definition. Over the following nights I lay in bed glued to StylLikeU’s YouTube page, watching videos of various individuals sit in front of a camera and be vulnerable as they talked about what past challenges, successes, and experiences have impacted who they are and what they chose to put on their bodies. I was unaware I had just become another supporter of StyleLikeU’s on-going global movement.
As I watched each video with a different subject (from fashion, film, theater, music, creative arts industries, etc.) spilling out the truth about their personal experiences, their identity, and how it influences their style, I was able to learn things about people who I may have never met. I was able to gain insight on how we all share common vulnerabilities no matter how different we are, be encouraged by people who have been through circumstances similar to mine, and find strength or compassion in their stories. Some of them were people whose work I looked up to, some I was just being introduced to via this YouTube page.
StyleLikeU is the brainchild of mother-daughter duo, Elisa Goodkind & Lily Mandelbaum. Their What’s Underneath series, literally peels back the layers of each person they interview, by asking questions which cause them to reveal their personal story and what has impacted who they are on the inside and outside today. While doing so, each subject removes all of their clothing-piece by piece-to get down to the bare truths and discover what the body carrying their style truly means to them.
Stop and think. When you pass someone on the street, can you tell what their story is just by looking at their appearance? What does your style really say about you? How does what you wear on the outside reflect who you are on the inside? Are you being authentic or presenting a false image of yourself to the world just to fit in? Take it a step beyond your clothes, and consider how your personality, beliefs, and past experiences play into your style. How you dress yourself is your armor. Elisa & Lily have spent the last few years getting under people’s armor and capturing it all on film.
“Underneath every person’s clothing, no matter how different we might appear, lies a universal struggle for self acceptance. True self acceptance is the bravery to be in this world exactly as you are and not in the image of others.” –Elisa & Lily
It started when Elisa realized her successful 20-year career as a fashion stylist was losing its luster. To her, the industry seemed to have become about facade over art, magazines began picturing the same 5 faces and designers on covers repeatedly, and the industry was not portraying what she believed to be an accurate view of positive beauty standards to young women like her daughter Lily.
In 2009, Elisa gave up her career and her daughter, Lily, gave up her lifestyle of constant dieting to fit the industry mold. They picked up a home camera and documented exactly what is behind the style of people who may not fit the industry standard. With each interview, closet haul, and What’s Underneath segment, they’ve uncovered how “our identity extends way beyond our clothes”.
Along the way, What’s Underneath explores truths and myths about cultures, race, sexuality, gender, beauty, effects of our childhood, rape, disabilities, mental health, and STDs. They give viewers an opportunity to briefly walk in another person’s shoes. See the world from behind the eyes of another person. See the strength in their vulnerability and gain strength by hearing the story of someone that may be similar to yours.
While featuring familiar names and faces including model Shaun Ross, fashion activist/model Bethann Hardison, celebrity stylist Lysa Cooper, OITNB’s Lea Delaria, Fashion Director/Designer Kevin Stewart, and writer Ryan O’Connel, we’re introduced to a host of amazing individuals who may be flying under our radar.
What started as a pursuit to find a voice among the roaring of the industry liberated not only Elisa and Lily, but others too. They’ve left a lasting effect on everyone who has sat in front of the What’s Underneath camera and the people who have heard the stories. StyleLikeU celebrates those whose inner spirit influences their style and who don’t fall into the trendy trap of “an army that looks like the same”. This is for people who welcome style as a true artistic representation of themselves.
When you create from your heart and with genuine purpose, it speaks to people, so it’s no surprise StyleLikeU’s work has received not only media coverage, but a supportive fan flowing of people who they have inspired…and even moved to tears. What’s Underneath is a movement.
They’ve recently gained a partnership with Allure magazine. As a team, they’ve challenged more stereotypes head on. The first collaboration, the Dispelling Beauty Myths series shares the experiences of women over the age of 50 choosing to age gracefully, women who wear their body hair proudly, and individuals living in the middle of the world’s gender identity debate. Their second collaboration with Allure, Mothers and Daughters, explores the dynamics of self-esteem and individuality.
The series has already been filmed in several cities including New York, Los Angels, and London, capturing inspiring stories along the way. Their next goal is to bring us a full length documentary capturing how What’s Underneath became the inspirational viral video series that has pushed a global movement of self-acceptance. The documentary is already in progress with $135,655 worth of donations from a month long Kickstarter campaign.
Watch their mission statement and catch their most recent video: Michaela Angela Davis: Celebrating Her Race & Age with Fiery Truth (& a Tight Slip Game)
The way I found this brand was crazy, man; real universal alignment shit. I had been looking at AUTHNTC, the Las Vegas-based streetwear brand, for a while. A couple months ago I hosted a listening party for my homie Caterpillar Jones. He’s from North Carolina, but he’s also lived in Vegas. While we were at the listening party, we started talkin’ streetwear (cause that’s what fresh niggas do), then AUTHNTC was naturally brought up in the conversation; I took that as a sign that I needed to reach out. One thing I love the most about AUTHNTC is the brand’s identity; they really care about their image and it’s apparent. In this interview I got to speak with Miah M., Co-Owner of AUTHNTC, about their popular “God The Plug” design, their recent pop-up shop, their level of exclusivity with limited pieces and a couple other dope topics.
King Phill: Are you guys fairly new or you’ve been around for a couple years?
Miah M.: I wouldn’t say we’ve been around, nor would I say we’re new. We’ve been at it for four years now, but only now are people getting to know us and are we getting more exposure.
King Phill: Did you guys come out of the gate with that identity we spoke on earlier or did it take those four years to really build out and craft an identity for Authntc?
Miah M.: We wanted the brands image to come naturally. We wanted it to be personal and reflect our own lives and likings. I wouldn’t say it took us four years to craft our identity; it took us four years to try to master our identity.
King Phill: I can’t put a distinct finger on the identity of the brand, but I love it; Authntc puts a certain energy in the air with it’s pieces. What do you feel the brand’s identity is?
Miah M.: You’ve seen that guy who knows how to skate really well, but knows how to dress really well too? Let’s just say a skate rat who’s wearing Saint Laurent or whatever; that’s Authntc. It’s where the street/urban culture meets the couture/luxury culture.
King Phill: It looks like the “God The Son. God The Father. God The Plug.” design garnered a lot of attention for the brand; all the pieces with that design look pretty ill. What’s the concept behind that design?
Miah M.: Thank you! Many might not know, but I come from a religious background; I grew up in church. Over the past year, I’ve realize God is the plug. Not only have I seen him grant prayers in my own life, but I’ve herd of many people thanking him for what he has done. The holy trinity is also one that many are aware of when it comes to Christianity. It just felt right putting the two together when we were creating the design.
King Phill: What’s the concept behind the “As I Overcome” collection? Where’d the name come from?
Miah M.: As I overcome, is prayer. “Help us overcome the trials and tribulations in this life. For this is the land where we dance with the devil. As I overcome, let me be the wolf who leads wolves not a pack of sheep. For this is my prayer, Let us come into the palace to rest… we have become nothing but damaged goods.” It’s a prayer for help and guidance to overcome; that is where the name of the capsule collection comes from, “as I overcome.”
King Phill: How did the Pop-Up Shop & release event go?
Miah M.: Our recent pop up/event released went well! A good amount of people came out and showed love. It was very humbling for us!
King Phill: Nice, the setup looked dope on Instagram. What imagery were you going for with that installation?
Miah M.: Thank you, I appreciate that! The installation was conceptualized to hopefully duplicate the same environment that a person would see if he or she visited the courtyard of a mental institution. That explains the TV set up, chess board game in the middle of the room and hand-painted pieces such as the “counting days” piece.
King Phill: I’ve also noticed Authntc hasn’t released any collabs. Are there any on the works or you guys just plan to not do any?
Miah M.: Yes, no collaboration projects yet nor do we plan to do any soon. Right Now we are concerned on personal growth.
King Phill: A lot of brands take that route; it’s always important to get yourself straight before you throw anyone or anything else into the equation. Are you open to collabs in the future?
Miah M.: Of course! Donnie and I always talk about collaborations and the brands that we want to work with; it’s just a matter of time and planning.
King Phill: How do you feel about producing limited quantity pieces versus larger quantity pieces?
Miah M.: My co-owner Donnie and I always frowned at looking like everyone else. Finding yourself wearing the same thing as someone else just makes you feel less “cool.” Producing limited quantities helps produce the cool, exclusive factor in someone’s style. There is a greater value in exclusivity than in the mass produced.
King Phill: I definitely feel you on that. What are some of the most exclusive pieces you’ve released? I saw this ILL Native American skull vest on your IG; looks crazy.
Miah M.: Thank you! The “Dead Man” BDU Vest has not released yet! More info on that particular piece will be out soon to the public. All of our collections/releases are released in limited quantities. The most exclusive releases we had yet were the “God The Plug” coach jacket and our hand distressed & painted BDU jacket. We got so many people asking and emailing us if were going to restock anytime soon and we said no.
I already let y’all know a while back that diamonds are forever. Now I’m back with a whole different perspective on the brand! This summer, my homie and colleague Jeff L., Co-Founder of Charlotte, NC-based blog & lifestyle brand The Clean Slate 704, interned with Diamond Supply Co.’s Design & Development team. During his time with the company, he learned a lot about the industry and experienced even more. In this interview, we speak on his time at the Los Angeles flagship store, the creative environment at Diamond, a usual day at the office and some other ill topics.
King Phill: What’s a usual day like working at Diamond? Cause I know you were between the headquarters and the flagship store in LA right?
Jeff: Yes, I interned at the headquarters and I worked at the LA flagship. I loved working at both for different reasons. I love working at HQ, but I love Fairfax because it’s in the mix. I love connecting with people and Fairfax is kinda like a tourist attraction, so I meet so many people from other countries, different backgrounds. Anybody who’s of the culture comes to Fairfax when they come to LA, so you never know what influencer or rapper may walk into the shop.
A day at HQ is always eventful just because of the knowledge I pick up on a daily basis. It’s a very relaxed environment both at the store and HQ. Retail and design go hand in hand in my opinion, so I’m glad that I can kinda fall right in between.
King Phill: What responsibilities were you given with your position as a Product Design Intern?
Jeff: It can range from a lot. From designing graphics, putting together tech packs, assisting the product development team or sometimes simply keeping the sample racks together and in order. Sometimes I dabble into other things around the office, but for the most part, that’s it.
King Phill: Word, sounds ill. That tech pack shit ain’t no joke. What were some of the hardest tasks you had to complete during your internship?
Jeff: The hardest task I had to complete was doing graphics for the annual sales catalog. It was a few hundred designs that I had to do it for, different color ways, etc. I had to have it done on a deadline in time for the trade shows. I stayed in the office overtime for a few days to complete this task.
King Phill: Word, they had you in there crankin’ out that work bruh; good shit. What’s the craziest shit that’s happened since you’ve been working with Diamond?
Jeff: Man, to me, this whole experience of working with Diamond has been crazy. This is the brand that put me onto streetwear culture in a way, so just being able to pick up the knowledge from a brand of this caliber is so mind blowing to me. I was always a fan of how they mixed skate culture, street culture, music culture and Nick’s lifestyle all into one; just understanding that it takes a strong team to do all of this and make sure things run smooth.
King Phill: I saw that you helped with styling lookbook shoots too. What’s your creative process with that?
Jeff: When it comes to stuff like that, I more so am just there to offer my opinion or assist with steaming and stuff of that nature. I observe a lot when I’m around this environment. One thing I learned that’s key to styling is making sure you’re telling a story with the looks you’re putting together; making sure everything makes sense, presentation wise.
King Phill: How was the Agenda Tradeshow? I saw you flexin’ on snapchat.
Jeff: Hahaha man, Agenda was lit. This was my fourth year going, but my first year on the brand side of things. It was dope observing the whole sales process, seeing which products the buyers from stores were picking up the most and which ones they shied away from; stuff like that helps me as a designer. I also have relationships with other brands, so I went around to their booths. Great place to network if you’re trying to get into streetwear. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t be working for Diamond if it wasn’t for going to Agenda those three years.
King Phill: Nice, I still haven’t had a chance to cross a couple Tradeshows off my list. What brands do you think had the best booths this year?
Jeff: Definitely Rare Panther, The Hundreds, and CLSC; I’m referring to Long Beach’s Agenda as well. Rare Panther had an installation set up, but didn’t show any clothing. The Hundreds booth was blacked out in honor of their new wildfire theme. CLSC’s booth was dedicated to this shoe collab that they had coming up; only the one shoe was shown. The rest of the booth was themed out in relation to the shoe.
King Phill: What’s your favorite collab you’ve had a hand in, is coming out soon or has already been released? That Ham On Everything L/S (shown below) was CRAZY.
Jeff: The pink joint! The event for that collab was dope too. I can’t really speak on too much though, but there is one collab in specific that I had a hand in creating concepts for. It happens to be one of my favorite members out of a well-known rap group.
King Phill: Ahhh, I feel you; can’t let the secrets out too early. What are some of your favorite pieces that are out now or coming soon, that you can speak on, that you had a hand in designing?
Jeff: Nothing that I had a hand in is out now, but I did have my hand in some things for upcoming season releases.
King Phill: Could you see yourself having a permanent position on the Diamond Supply Co team?
Jeff: Definitely! I love all of the folks at Diamond. I love the environment. It’s like a family vibe; great work atmosphere. I’m about to go back and finish out my last year of school and focus in on my brand (@TCS704), but coming back to Diamond once I graduate is definitely on the horizons for sure.
King Phill: What do you think were some best lessons you learned while working at Diamond?
Jeff: Diamond gave me an opportunity to not only learn about design, but also the business side of the fashion industry: Retail, collaboration breakdowns, wholesale, how to communicate with manufacturers, etc. I also learned that it takes a strong team for things to move smoothly. Diamond Supply has an excellent team and everyone there is good at what they do.
King Phill: Truly, it’s always best to get that hands on experience with anything. That business side is no joke; it separates the boys from the men, haha. What are the creative vibes like out in LA versus North Carolina? We both from NC and that’s home, but I always love being in a new creative environment.
Jeff: I agree. Being out here in LA puts me in a whole new place, creatively. My mind is a lot freer out here. I’m far away from everything. My creative mind is at its best when I have a free mind. I’ve came out here and brushed up my skills as far as design is concerned. The stuff I’ve been designing out here is my best work to date, I believe. We’re gonna be dropping a collection of Clean Slate stuff that’s been designed while I’ve been out here, late August. Close out the summer on a good note.
King Phill: Nice nice, any tips for anyone planning a trip to the west coast?
Jeff: Definitely get out to Fairfax, La Brea and Melrose for that street culture; that’s where all the cool shops are. Eat you some good food. Go out to Hollywood and Koreatown to party; just soaking in LA is so wavy. It’s a different vibe out there.
If many of us are honest, when it comes to responsibly made clothing and eco-fashion, we are often excited about the creativity and idea of helping our planet, but resistant to the idea of wearing the clothing out of fear it won’t be fashionable, wearable, or affordable. If you have already joined or are interested in joining the eco-fashion movement, you may find it difficult to locate clothing and resources that won’t force you to sacrifice your personal style, break your pocket, or completely inconvenience your current lifestyle. Responsibly made fashion shouldn’t be intimidating, seem inaccessible, or exclusive. It should be fun and creative for us all, buyers and designers alike.
To address questions consumers and designers have about eco-fashion, I met up with Beth Stewart at a quiet local coffee shop in Raleigh, NC, right across from NC State’s campus. We chatted about her organization, Redress Raleigh and their mission to “nurture independent designers and educate people about the impact of their purchasing decisions”. She shared her excitement about their approaching annual fashion show, the birth of the organization, goals they’re reaching in the eco-fashion community, and how we can all take small baby steps towards making our wardrobes more “green”.
The way we think about apparel is changing as leaders pop up in the industry pushing us to consider our clothing as more than merely something to put on our bodies or a fashion statement, but to consider it a statement of our beliefs. Redress Raleigh advocates for that type of change in Raleigh, joining a host of like-minded designers and organizations around the globe. Just as our wardrobe allows us to express who we are, it also allows us to practice caring for the world we live in.
Since 2009, Beth Stewart and the Redress Raleigh team have been providing designers in the area with a platform to showcase their collections, while also developing their business skills by linking them with priceless education and mentorships.
It all started as just an idea, when Beth realized that although the fashion industry was providing us with beautiful garments and fantasy, it was missing an important focus on the real life impact clothing has on the earth and people. Redress held its first fashion show in 2009, with twelve featured designers and a venue all in place, yet they weren’t even sure if anyone would attend. To their surprise, the room filled to capacity, helping Redress realize the public is not only interested in the creativity behind responsible or eco fashion, but many people would also like to be educated about its behind the scenes process and impact.
What originated as just a side project led to Beth discovering her passion, going back to her alma Marta NC State University to obtain a Masters in Textiles, leaving a 5 year career in architecture behind, and living by the motto of “let your creativity work for you”.
Sustainable living has become more mainstream, especially in the food industry, with the popularity of organic, local, vegan, and other diets. We’ve also seen an increase in solar power, hybrid vehicles, and recycled materials being utilized around us. Redress teaches us how to transfer that thinking into fashion and to just #GiveADamn about the true cost of our clothing-how it was made, who made it, and how it impacts the environment.
Redress considers three categories when selecting designers. They must be:
Innovative- Fashion forward & look cool. Be something people want to wear.
Wearable- Made out of actual textiles. No plastic bags or anything else sown into a dress.
Accessible- Everyday people can wear it, afford it, and see the quality.
As Redress educates us-the consumers-the designers are also learning. Realizing it’s just as important to feed the business thinking side of the brain as it is to feed the creative spirit, Redress provides designers with a required three month education program focusing on business skills development, which simultaneously allows them the added benefit of coming to class in person to build relationships with one another and learn from each other. Additionally, each designer is paired with a mentor from within the industry from whom they receive relatable advice and guidance.
After each designer’s last look walks down the runway, there’s the daunting question of “What’s next?” The Redress team does their ground work by constantly searching for clothing manufactures and seeking out the customer base to link designers with. When asked about the future of eco designers, Beth said, “In order to make a difference, we need people doing production and reaching more consumers. We want designers to grow after the show”. She’s even excited about what news of the opening of New South Manufacturing, a new cut & sow factory in Raleigh means for the city.
This year, six special designers showed their collections at the CAM Raleigh Museum-a newly renovated warehouse, with features that perfectly matched the aesthetic of the designs. Seeing the looks move on the runway allows attendees to see how wearable the clothes are and realize eco-fashion isn’t some unobtainable world that won’t fit in with their current style.
When asked about how Redress will continue to grow and cater to both designers and consumers, Beth said, “Moving forward as a non-profit, we’ll be having a lot more events involving the public and get people involved with growing with us.”
Now, it’s time to figure out which one of Beth’s tips for “greening” your wardrobe you can start using today:
Stop buying fast fashion. Period. There are so many other places to buy like consignment and resale shops. Particularly in Raleigh, there are a lot of resale shop where you can find killer pieces, and the best part is you don’t have pay full price for them.
Take care of your clothes. Mend things, then you can wear them again. Resole and re-heel your shoes.
Wash your laundry on the cold water setting.
Consider how much you going to wear it. Eco-fashion Activist, Livia Firth, says you should think about wearing an item 30 times before purchasing it.
More photo’s from this year’s show, below.
Find more info about Redress Raleigh, donate to the non-profit, and more at redressraleigh.com/