Since starting No Vacancy Inn, what are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in establishing yourself in an industry that can be not only exclusive but borderline impenetrable sometimes?
Tremaine: The industry is only “exclusive but borderline impenetrable sometimes” if you’re seeking validation. Acyde and I seek none. When you don’t seek validation it’s hard for people or an industry (streetwear, fashion or otherwise) to have a hold over you. We just do things we like to do to the best of our abilities. We have both been doing that for a long time even before we knew each other, so the only challenge for me is the guy in the mirror and time… That’s it. Everything else is out of my control and I do my best not to worry about things that are not in my control. The only challenges are real-life ones, not the streetwear/fashion industry issues.
What have you learned coming out the other side of those?
Tremaine: The only things I had to come out the other side from was real life issues. What I learned from those was that you can do anything with a positive mind frame, intelligence, a sense of humor, a sense of humanity, hard work, and a partner like Acyde and all others that support me… I lost my mother and my job of nine years (Marc Jacobs) in a seven-month period in 2015 before we started No Vacancy Inn in August 2015. So making No Vacancy work was a blessing and nothing compared to real-life situations. So what I learned from losing my mom and getting laid off was that, if I didn’t make something happen, her life would be in vain, everything Robert Duffy taught me would be in vain, all the years in London, all the flights, all the late nights would be in vain. I learned what I really was made of. I took my severance money I got from Marc Jacobs… and put it all into making this happen. Flights, hotels, photoshoots, making clothes, etc… Two years later nothing was in vain. I learned it could be worse and it can always get better.
How do you feel about the current state of the industry and what do you see as the biggest issues facing the industry today?
Tremaine: Things are very DIY right now, which is a good thing. There is an independent punk feel in some of the new brands now. New issues facing the industry… what is the environmental impact of the clothing we make and what are we teaching and leaving behind for the next generation?
Specifically, what are your thoughts on the state of streetwear and how it sits alongside or challenges the presumed superiority of capital "F" fashion?
Tremaine: Again, I don’t seek validation from the fashion world or anyone, so it doesn’t matter to me. Streetwear shouldn’t care either… I mean the name streetwear… what does it mean? It’s just a label. Labels make it easy for lazy people to define things.
Do you have any expectations for where the industry is heading or thoughts about the direction that it needs to take to stay relevant?
Tremaine: I’ll use a Mos Def album intro to answer this one… just substitute “hip-hop” with “the culture”:
People be askin’ me all the time, “Yo Mos, what’s gettin’ ready to happen with hip-hop?” (Where do you think hip-hop is goin?) I tell ‘em, "You know what's gonna happen with hip-hop Whatever's happening with us" If we smoked out, hip-hop is gonna be smoked out If we doin’ alright, hip-hop is gonna be doin’ alright People talk about hip-hop like it's some giant livin’ in the hillside Comin’ down to visit the townspeople We are hip-hop Me, you, everybody, we are hip-hop So hip-hop is goin’ where we goin’ So the next time you ask yourself where hip-hop is goin’ Ask yourself.. where am I goin’? How am I doin’? 'Til you get a clear idea…
Something we're seeing more of in the last few years (and 2017 especially) is the emergence of not just cliques and trends, but communities within fashion—both in terms of designers and in terms of consumers. Is that something you consider important?
Tremaine: Tribes are a part of being human; finding your tribe helps give one’s life meaning or direction. Is it the right meaning or direction, that’s a whole other thing...
What’s been your highlight of 2017 so far?
Tremaine: Doing a pop-up in honor of my dearly departed mother at Procell. Big shout out to Procell, my little brother, Know Wave, and every single person that came by and every single person that donated to the Every Mother Counts Organization on behalf of my mother.
What are your short-term and long-term goals for your brand, and personally?
Tremaine: Tomorrow ain’t promised so my short and long-term goals are the same. Educate people and myself, making a good living doing the things I love to do, do more charity, and live in the moment constantly.
Does anything need to change for you to achieve them? Tremaine: Things have to always change or else you’re achieving nothing. All the greats have changed and evolved… P.S. RIP Gary Warnett.