May 26, 2017 | By Samuel Trotman
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Oct 28, 2016
Recently, DIY fashion has been making waves again in Hip-hop, as rappers use fashion to continue to shape their brand identity. And with this, we’re seeing a wave of young designers taking garment customisation to a whole new level. One artist and designer helping rappers develop and explore this style further is Julian Prince Dash, based in San Francisco. A man of many disciplines, Dash has been creating one-off pieces for rappers like Young Thug, 2 Chainz and singer Erykah Badu, among a few others. His custom pieces aren’t your standard-issue patchwork jeans with rips at the knee – Dash’s one-of-a-kind, experimental creations include hand painted jeans and denim jackets that are artfully reworked with African and Japanese fabrics along with silk screen, hand embroidery and cut and sew techniques.
Alongside his namesake label, Dash, also goes by the name @HolyStitch, the factory where he teaches the youth how to become social entrepreneurs utilising arts, technology and a sewing machine.
Dash was in town in Amsterdam for the Kingpins show, so we sat down with the emerging designer to discuss the process and inspirations behind his creations:
WGSN: What’s the story behind your collection?
I’m trying to tell the story of human history through my jeans, and in essence trying to find myself. Because I don’t know where I’m from.
How do the styles fit into this concept?
I start with two black jeans that are basically all the same on the outside but when you open it up, it represents the big bang as we’re all cut from the same cloth and there’s the same common thread between us all. “How I cut fabric is like a kalaediscopic because that’s how I see life.” I have the second black one with more textures, representing how we’re the same shapes and patterns but still on the same form of a pant. At the end of the spectrum I have the white pair with the white curtain fabric, that represent the lights at the end of the tunnel when you pass through the gates. In between those I have the earth jean, with camo that represents war and destruction. Then I’ve got flower, the opposite of war. Everything I do is a satire upon any kind of society, culture and jean culture, because there’s deeper things to think about like the textile revolution, industrialisation and slavery. But I don’t want to ostracise myself from the market.
All the styles are one-offs. What inspires each creation?
I just make one-of-a-kind styles as I’m trying to balance between art and commerce. I do whatever I feel like or whatever I’m inspired by in society, whether it be a musician, artist, cultural movement.
Can you tell us about some of the details:
All the pockets are lined with special fabrics. These can be anything from vintage fabrics that my friends have picked up along their travels, who pieces that I’ve rescued from factories. There’s also details that aren’t so obvious but you find them later after wear and tear. Every piece features gold hanging details on the inside that represent that we get hung up on gold, but also so that the items be hung up as they are, or hung up as a piece of art, which some of my customers do.
You’ve also created an impressive patchwork denim jacket. Can you tell us about the process behind this amazing piece?
I did this piece to challenge myself to create a composition of all the fabrics within my collection into one. It has details like zippers that are tripperly placed over the waistband, magnets on the cuffs, everything with the bias tapes on the inside for a clean finish.
How long have you been working with denim?
From the first pair of jeans I made until today is about 10 years.
What kind of artists have you worked with?
I hook Young Thug up with something every time he passes through SF. I’m currently working with 2 Chainz on a bespoke pair, Erykah Badu, Metro Boomin. Then other tier people that wear my stuff aside from rappers include politicians in SF and start-up guys.
Can you tell us a bit more about the project what you’re doing with the kids too?
Basically, my end goal would be a Willy Wonka type factory for jeans, but if Willy Wonka was teaching lessons, and schooling keys- plus they’d have the transparency or seeing everything made. But day to day what I do is, I will have a kid come to me and say they want to learn. I ask them what they want to learn, and if they say I don’t know, then they can’t even come through the door. I don’t make it easy. The door be closed like what you see in the kung-fu movies. Otherwise, if they are sincere, they come in and we have a talk, exchange a little bit of energy and then they sit down at the sewing machine. It’s about changing their psychology to make them see that if they have something in their mind they can make it a reality. And to talk to themselves better and defeat all that shit in society that puts them down, and believe that we can make anything happen.
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