Designer Don C. has mastered the art of reimagining a brand’s ethos to seamlessly fit within his streetwear-forward community. Working with whisky purveyor The Glenlivet for his most recent collaboration, the Just Don founder applied his distinct quirky—yet—fashionable spin on a sweatshirt for the brand. The result is a vibrant purple crewneck adorned with a block letter ‘G.’ Here’s the signature Don C. twist: The garment folds into itself to become a photo real, pillow-like version of The Glenlivet 14 Year Old bottle. On the occasion of the collaboration’s launch, we sat down with the designer to discuss the role basketball played in the design, how collaborations allow him to be a bit of a historian and why the ultimate goal is always to bridge a gap.
How did your collaboration with The Glenlivet come about?
We met with the team here in L.A. and they were talking about how they wanted to do something that was really modern and depicted the brand in a different medium than it had in the past. We brainstormed ideas and we really thought it would be a good idea to bring something fresh and fun, and so I was happy that they gave me the leeway to come up with the sweatshirt that converted into actual bottle.
What spoke to you about The Glenlivet that inspired you to collaborate with the brand?
The heritage. The fact that The Glenlivet is The Glenlivet shows how official it is. I like brands like The Glenlivet that are really, really cemented in heritage and have different principles and things that they stand for for a long period of time. So I love working with that, then putting some type of modern twist on it.
The concept — a sweatshirt that folds into itself to become the bottle — is so interesting and pretty out-of-the-box. How did you land on that design?
The actual concept was derived from a basketball. One of the designers in my office designed a sweatshirt that converted into a basketball. I was like, oh, why not something that could turn into a little bottle? That’s sort of how it came about.
What was it about the bottle that made you want to make it a central part of your design?
The purple was a cool hit because it’s really fresh and new and I think people don’t think of the purple when it comes to The Glenlivet. The particular bottle that we used, which is the 14 Year Old, is whisky that’s selectively finished in ex-cognac casks.
I also thought it would be cool for it to be either a photo real version of the bottle or something whimsically that looked like a cartoon, so I was appreciative that we were able to sublimate the actual real looking bottle on the fabric.
When working on a collaboration like this, how do you get to know the brand? What is your research process like?
I’m just a big fan of completely educating myself on whatever I’m working on. I love research and I like to know everything because designing is easy if you have a bunch of information on the subject. Designing becomes really simple because you just want to bubble forth and tell the story and the information that you know — and you just use the design as the medium to communicate those stories. It’s really just me trying to be a historian through product. I’m trying to tell the stories and history and entertain and educate through product.
How did you inject your own style into the collaboration?
In the quirkiness. Anyone who knows my style knows that I like things to be fun. The unexpected twist of the ‘G’ [on the sweatshirt] and the bottle was just something that really matches my personal aesthetic as well as my design aesthetic.
This collaboration obviously bridges the gap between luxury spirits and fashion. Why was that important to you?
The whole goal is to bridge the gap because community is how we bring the world closer together. So all the projects I work on, I love bringing different subcultures together — different like or unlike minded individuals coming together. I just think everybody should be connected.
You have a chance to win the Just Don x The Glenlivet collaboration at The Glenlivet’s website.
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