Hot off the heels of a collaboration with Travis Scott, which only adds to the bevy of sought-after collaborations with mainstays such as KITH, Nike Skateboarding, Been Trill and Ibn Jasper, Nicky Diamonds sat down with HYPEBEAST to provide his take on the gradual growth of today’s streetwear culture. Speaking on subjects ranging from the perceived facelift of Fairfax, to his thoughts on collaborating, the relevant influence of Ralph Lauren, and why he plans on retiring Diamond’s trademark Tiffany colorway, Nicky leaves no subject untouched.
Considering your extensive amount of time on the road, what difference have you perceived in how streetwear is approached in Los Angeles compared to say New York City, London, Shanghai or Copenhagen?
I think that wherever you go within the States, our genre of apparel is cohesively pretty much the same. Clothing is basically skate, intertwined with streetwear, as we do a lot of collobarations with streetwear brands. If people are into fashion and skateboarding, they kind of all dress the same and are interested in the same type of apparel.
So skateboarding is pretty much the foundation…
Yeah. Some skaters are more into the “fashion-y” stuff so they’ll buy some more higher end streetwear, but most skaters just want a T-shirt and jeans; it doesn’t matter what brand because they’re going to get thrashed anyways.
Is there a certain select shop, or favorite retailer that you have?
I don’t know what it is about Japan and the actual fashion that they have; the brands that you can’t really find anywhere else. We go to ISETAN every time we go to Tokyo, and find the most amazing stuff. That’s one of my favorite places to shop.
You go for a few collections each year, coupled with quite a few collaborations as well – where do you go for inspiration? Do you take into consideration the reigning trends of the moment?
Brett, our creative director, and I do most of the designs ourselves – especially the graphic tees, which correlates with the cut-and-sew ideas, but mainly we just make the stuff that we personally like at the moment. In regards to trends, I don’t go, “That fad is what’s in and people are buying this article of clothing, so let’s make it.” However, if we actually appreciate how something looks, we go ahead and make it. That’s where our inspiration is really derived from – our personal taste.
So you’re quite aware of the current state of streetwear and take note of what consumers are purchasing?
Yes, simply because I am around. I am around a lot of younger people and I still look at blogs; I’m still in the conservations with kids on HYPEBEST forum; I still hang around Fairfax – I see everybody, I travel the world and visit all the stores they shop in. I get a good idea of what’s happening by just being out and about.
Speaking of Fairfax – how has it changed since you guys first set up shop?
Fairfax has changed a lot, but by that I mean it has gotten bigger — that’s all. The kid is still the same. It started off as kids just wanting limited edition shit so they’d go to Fairfax. Supreme was there first, followed by The Hundreds, Diamond and Flight Club, and then all these stores started popping up. The kid’s the same kid, there are just more of them now. Obviously streetwear has gotten more popular amongst the youth, in unison with skateboarding, which has risen to new heights. Today more kids have developed a deeper appreciation for clothes and skateboarding whereas back in the day, such adolescents would have settled for smoking weed and playing football or whatever. Now Fairfax is like a mini-shopping mall.
Is Fairfax still catering to the same crowd? Or do you think the kid has matured a little bit?
I think they’re just into the same shit that we’ve been into because they’ve grown up with the culture being in their face: sneakers, apparel, skateboarding, etc., whereas in earlier times, it was harder to know about it. You had to be “cool,” to know about shit. Today, it’s everywhere, including all over the internet and thus readily accessible, making it harder to find out about new shit.
It sounds as if you really don’t consider your brand loyalists so much when you decide to take on collabs.
No, not at all. Actually back in the day when I was doing colalbs with The Hundreds and Crooks and Castles, skaters were like, “What the fuck is that? I’ve never heard of that stuff.” However I liked it so we did it. I’ve gotten a lot of backlash from collabs that I have done, but I don’t care. If I like it then I’m going to do it — it doesn’t matter.
Are there any brands that you look up to – past or present that has set a bar you personally aspire towards reaching?
I’ve been saying this for years that my favorite brand ever is Ralph Lauren.
The ’90s stuff?
The whole company, top down from RRL, Polo, RL, Purple Label, etc. I admire how they’ve stayed cool after all these years. Most people I know still want to buy something Polo whether it’s the RRL store, Ralph Lauren, Polo, etc. They’ve made everything from bedding — effectively hitting every category, which is what we do at Diamond. We’re trying to make something for every category. It’s cool to be able to make everything. I just look at Ralph Lauren as super influencial to everybody from high fashion to streetwear, skate, workwear, all kinds of shit. I say skate because back in the ’90s we were all rocking Polo.
I feel as if ‘90s sportswear is still really embedded into a lot of people’s minds today. Take the A$AP x Guess capsule collection for example.
I agree, because back then in the early ’90s, there weren’t really brands, skate brands that made clothes solely for skaters. There were surf brands, but no one was actually doing it. So we’d wear Levi’s or Dickies, and then Polo. Polo was hip; we were all influenced by hip-hop – rappers were wearing that shit, so all the skaters rocked it.
How do you view the Tiffany Dunks years after its release?
I think that the Diamond SB was a major turning point for Diamond. I will always think of it as one of the main things that made people recognize as Diamond. I covet those sneakers. It is amazing that we linked up with Nike because without that collaboration, we probably would have never really broken away from the stigma of just being another skate brand. Nike x Diamond Supply was the turning point when people became interested in what we were producing outside of skating. All that aside, it’s an awesome shoe. It’s crazy that I came up with such a unique design (color scheme and croc pattern) over ten years ago. At the time, there weren’t any croc shoes and you did not see that particular Tiffany colorway.
You touched upon the Tiffany color set with the KITH collab — are we going to see you revist that colorway in any forthcoming releases?
We are really trying to steer away from the whole color scheme of the SB Dunks. I didn’t even really want to translate it to the KITH collab, but Ronnie did and he knew that it was going to blow because now consumers familiar with the brand expect that color scheme whenever news breaks of an upcoming collaboration. It would be nice to make some stuff collaborative wise that doesn’t utilize the Tiffany colorway. We haven’t yet, but we’ll see.
The Diamond Supply x Kith collaboration was a massive hit — do you consider collabs to be an extra bonus in Diamond Supply’s trajectory, or are these specific, big milestones that you work towards?
Most of the collaborations that we engage in happen out of no where. Nothing has ever really been that planned. Collaborations are not an aspect of the business that we view as a means to make a quick buck off of, solely because most of our collaborations end up being very limited. We just work with people we hold in high esteem and would co-op on a project together because we have respect for their distinct craft. Our main ambition is to create something we think is cool, regardless of whether this garners approval from the outside world. For example last year, we team up with Kith. At the onset of the merger we asked ourselves, “Does our customer really know what Kith is?” No. Not really. The skaters are are like what the fuck is Kith.” However we dig Kith and went ahead with the collaboration.
Could you provide more insight on the brand’s latest collaboration with Travis Scott? What is Diamond Supply Co.’s relationship with the young rapper and how did this collaboration come to fruition?
The Diamond Supply Co. family have known Travis for many years, and the timing was right to finally sit down and work on a project together. Travis has been a fan of Diamond since our early days, and likewise we have always been a fan of his music and style. We could not ask for a better subject to extend the invite for a collaborative capsule collection, which inevitably led to a massively successful release.
How do the designs and graphics imprinted onto the collection’s pieces best represent both parties involved?
I love the aesthetic we created because the imagery effectively represents Travis’ Rodeo theme. From top down, the entire look is quite simple and clean, which how we like to do things here at Diamond Supply Co.