“We just want to live through our art- that’s the whole thing with Dead Since. Everybody on the team does something different, whether it be music, design, photography– we’re living through our art. That’s the only thing we have complete control over. What you do and what you bring to the table is something no one can take without your permission.”- Alaska, Owner of Dead Since 1987
CUTS East Coast Photog Jamaal White Interviews the founder of the Jersey City Streetwear Brand, “Dead Since 1987”.
How does Dead Since 1987 fit into a streetwear society?
“Dead Since is the counterculture to a society that makes us question our worth. As if you don’t dress a certain way or aren’t from a certain city that you’re wrong. We are taught that being different is wrong, and it’s not. Being yourself is always the right move, and if you’re a little different then [them] f*ck it, be different. You should embrace that sh*t to the fullest potential. That’s the whole purpose of the brand, we understand that perspective because we live that every day. You gotta’ embrace it.”
So what inspires you to be an inspiration in the streetwear world?
“In itself, just trying to do better. Trying to do right by the people around me. Going to events, going to the city (Manhattan), seeing other designers working- I get inspiration from everything.”
What feeling do you wish to invoke when people interact with your designs?
“I feel the people that are around me and people that are a part of the brand, remind me of grunge- like a punk rock band. Something people can wear everyday. You can always feel what being an individual is with rock and roll or punk sh*t. That whole era was the epitome of being a rebel and doing what the f*ck you wanted. That’s what I want to incorporate in these pieces. The name ‘Dead’ is a metaphor for that rebellious style, and when people see it, I want it to come off as more than just a four letter word. It’s about being you without societies consent. Only you know what’s good for you, and all that other shit is ‘Dead’.”
What enables you to represent a culture and stay relevant without conforming to a trend?
“I just try to stay simple. Simplicity lasts forever. Whatever I do will always push my creativity, but I also design stuff based around what I feel represents the brand and the people well. That everyday person that has a sense of street wear, but is into a variety of things, represents the core of Dead Since so we want to reciprocate that. I’m into trap, rock, rap- all different types of sh*t, so when you find people who are also into different lifestyles, I want to bridge that gap between us and them.”
What do you think about this sentence: “Once something is considered ‘streetwear’ it gets played out.”
“Well to be honest, it’s a gift and a curse sort of. I feel like a lot of fashion ideas start from the street. And then when sh*t gets hot- peep how things are priced and who they try to target. Big Business basically up-sells their product through their luxury names, but essentially, dropping street wear sh*t. Theres always that double standard that when it goes ‘to the hood’, it gets played out, but really, it’s the other way around. For example, people weren’t wearing high end sneakers with street wear before the streets did it. Brands like Tommy Hilfiger wasn’t dropping street wear until they realized the market was there to take. The thing is, once it gets to a certain notoriety, THEN it gets played out. That’s when the trend starts and you start seeing it everywhere, but initially, our culture starts all that!
Listen, people used to wear oversized gear as a sign of royalty. It was a sign of coming from wealth. Oversized garments were worn by kings and queens. All that layered fabric and being ‘baggy’ goes way back to palaces my g. You gotta’ show that it’s different but you also have to know the history to some extent. There will be times where people try to knock your style, but if you know what it means, they can never take that from you. I’m going to dress this way forever. I’m not worried about ‘dressing my age’ like, this is what’s comfortable to me. I look like my brand, and when you rock with us, you are now a part of that. You become a part of something you can relate to. It always has context, not just something I think is going to sell, I just reflect the story of being who you are, by being who I am. It’s like, I’m sorry for being who I am, but I’m not sorry, you feel me? I’m sorry for breaking your heart, but I’m not sorry that being who I am caused that. Being what someone else wants? We off that. And we should all push that message forward.”