Glad I got the opportunity for this one, it always nice to get that real wisdom from someone who’s done a lot and been in the game for a while. Last month on my trip to New York, I got a chance to slide by the legendary Community 54; I felt nothin’ but love as soon as I came in. Instantly connected with the Creative Director, Daymon Green, and got a full tour of the place; it was lit. Someone of you may know of Community 54 from their legendary A$AP Rocky & Spaceghostpurrp show back in 2011, but aside from being a dope ass venue; they’re an incredible streetwear brand too. In this interview, Daymon and I speak on Pop-ups, where the name Local Hooligans originated, his thoughts on the state of streetwear culture, their recent collab with Smoke DZA and a couple other dope topics.
King Phill: How’s your day been man?
Daymon: I’m on a stay-cation currently. Sittin’ on a rooftop lookin’ at Central Park West; amazed at the city of New York.
King Phill: That’s very classy man.
Daymon: Sittin’ on the roof at the Park Of Meridian, like a rap lyric. About 70 floors up, lookin’ at the park.
King Phill: That’s ill; very inspirational too, man. I bet that’s a good place to clear your thoughts and everything.
Daymon: it’s like fishing. You can leave your cottage and drive your boat 20 minutes and try to fish or you can actually just throw your line in at your own dock. People forget what they have in their own city, you know? So you travel like 20 hours to go investigate and check shit out. Every once in a while you gotta do that in your own city, especially if it’s New York. You’ve got so much shit to see here, it could take a life time.
King Phill: Just to go travel, hit all the spots and all the little areas. So what’s your position or role in Community 54?
Daymon: I’m a Co-Owner with Jason Jacobs and Joel Reilly. I’m also the Creative Director, slash Social Media Manager, slash clean the floors when they need to be cleaned.
King Phill: A man of many trades.
Daymon: If you’re thinking of become an entrepreneur or you are one and you only do one thing, that’s very rare. Most entrepreneurs have to do a million different facets of their businesses; most of them not glamorous, if they hope to survive.
King Phill: You’ve got to be able to do every task that comes with that position and everything else around it.
Daymon: Yeah, 100%.
King Phill: What are some of your best memories so far at the store? Whenever I think of Community 54, I automatically go to that Spaceghostpurrp and Rocky Halloween Party (shown below).
Daymon: Yep, that was my birthday; October 30th, 2011. It seems like an eternity ago. Rocky’s on billboards and in the window of Dior stores around the world. That was 5 years ago on the Lower East Side in a little grimy spot with a bunch of friends jammed together for the opening of some clothing store that didn’t look like a clothing store. Being written up in the New York Times was a highlight. In the article they did called “Ghosts From The Past”, it was all about vintage streetwear. It was basically us and Flight Club who had a vintage concept at the time. Another highlight was opening a store in Toronto on 11/11/11, ironically; none of these things really planned. Toronto opened with no funding; we didn’t really have enough money to do one and we did two, so that was definitely a highlight. Numbers are all around us; they mean a lot, whether you like it or not.
King Phill: So you caught Rocky and Purrp at their early stages. What new artists do you think now are gonna be bubbling out just like they did?
Daymon: Berner, he’s down with Taylor Gang. He already has his lifestyle brand kickin’ and his music kickin’; he’s really connected to everyone that’s poppin’ right now. I think Berner is gonna be someone that’s definitely gonna be big. Another member of the A$AP Mob, Twelvy. We actually have a special project comin’ up with him as well. He has his whole “Last Year Bein’ Broke” movement, which we definitely support strongly. Out of Canada, we’ve got Roy Woods. His new mixtape just came out on OVO. Definitely harps back to that Jodeci R&B vibe mixed with what’s happening today.
King Phill: Community 54 is deep-rooted in the streetwear game. I’ve seen a lot of your pieces and they’re ill; I love them a lot. Many of them are some really nice logo flips. I think the logo flip is a good staple design in the industry. How important do you think the logo flip is as far as design goes?
Daymon: In the corporate world, they call it “culture jamming”; put that in hashtags. We never heard of that term. In skate, surf, hip-hop, it’s always been a part of the culture. You remix someone else’s song and make it your song. At the end of the day, whether we know it or not, most things that are popular are culture based and they’re influenced from something else. For us, we came out of the vintage movement. We used to sell a ton of vintage Lo, vintage Tommy, vintage snapbacks, jersey; all this shit was 6-7 years ago before we started our brand. Nobody really wanted that product at the time, there was just a little community that was into it. We could only get ones. If you were lucky enough to find an ill Bart shirt, you couldn’t buy 20 of them; you only found one. When you bought it to the store and before you even take photos of it, much less put it online, it was gone. Some of our first designs we did for Community were based around styles that were hot in the vintage world. We decided to flip some of the things we were passionate about on the vintage side. We were one of the first companies to do a snapback with Starter, then one with Mitchell & Ness, a 5950 with New Era and a hoodie with Champion. That all goes with the culture jamming side of it. You just wanna work with the people who have done it since it started. It’s not even that complicated; I’m not gonna try to make a hoodie better than Champion. I’m just gonna come up with something witty to put on the hoodie that hopefully people identify with. It’s ironic cause 6 years later some of the hottest high fashion brands that are on the runways that people are paying $800 for a hoodie like Vetements; it’s a logo bite on a hoodie, it’s streetwear. You go to YSL and buy a $3,000 cardigan with a dinosaur on it in pink and green; where does that come from?
King Phill: Facts. Niggas can’t deny that streetwear is really influential.
Daymon: It’s influential, but you’ve also got some cats that are bitter like the older, corporate streetwear brands. Because they’re like “Yo the industry’s gone, people aren’t streetwear anymore. They’re goin’ clean. People are buyin’ iPhone’s”. No, people are buying shit; they’re just not buying the brands they were buying before. People aren’t buying Rocawear anymore, people are buying 10 Deep. The people are still buying, it’s just the dollars are going into different brands.
King Phill: I’ve seen the Local Hooligans hats and t-shirts, I really think that name is ill. Where did that whole moniker come from?
Daymon: We were doing a collab in Japan with some homies out there and we wanted to make some product. They were like “what can we use? What’s something that everyone can identify with?” Local is something we stand by whether it’s New York, Toronto or Miami; we’re always building with the locals, always supportive and down to build with people. Hooligans is when you get a bunch of people together and everyone’s having a good time. A lot of our parties and events get a little rowdy, so we joined those two things. ‘Hooligans’ was an old-time word that people weren’t using. Any item we’ve put it on so far has sold out.
King Phill: You guys have a lot of ill shit; scrolling through the online store and seeing everything in person. Your designs really build out an identity to the brand.
Daymon: Thank you. We’ve worked with a lot of different designers; most of them have volunteered their time. We don’t produce a lot of anything; this isn’t a corporate machine. A lot of people who get involved will just design stuff and it’ll end up being a collab. Community 54 is also limited for those cats that don’t want to have something everybody has. It’s just in the top boutiques in North America, Japan, Korea and Australia. We don’t make seasonal collections; you only find us when we have something inspiring to say.
King Phill: What would it take for an indie brand to get carried in Community 54? I saw that Despierta was in there and I did an interview with them a while back. I just like seeing real indie shit and seeing niggas take it to the next level.
Daymon: Those guys are a great example of how we operate. They came in off the street, we built. We do Finale Fridays which is a showcase at the end of every month. They showcased at one of the events; their product blew out. Now they’re a regular brand in our store that we carry on going; we support them, they support us. Jon, one of the owners, will even make a flyer for us for an event he’s not even a part of. Those guys are family. For other up-and-coming brands around the world, it’s real simple. You email us at firstname.lastname@example.org , we have pop-ups at the end of the month at all of our locations. You submit your product via line sheets and you gotta be in the New York or Toronto area for the pop-up. If you can put a line together and you have a following, you can be down. We don’t say whether we love it or hate it; that’s fashion. Some of the shit I hate does amazing. Some of the things I think are amazing, we don’t sell one of them.
King Phill: Now a lot of people are grasping the concept of “I don’t have to like it, but it can still be dope”.
Daymon: Again, it’s all taste level. You can look at a piece of art and hate it, the next guy can look at it and think it’s worth $10,000,000. If Vetemets can sell a hoodie for $850 or a Snoop Dogg vintage tee for $350, then who’s to say what prices anything should be at?
King Phill: What made you open up the backyard to graffiti artists?
Daymon: It’s not just graffiti artists; we have fine artists, people who do murals, we’ve had someone do a 3M installation. At the end of the day, we need that area. If we’re gonna get rowdy and be hooligans, we gotta have a place to hold events. Where are we gonna throw the events? Trying to balance that and not constantly get in trouble is a full-time job right there.
King Phill: How’d the collab with Smoke DZA (shown below) come about? I fuck with Smoke heavy.
Daymon: He’s family bro. We’ve worked with him, seen him come up and do his thing. The real lights are gonna hit him soon and he’s gonna get to that next level. He’s been workin’ at it. He’s such a positive and real dude; he’ll build with anybody at any time. He shows love anywhere. Those are the kinds of people we love to work with and we hope other people think that we’re those kind of people. The collab with Smoke happened very natural, probably over a very large-sized blunt; a couple of ideas get passed back and forth. Back in the day we were in a Japanese campaign together. Don’t google that shit because I looked like some wild rapper; I don’t know what was goin’ on in my brain that day. I remember him showin’ up to the shoot and lookin’ at me like “Yo, you tryna show me up?” We did an event with him on 4/19 recently. Did some custom hats and tees; the event was really packed. He was launchin’ his new mixtape, Don’t Pass Trump The Blunt. He’s been on major news outlets from that.
King Phill: You guys also have some ill, innovative marketing ideas. You were telling me something about how there was some ill shit at the Berner event. I know you guys have the coffee shop and barber too. How important do you think it is to have original marketing ideas for a brand? That even takes it further than just the fashion industry and puts it in the entrepreneurial field.
Daymon: I wish I could say we had a textbook for it or some elaborate plot. It’s funny cause now I recently went into a brand new store that has a barbershop, juice bar, coffee, this pop-up and that pop-up. That’s the way things have evolved and that’s how you need to do retail now. You have to do multiple businesses out of one retail space, especially in a city like New York, to survive. I think in any city, people want the lifestyle because if you just want product you can just go online in the comforts of your own home. Retail stores have to captivate people to give them a reason to come in; that’s the challenge. That’s where all the events, pop-ups, barbers, sneaker cleaning events and other creative ideas come into play.
King Phill: Earlier you were hinting on possibly a west coast location, are you thinking of any other locations?
Daymon: We’d love to be in Miami, Chicago, Atlanta. We’d love to be in so many different places. We’ve popped up in Japan and Korea. We’ve been very blessed. We’d love to have a dedicated space in those regions, just selfishly because I love it there. We’ll let it happen naturally. Most of our spaces happen naturally because we have a relationship with our landlord. That’s the most important thing in retail; having a relationship with your landlord. If you’ve got the snaps like that, buy the building and gain equity. If you don’t have that type of scratch, make sure you have a good relationship with the landlord because it generally takes time to get these things rolling.
King Phill: Truly, what are some upcoming events that you’re excited about?
Daymon: I hinted we have a Twelvy event coming up; it’ll be real poppin’. We’ve got a bunch of different artist driven things, a couple of different launches for clothing brands. If you check our Instagram and Twitter @Community54 and our website, you’ll see the events. We invite everybody; none of these events are private. Just RSVP and come through. You don’t have to be the coolest on any blog or in that top 10 people at every event. If you see an event, just RSVP and come through. You’ll definitely see from now until October a bunch of amazing things coming up.