Skater Nick Tershay — aka Nick Diamond — launched Diamond Supply Co. back in 1998 with the original vision of selling skate hardwear. It quickly graduated onto tees and accessories, capturing a zeitgeist that expanded the reach of the brand far beyond the skate community and established Diamond Supply Co. (and its instantly recognizable logo) within an emerging streetwear scene.
A-list collaborations, savvy business moves, and a little bit of luck along the way have all meant that the brand continues to thrive. Now approaching its 20th year and about to launch a European HQ in Barcelona, Tershay has plenty to say when it comes to the current streetwear scene and how his own brand has grown and evolved over the years. After catching him during a new-season photography shoot in Paris, he gave his views on how to make a success of a startup streetwear brand.
Do Something You’re Passionate About
“My grandma got me into skateboarding when I was 4 and my earliest memories were sitting on a board going down a hill. When I was about 10 I got my first legit skateboard and never stopped. This was during the 1980s and back then it was really underground — everyone hated us and we got kicked out of everywhere we tried to ride.
The idea to start Diamond Supply Co. came when I was getting sponsored by skateboarding companies. I would give them input on ideas I had for skate products or hats or beanies and almost everything I suggested turned out well so I thought I could give it a go. I decided to start my own thing and brought my friends together to be on the same skate team. We were selling T-shirts and hats to a few stores — including FTC in San Francisco and Supreme in New York — and all the shirts we gave them were selling out.”
Build a Community
“In the early days what helped us massively was talking to our customers — I met Bobby Hundreds and he told me to get on the forums and talk to the kids. I went onto HYPEBEAST Forum and started posting T-shirt designs and I was on there for years. I didn’t sleep much — I was either designing or posting designs on these forums and talking to these kids 24 hours a day. I built a community on there, NikeTalk and Sole Collector. I’d drop limited-edition T-shirts and they’d sell out all the time and people would always ask how the fuck I was selling out!
When I started, I was giving skaters, DJs and rappers my T-shirts. It was around the time of Hot Boys and bling style so they all thought it was sick because the designs said the word diamond. But it was really taken up by other people when we teamed up with Nike SB in 2005. That’s what pushed us into the sneaker and streetwear scene. Streetwear was different then; it was a lot smaller but that’s how I gained a whole new audience.”
Pick Your Collabs Carefully
“Beyond the Nike SB Tiffany Dunks, we also did a collab with Wiz Khalifa. As he’s from Pittsburgh and we did these black and yellow colorway shirts like the Pittsburgh Pirates and he had a big fanbase, so when it dropped we had a huge line of kids outside but that was it. Then a week later, he released his video for “Black and Yellow” and when he dropped that video they were all wearing the shirts; that’s the song that took him into the mainstream and everyone was asking what these shirts were.
I used to do so many collaborations and I still do them once in a while, but for my brand I need to be selective. We’ve done a collab with PUMA that was really successful and we’ve also done stuff with ASICS and Nike but it has to be helpful for both sides rather than doing it for a random brand.”
Be Wary of Celebrity
“Now streetwear brands help make celebrities cool too but it didn’t used to be like that — when I started out, if you saw a celebrity or a singer wearing, say, a Thrasher or Spitfire shirt you’d think that was fucking lame and that they were jumping on the bandwagon. It was underground: we were rebels and we skate and that’s what was cool. But now kids only wear what celebrities are wearing so if you see celebs wearing Supreme or Anti Social Social Club or Diamond they’re going to be wearing that. It used to be you wouldn’t want to wear something popular but now kids only wear shit if other people are wearing it — it’s flipped completely.
A lot of kids now want to make clothes because they love it but I feel the majority want to start a brand because they see success on the internet for people with a brand. Often they want to do it for the sole purpose of making money but back then we didn’t see all of that.”
“We’ve always done collaborations with riders but this year we’ve got plenty coming and we’re putting out more hardware and skate-specific shoes, which has been a success since launching a year ago. Going against the giants — Nike, Converse and adidas — is an amazing blessing; just to be on the shelves next to them these days is really hard but we have our place within the industry and both our shoes and our skate team are proving that.
We’re also opening our European HQ in Barcelona this month. Selling to Europe has always been hard and it would always be expensive as there would always be a middleman, but by going direct to the shops it will be more affordable. Barcelona is a nice hub as it’s central and has an amazing skate scene — it’s like a playground for skating. This is a new age for Diamond Supply Co. in Europe.”
For more information visit the Diamond Supply Co. website here.
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