“More recently, I’ve been dressing more outwards,” Sakony said. Apparently from the silver drip on the Jumpman from his “Pure Money” Air Jordan four. Sakony Shakur Burton, 22 from Homewood in Pittsburgh, is pent-up printing T-shirts, out-of-sight in the basement, which you have to access through a secret door on the floor of Haus of Vain, a thrift shop on Centre Avenue. The graphic designer busied fulfilling orders for his “Stay Away” collection, tees with barbed wire around a yellow smiley face. It’s very anti, but Sakony says it’s for people who like their alone time. “I only go outside to seek genuine connection and then go home.”
InTheRough: How would you describe the wardrobe of a designer? By that I mean Steve Jobs. He dressed mad simple.
Sakony: Yeah he had a uniform.
ITR: Right, you know what I mean, but it’s either one of two things: basic or eccentric. I see you got a pearl Chanel earring on, bro.
Sakony: [laughs] I would say more recently I’ve been dressing more outwards. Usually it’s all black this all black that. My mans came over earlier and was saying, “I’m trying to be like Steve Jobs. Five turtle necks for the week type shit.” I would want to be like that, but I like too much shit. I opted out of that whole thing with making my own shit. I try not to do the same things too often. I had an angel hoop earring that I lost in Los Angeles. I have a weird affinity for angels. I dress how I dress. I dress like the people I’m around. It’s in the details. “Oh, Sakony got a Chanel earring. That’s hard!”
ITR: That includes your Love bracelet?
Sakony: We’re not gonna talk about that. It was a birthday gift from a brother and we all got one.
ITR: Oh, shit.
Sakony: Don’t even hype it.
The designer describes his fan base as “people who’ve been following me through the Internet” throughout his youth at C.A.P.A., Pittsburgh’s creative and performing arts magnet school. Sakony was a Tumblr kid and that’s where his graphics first received love from around the globe. “I live for the love. If people continue to love me, nothing is for naught,” he said. The love gives him confidence to sell his work. “You can down play yourself all you want, but you really got that gift,” Sakony said.
Also, seeing the demand for SOSIMO, a streetwear brand by Pittsburgh native Ivan Rodriguez, influences him to produce more products. “We’re just kids doing the thing,” he said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now, and to some degree, if it wasn’t for me, he wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing right now.”
The latest creation from Sakony is an ode to regional slang. While one of his friends was walking around Chinatown in New York, he read T-shirts that said “Fuck You You Fucking Fuck,” and sent a picture to Sakony. He liked the arrogant vulgarity from a classic New York accent. “New York got theirs, why can’t we have ours?”
A black tee boasts “Fuck Yinz You Fucking Jagoffs” in white text to get the point across.
InTheRough: That’s very vulgar, but I get swearing is peaceful in a way. Where’d the inspiration for this come from?
Sakony: It’s from a New York tee. “Fuck You, You Fucking Fuck.” It made me think of the “Homewood You Schmuck” T-shirts and The Hill’s “Nephs” tee. It’s a regional tee. I ended up getting one that says “Always You Fucking Fuck” from my boy Mario out in Arizona. I was like I should make one for all of Pittsburgh. I might as well make something for the entire city. This will probably be the only Pittsburgh centric tee that I’ll drop. I'm not going to say I don’t take pride in being from here. It’s definitely one of the key factors of my character, but it doesn’t comprise more than 50% of my being.
ITR: Yeah, Pittsburgh pride varies, but everybody feels a tie to it at some point.
Sakony: I definitely feel the most Pittsburgh when I’m out of Pittsburgh. When I was out in L.A., I was like, damn I’m really a Pittsburgh nigga.
Throughout his graphics career, Sakony has garnered an influence that “is not so easily seen,” he said. “Outside of apparel, my design makes you want to cop it. Music artists come to me for cover art because they want my little flavor of things.”
As Sakony continues, he refines more skills, like producing beats, so he can sell to the public that loves his work.