What has been your biggest challenges since starting your eponymous label?
The biggest challenge was having to transition from what I used to do to launching a full collection. I am used to creating a single T-shirt here and a single T-shirt there, so having to sell a collection around the world was tough. I guess I considered myself an underground artist and the whole world didn’t know about me. I am connecting and having a bigger conversation with new consumers now—so it has definitely gone a lot more commercial for me.
Wrapping my head around collections, concepts, and themes in general and understanding what my customers from around the world want in general, and having to adapt to sensibilities of different shoppers around the world. I’m no longer just designing only for my friends but also for people who may see it. I have partners and retailers so it has been the biggest challenge for me to understand this new world that I have entered.
The fashion industry has experienced a lot of ups and downs in recent years. What do you think about the current state of the industry and what do you see as the biggest issues facing the industry today?
The industry is really focused on authenticity right now and connecting on a more cultural level. Things like Dapper Dan’s collaboration with Gucci now are huge wins for culture and for the industry because it is showing that the larger corporations are finally acknowledging the streets that they steal from. Brands like Gucci need to do that because they owe Dan one. People who should be acknowledged have to be acknowledged. The internet rallying behind culture is helping kick out doors and open new doors—that has been the biggest shift in industry I have seen. The industry is finally starting to wake up and approach authenticity in a new way. These grassroots movements/doors should have happened/opened a long time ago.
What are your thoughts on the state of streetwear? Do you think it’s here to stay?
I’m not worried because all this work we are doing is very youth culture. As long as there is youth culture there will always be streetwear, and streetwear will always be in trend. It just takes on different shapes and forms throughout the course of the year. I don’t necessarily think about how my clothing will die down because streetwear is here to stay.
You did a collaboration with The City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY). How did that come about and why was this collaboration important to you?
The textile industry is the second “dirtiest” industry in the world. That’s an issue that everyone should beware of, however, not a lot of people know about it. I did not know about it myself until I actually did the project with DSNY, so that was merely a year ago. I question how many of us in the industry actually care and want to reduce the impact our actions are doing to the environment. I wanted to do something that spoke to upcycling, and I’ll be continuing to do it as well. I am currently trying to challenge my partners on figuring out how to eliminate packaging. Think about how much of the stuff in the mailbox goes straight to the trash… credit card offers, invites… more.
What has been your highlight of 2017?
Introducing my “global retail tour” to launch my first collection. I launched in Moscow, London, Paris, Milan, NYC, Tokyo and Seoul. A global retail tour to launch a collection is a fairly new concept that we wanted to explore.
What are your short-term and long-term goals for your brand and personally?
Take it as it comes. I just launched my brand so my goal is continue to keep it lively. I want to make my third collection as a statement that “I am here to stay;” I am worthy enough of being in the fashion industry.