streetwear

It's Crunch Time in Life: David Cole Speaks About His Label Elisa Jones by Alex Young

David Cole wearing the “Bart 12" Elisa Jones hoodie | Photograph by Alex Young

David Cole wearing the “Bart 12" Elisa Jones hoodie | Photograph by Alex Young

Growing up in LefRak City, which is in New York City’s Queens borough, for 20-year-old David Cole “it was either play basketball or be around the people on the block.” Hoop dreams were a means to an end, a way out of rough conditions. The ball found David education and different circumstances. During his high school sophomore year playing for Christ The King, he earned his first Division I scholarship to play for Manhattan College. Although, Cole decided to leave home and head to Pittsburgh and join the Robert Morris University Colonials.

Basketball has been a savior for a lot of people... If it wasn’t for basketball, a lot of people wouldn’t be who they are.
— David Cole

“I love fashion” too Cole said even though basketball remains a priority. He’s no stranger to the cultural phenomenon the A$AP Mob created in New York blending music and fashion. A self-described ‘hypebeast,’ Cole copped VLONE garments by A$AP Bari or items like the volt, Off-White Air Force 1 sneaker. “I love the way they paved for us in this world when it comes to fashion,” Cole said about A$AP noting all the brands from A$AP Illz’s Disco Inferno, A$AP Ant’s Marino Infantry to A$AP Twelvyy’s L.Y.B.B. The natural intersection for Cole became sports and streetwear.

When he was back in New York on college break his sophomore year, Cole told his friend Aziz Donnadle he could enter the game and make an impactful clothing brand. Donnadle would help Cole create a name. They would call it Elisa Jones, an ode to their mothers using their first and last names. Donnadle’s mom’s first name and Cole’s mom’s last name. “Elisa Jones is smooth. It’s a true meaning. We love our mothers. Our mothers mean everything and much more. We owe them the world,” Cole explained.

Elisa Jones’ first product would return to Cole’s hoop dreams and reflect on his home’s environment. Illustrated bullet holes riddle through the “Memorial Tee,” a memorial basketball tournament T-shirt. The back reads “4 My Dead Homies.” Elisa Jones speaks to violent and unjust conditions in society. “I know people that lost their lives that had hoop dreams,” Cole said. He works for those who can’t. “It’s crunch time in life. You got one life. It’s crunch time,” Cole finished.

Tutu, Kristina wearing the Elisa Jones “Memorial Tee”, David Cole & Tyler Calpin | Photos by Alex Young

Tutu, Kristina wearing the Elisa Jones “Memorial Tee”, David Cole & Tyler Calpin | Photos by Alex Young

Flyer by Tutu

Flyer by Tutu

The brand stays true to its roots. “I love my neighborhood,” Cole said. The couple Elisa Jones hoodies out now continue to hit urban motifs. A mustard yellow or red “Public Housing” hoodie relates to drugs, money or murder. “If you know public housing, people are usually trying to sell drugs or do drugs. Get money. Money is important to everybody in life. Murder crime rates in projects are higher than other places,” Cole explained. An element to low-income neighborhoods are agents of the law, and for people of color, the negative interaction between them and police. The “Bart 12” sweatshirt displays the distaste black people have with police officers when they abuse their power.

There’s plenty of support for Elisa Jones when it comes to building concepts. “You can’t build an empire without a team of people,” Tyler Calpin said as the visual artist features as part of the system that represents Elisa Jones. At Calpin’s solo photography exhibit “Searching for Jenny” at Social Status in Downtown, Pittsburgh, Cole met the man who would handle the graphic design work for Elisa Jones, Tutu, a fellow New York native. “Because I have a real big passion for this, I feel like I gotta contribute any way that I can,” Tutu said handling Elisa Jones’ workload and his own for his HeatKlub label. A stalwart contributor to The ‘Burgh’s streetwear community, Ivan Rodriguez of SOSIMO linked Cole to Revival Print Co. to handle printing for Elisa Jones. A former basketball teammate at Robert Morris, Dachon Burke, listened to Cole’s ideas for the label. Each person’s success in the Elisa Jones teams boosts one another. “I need people that are either on the same level as me or above me to help me motivate and get higher,” Cole said.

I’d rather spend $40 on my friends’ brands than at Supreme. That $40 is going to go to something way bigger and way better.
— Tyler Calpin

Effortlessly, Cole has found a place in Pittsburgh’s creative scene by being friendly meeting new people. His Elisa Jones designs carry the same relatable trait that “touch people.” Next, the brand will have a pop-up shop on April 27 at Shop Zed’s in the South Side along with Geechi P’s brand Safe Haven.

Read the full transcript between Cole, Tyler Calpin and Tutu below.


David Cole: I’m from New York City.

InTheRough: I checked out the Robert Morris University basketball roster and saw you were on it. Is that how you got to Pittsburgh?

Cole: Yeah, that’s what made me come to Pittsburgh.

ITR: How long have you been playing basketball for?

Cole: I’ve been playing basketball since seventh grade. I’ve been playing for eight or nine years now.

ITR: When did you notice you got good?

Cole: High school, Sophomore year is when I got my first Division 1 offer from Manhattan College.

ITR: How was it playing basketball in New York? Rucker Park and the public parks are intense competition on some manly shit.

Cole: Well, when I was growing up we didn’t really play at Rucker. We played in Dyckman, Tri-State, and in my neighborhood we had the Y-Zone. So, basically we would go between those three tournaments. Those were the most popular tournaments. Dyckman was always very competitive. You got old NBA players coming to play over there. Tri-State was very popular. Those two tournaments were the best tournaments in New York.

ITR: How would you describe your basketball style? What sneakers were you wearing?

Cole: Nike. I went to Christ The King so we were a LeBron school. We got a bunch of LeBrons.

ITR: Did that influence you when you were picking your school, like a Nike school or adidas school?

Cole: Basketball basically influenced. Coming up from the neighborhood where I’m from, things were always rough. Basketball was a way out for kids. That’s how we saw ourselves as succeeding. It was either play basketball or be around the people on the block. Even if you were to play basketball the people on the block would get along with you and mob with you. Basketball has been a savior for a lot of people and I say that for a lot of people in New York. I can speak for them. If it wasn’t for basketball, a lot of people wouldn’t be who they are. They wouldn’t be anybody. They would kind of just give up. I would say basketball is very important to almost everybody in New York that participates.

ITR: Where is the intersection of streetwear, sports and music?

Cole: Fashion. I love fashion. Music, I listen to a lot of people who are really not in the industry, like Kayo and my friends and family OTN.

ITR: So OTN is like a crew of yours?

Cole: OTN is a family. OTN is seven people. We all grew up with the same dream, which is basketball. As we got older, times started to get rough. Certain people didn’t have that basketball path. Others had the basketball path. However you were going to get it, how were you going to be a more successful person. We got rappers, we got entrepreneurs (me being myself), we got someone that’s in the NBA, and we got another person that’s playing college basketball. Everybody in the group is aiming for some type of success.

ITR: But you occupy both those lanes with the basketball dreams and the entrepreneurial side.

Cole: More not even the entrepreneurial side, I mean, when I really fell in love with fashion, that’s what made me get into my brand. I like VLONE. I like Bstroy. Shout out to Disco Inferno, especially A$AP Ant, if he sees this, my mans YG Addie. Shout out to all of them. I love them. I love the way they paved for us in this world when it comes to fashion. Me continuing to get my money and I know I have all these ideas in my head that I can produce on my own and make the same impact as them.

I actually sat down with my girlfriend one day and I told her I was like listen, “It’s time for me to make my brand. I talk about it like I want to do it, but it’s time for me to actually do it.” When it was time for me to make my brand, that’s when, shout out to Ivan (Ivan as you know owns SOSIMO), I was telling him all of my ideas. Between him and my mans Dachon Burke, I was telling them all of my ideas. Listen, “I wanna run this brand and everything.” Dachon Burke knew so much too because he was my teammate last year at Robert Morris. He and I came up into fashion. Dachon, Isaiah Still (ForWeird), and I came up into fashion. It was really big to us. Shout out to Ivan. Ivan basically told me he was like listen, “I’m going to be honest with you. I see you have some very creative ideas. I have someone who you can go to and get your garments done with them. They can make it for you. You gotta provide them the designs and make sure all the designs are on par and everything will be good from there.” Basically, from there, that’s when I started telling myself, “Okay, I got all these ideas. I got all these good drawings in my head and I really can’t sketch. Aw man, I need to find a good graphic designer.” So, in my head, I know what graphic designers to get. Like, I’ve had friends that had graphic designers that they gave things to and they would take it from there and give it to somebody who they feel like is more successful and feel like they presented something. So, it really wasn’t none of that. It’s really them just stealing the idea. That was my biggest fear personally. I’m going around looking and then I met my guy Tutu at Tyler Calpin’s “Searching For Jenny” (art exhibit). I met him and he was like, “Yeah, I do graphic design.” I’m like alright bet. We’re going to get in touch. I’m going to see what you can do basically ‘cause there’s a lot of people that say they can do things and you just gotta research for yourself. I know he’s got his own brand going, HeatKlub. I see what he’s doing.

Dachon Burke and @rah_mccoy in the black “Memorial Tee” | Burke photo by VALE™

It started with the public housing hoodie that I did. I have three items in my brand. I’ll explain each one of them and make sure you get a good understanding. But, it started with the public housing hoodie with Tyler. I told him I wanted to do something for my neighborhood. That was my first big piece to really mean something. I wanted it to express where I come from. I live in LefRak City. LefRak isn’t projects. It’s a public community, but the environment in LefRak City is a very tough environment. I said to myself that I’m going to make a public housing hoodie, but it’s not going to be my building technically ‘cause I’m not a public housing building. I’m saying to myself everything that happens in public housing is either drugs, money or murder. Drugs, money and murder. If you know public housing, people are usually trying to sell drugs or do drugs. Get money. Money is important to everybody in life. Murder crime rates in projects are higher than other places. I told Tutu I need three buildings to look similar to my building. I just want the whole theme, sort of the whole font, like it’s a flesh wound font, it needs to be an old school type of feeling ‘cause it’s way back. LefRak goes way back. I grew up there my whole life. Basically, it means a lot. Within like two days, he sent me over some work. I looked at it and I’m like, “Yo, this is crazy. This looks tough, but is this really going to come out like this after I give it to Daniel?” Daniel is Revival Print Company. I really don’t know what’s going to happen and we end up getting the hoodie and I’m like, “Yo, this hoodie is tough.” So then from there I’m like alright bet I can trust Daniel. I can trust Tutu. I got my group that I can work around at the moment. It’s really a blessing to have people that you can trust. I just came back from L.A. yesterday. Shout out to my guy Keeon Scott, CreamAAWheat. That’s my brother. He put me on to a garment manufacturer out there. Me and my man Lazarus, we’re about to get some work done. We’re about to get very intense into some garments. I’m still going to be doing what I’m doing now with the images, but certain pieces will be less images and more going on to it. That’s what I’m transitioning over to right now. I also have the memorial tee. As I said, where I came from everybody looked at basketball as a way out. Everybody had that dream regardless if they are gangsters now, resting in peace or, you feel what I’m saying. They all came up with that same dream. I know people that lost their life that had hoop dreams. I know people that couldn’t continue hoop dreams because they had to go get it whichever way they had to go get their money and provide. I said to myself I need to make a T-shirt that’s going to standout and actually speak in a way. I’m going to do a memorial tee, so these are for the people that had these dreams and just letting them know that they’re not forgotten. You’re still out there. We still remember you. On the back I put for my dead homies for the people that passed away, and that’s what the bullet holes are on the shirt for. Due to violence, we have a memorial classic going on for the people that couldn’t fulfill their dreams. We’re showing them love. That was my first shirt. Then it was the public housing hoodie and then after I made the Elisa Bart hoodie. The whole theme of this one was this: I’m a young African American man. You know how it goes with cops. I’ve known people who have been violated by cops. I’ve seen enough videos. I’m pretty sure everybody can understand that cops sometimes abuse their rights. That’s way above for me to actually answer, but for my personal experience with cops, I feel like they do crazy things sometimes. So I said I’m going to do a Bart Simpson hoodie that is basically stating we don’t really fuck with cops. We’re not rocking with cops. That’s why I got the cop as a pig. 12 is from slang instead of putting a police department. It’s a different understanding. My work, I want it to be looked at and I want you to have to ask questions about it. I don’t want you just to buy something. I want you before you buy it to DM me and ask me and I can explain it. Tutu did this too. I had told Tutu put Bart riding on top of the cop car with no cop in it. And I remember he was done with the whole design. I was like, “Bro, this isn’t good enough. I need you to go back and spice it up for me.” I came up with the idea with my friend Dachon. We were dead on the phone for like three hours. I told Tutu I need the cop to be a pig and I need both of them in the car. I don’t care what you do from there make it happen for me. He surprised me with some wonderful work. Actually, so far it has been my best piece. I thank God for him. I thank God for my girlfriend. I thank God for everybody that’s around me. Dachon, Ivan, Isaiah, Keeon, Laz, Tyler, I thank everybody that’s around me because without seeing all the creativity that’s going on around me in life, then you really won’t be able to experience it.

David Cole, Tutu & Tyler Calpin | Photos by Alex Young

David Cole, Tutu & Tyler Calpin | Photos by Alex Young

If you trap yourself in something and not experience the outside world around you, you won’t really know what’s going on. You’ll just be stuck to your own regular routine. It’s kind of a blessing to have the people that I have around me. I only surround myself with people that have the same goals as me. What I mean by goals, let me clarify, as long as you’re trying to succeed. As long as you’re never going to become complacent and satisfied with what you’re doing. As long as you’re true to yourself and know where you come from, I totally respect you and have no problem building a bond with you. It’s really a wonderful feeling. I actually do appreciate everybody around me. I’ve recently made friends with Geechi P. Geechi is a really interesting person. I want you to talk to Tyler for a little to get where he comes from as a part of the brand ‘cause he means a lot to the brand. Without him and his creativity, I really wouldn’t get anywhere as far as certain things getting done. I’m really thankful for him. I just want to shout out Pittsburgh Social Status. I appreciate you guys 100%. Shout out my beautiful girlfriend Kristina.

ITR: Who is Elisa Jones?

Cole: Shout out to my guy Aziz Donnadle. The brand is run by Aziz and I. One day, we were at home. I’m home on break my sophomore year, I’m like, “Yo, bro, we can really do this fashion.” I’m over here just talking with my mans and chillin’. I’m like, “Yo, bro, we could really make a fashion clothing line.” He’s like, “Let’s do it.” I’m like alright bet. Let’s think of a name. We’re sitting there thinking and it literally took us like 15 minutes. I was like we should name it after my mom. I love my mom Jacqueline Jones. She is my biggest role model. She played my mother and father role. Not only that, she’s everything to me. Basically, I was like we could use my mom’s last name. I said, “What’s your mom’s first name?” He said, “Elisa.” I was like okay that’s tough. I’m riding with Elisa. Smooth. Nobody can stutter over it. I’m like, “Elisa Jones.” His mom recently just beat a little stage of cancer so she means a lot to him as well. We’re doing Elisa Jones. Elisa Jones is smooth. It’s a true meaning. We love our mothers. Our mothers mean everything and much more. We owe them the world.

Shout out to the whole OTN too. Hamidou Diallo who is playing in the NBA, Jeffrey, James, Kevin, Elijah, Amadou, shout out to Fendi, Dudus, MallyMall (Somoli), shout out to some of my brothers I love them all OTN. Also, Jabari Bell always pushing me to strive.

ITR: How has it been finding talent in the city that you mesh with and work well with?

Cole: I knew Ivan first. Ivan introduced me to Tyler at Social Status. I met Tutu at Tyler’s event as I said. It all played out. I met Ivan ‘cause I used to always go to Social Status. I was a Bape fiend. I was a hypebeast once upon a time in my life. I kind of changed everything.

Tyler Calpin: You still are [laughs].

Cole: Nah, not even [laughs].

Calpin: Nah, you just do it different now, man.

Cole: I do it different. I only support my brands now. I don’t buy VLONE anymore. We went to the VLONE pop-up the other day. She [Kristina] spent $400 on a crewneck. I looked at her and told her she could’ve invested it in the brand [laughs].

Tutu: The Neighborhood one?

Cole: Yeah, the Neighborhood one.

Tutu: Owwww.

Tyler Calpin, Tutu and David Cole hitting the whoa | Photo by Alex Young

Tyler Calpin, Tutu and David Cole hitting the whoa | Photo by Alex Young

Cole: Basically, I support my friends. I knew Ivan had his own thing going. I did a photoshoot with Ivan in January. I did a photoshoot with him for his brand and we had a long conversation. He was touching up on everything with me and I was giving him my ideas. From there I knew I could trust Ivan. Ivan seemed like a real thorough, authentic person. When I was with Ivan, I met Tyler. Ivan is cool with Tyler. Tyler is cool. I’m over here talking to him we’re having a two-hour conversation. Don’t know Tyler from a can of paint. We maintained the two-hour conversation. Tyler is a cool person. I’m not from Pittsburgh. I’m trying to find people who I can trust. I got trust issues coming from where I’m from. I come to Tyler’s event, I see Tutu. Tutu looks like he got some style. Looks like he got some swag. I actually went up to Tutu and I’m like, “What’s good?” He’s looking at me like, “What’s good?” Just looking at me. I’m stepping out of my pride right now to come say what’s good to him and he’s over here telling me what’s good like I’m pressing him. I’m like alright I’m just going to keep going with it. “What’s your name?” He’s like, “Tutu.” Then we just started building from there. We followed each other on The Gram and we got more tight. Now, he’s my designer right now. I’m thankful for that.

Calpin: The implications of “what’s good,” as someone that’s not from New York, that’s crazy.

ITR: It’s hostile.

Calpin: It’s one of those things, man, you can’t build an empire without a team of people. Pittsburgh is a small enough city we’re all bound to be wrapped up in multiple things. I have my hands in four different brands that people are starting. I do my own thing. Something is going to stick. Something is going to hit. At the end of the day, it’s important to find success within yourself, but seeing your friends succeed is just as for me… David could blow up tomorrow and I’ll be super stoked for him. He could totally forget about me and I can just be like, “That’s sick. I got one of his first T-shirts. I was fuckin’ with him when he was coming to Social and doing his thing.” Seeing your friends succeed too is so sick, dude. My job, more or less, is to help them get to where they want to be. We’re all competition, but at the end of the day, we’re also part of the same community. We all have the same friends. That’s what’s going to elevate us. If you think about Neighborhood and how that brand started it was about that neighborhood in Japan (Harajuku) where three or four of the biggest Japanese clothing brands ever came out of the same spot in Japan. Who is to say we couldn’t do that in Downtown, Pittsburgh. When one person finds their success and they start to blowup, everyone else is going to get a ride. You have a higher standard at that point. This dude blew up. I gotta push harder.

Tutu: Yeah, that’s just how it is. I feel like right now in Pittsburgh everybody is kind of doing the same thing, but at the end of the day, the people who are real and are in this are going to be the ones that survive. A lot of people gain clout because they do clothing, this, that, and the third, but with stuff like this it’s a marathon.

ITR: Facts. Shout out Nipsey.

Tutu: Exactly. R.I.P. Yeah, you gotta take your time with it. You gotta be very precise I feel. I was blessed to meet these people that are in this store. That’s why I’m honestly here everyday. I meet very intricate people and people who help me work harder towards my goals. It just so happens that this place is also fresh. It keeps me fresh.

ITR: You, David and Tutu, are both from New York. Did you find you had similar tastes?

Tutu: Yeah, I feel like that’s a stereotype of being from New York or just being from a city that is a little bit more fashion forward. That’s why we hit it off at first type shit. It was because, “Oh, you’re from New York. Where in New York? Around New Rochelle.” I’m from New Rochelle.

Cole: I’m from Queens, LefRak City.

Tutu: That’s like 20 minutes away from New Rochelle. It was crazy because I’ve always had to tell people from Pittsburgh about New Rochelle, so when somebody came up to me talking about New Rochelle I was like, “Oh, shit. He knows. Let me keep talking to him and see what type of time he’s on.” Not to say I judge people from their Instagram, but I saw his Instagram and I was like okay he’s got some style. We got some similarities type stuff when it comes to our style. Why not collab? Why not do something that’s going to make something even bigger than we are? Because I have a real big passion for this, I feel like I gotta contribute any way that I can. If that means designing for somebody, then I’ll definitely do that. At the end of the day, it’s bigger than me no matter what.

ITR: Tyler touched on the competition aspect. We’re all in this community together. Tutu said a lot of people in Pittsburgh do the same shit. David has Elisa Jones. Tutu has HeatKlub. Tyler has his own thing but he just dropped a Searching For Jenny T-shirt with Reviving Real. Ivan got SOSIMO. Geechi P has Haven Project. Is there a fear of over-saturation?

Cole: No. We are all family and we all aim for the same thing.

ITR: Okay, yes. That could be the case, but at the same time, Pittsburgh is a small place. You all have different types of styles, but the aesthetic is very similar. How do you make sure you keep that unique?

Cole: You gotta make unique. We all got our own little pattern of how we do our work. You could look at all three of our works and see there’s a difference. You could see there’s a different theme or a whole picture going on. We all do three different things. In my head, as long as we stay separated from each other where it doesn’t look like we’re copying each other, and if we feel like we need to do that then we can collab, I think that we’re all separated. We all got our own uniqueness. That’s what made us all find each other. If it wasn’t for that then we all wouldn’t be in this situation. There’s people in Pittsburgh who I might think have a brand and I look at their Instagram and I’m like, “Nah. I don’t think he has the same ambition as me.” I’m not going to involve myself because that’s just going to bring me down. I need to be pulled up. I need people that are either on the same level as me or above me to help me motivate and get higher. It’s crunch time in life. You got one life. It’s crunch time. Everybody’s trying to get that bread. I have a mom I want to take out the hood. I understand it’s competition, but we could all help each other take our moms out the hood. Why not come together as one? If you want to talk about competition, how do you think the whole A$AP Mob feels? You got Bari the biggest, but then you still got A$AP Illz Disco Inferno. You still got A$AP Ant Marino. You still got Twelvyy Last Year Being Broke. They’re all eating though. At the end of the day, they’re showing us you could work with 50 people for all you care. You all could eat as long as you’re doing things that are different and you touch people.

It’s crunch time in life.

Tutu: For me, one thing that separates HeatKlub from everything else is the fact that HeatKlub is not a clothing brand. HeatKlub never started as a clothing brand for me. HeatKlub is more of a housing unit how David explained with OTN. It’s just a housing unit. I got people who are doing music. I got people that do videography, photography, and clothing. I would say the clothing that I put out under HeatKlub is more just to show the awareness. This is what HeatKlub is. When somebody is rocking HeatKlub you’ll be like, “What is HeatKlub?” Also, I want you to go and I want you yourself to do the homework. I don’t want to tell you what it is. Everybody’s approach is different with how this is. At least right now, I like to be behind the scenes. If I do get the accolades that come along with it, then whatever that’s great. But, right now, one step at a time. Very calculated steps about what I do.

Calpin: I think your comparison of all this and A$AP Mob and then dropping all those brands was so key. We’re all catering to the same niche of people. You see Tutu did graphic for you (David), he does it for himself, he did it for Haven Project. I know for a fact Ivan helped all three of you guys with your production.

Tutu: That’s a fact.

Calpin: What I do with Reviving Real caters to a completely different niche of people. That brand is in a little bit of a different mix, but the link that brings all of those things together is my involvement with everyone’s little bit. I do Ivan’s product shots. I shoot sick iPhone Instagram photos of you guys rocking your shit. You’re all catering to the same group of people, so when people start to see this is coming from David, people who are buying Ivan’s stuff are still going to buy your shit. They see Ivan’s fucking with you they’ll be like, “Oh, that guys cool. If he’s valid with Ivan, he’s gotta be a good dude.”

Cole: I ain’t gonna lie. That’s going on right now in Japan actually. He was actually Ivan’s customer and then he saw my friends and family piece on Ivan and was like, “I need two hoodies right now.”

Calpin: It’s a fire starter. One of those things is going to lead to somebody. The right person is going to see it whether it’s Elisa Jones, HeatKlub, SOSIMO, whatever the fuck. Someone’s going to get some attention and everyone is going to blow.

Cole: That’s why I give a lot of respect to A$AP Ant. The bond between me and A$AP Ant… I had ordered something from him and it took quite a while to get to me. I had to start calling him and be like, “Where’s my shit at?” He ended up sending me an extra package and was like, “My fault on that bro. I see you hoop. I support all hoopers.” He followed me on the Gram. After I started doing my brand with the public housing hoodie he was like, “Yo, that hoodie is tough. I need it.” I sent him the first hoodie and then he was like, “I need every colorway.” Being the person who I am, knowing A$AP Ant is kind of a cool feeling, but at the same time, we’re all doing the same thing. We’re all the same people. It’s cool, but we all could do the same shit. Why can’t I be just as good as them? The same way how they got up I could come up. The same way I could go down they could go down too. Nothing is impossible. This isn’t impossible. Speak things into existence. Be honest with yourself and keep it a buck around everybody around you.

Calpin: When someone with a bigger platform recognizes what you’re doing, you know you’re doing something right. Being recognized on a scale like that is fucking crazy. When I even saw that A$AP Ant liked the photo that I took of him or I saw that Illz reposted the photo I took of Tutu on both of his Instagram stories, bro, I called my mom. I was like, “Yo, people from the A$AP Mob are fucking with my shit on Instagram right now.” I mean, my mom is so caucasian it hurts, but she knows who the A$AP Mob is. She was like, “That’s fucking crazy. You mean like A$AP Rocky?” His people are rocking with me. She was like, “Damn.” To even just be recognized even if it’s second-hand recognization…

Tutu: It’s still something you can say that was done by you.

Calpin: Dude, I was on cloud nine for three fucking days thinking about that shit. I felt like big man in town. I’ve always wanted those people to see what I do. It’s going to happen more and more. One day, one of these people are going to see everything that I do on my own and they’re going to want that for themselves.

Cole: I can tell you one thing, being a person who is all about truth and being friendly, I met Keeon (CreamAAWheat) in New York City on my why to A$AP Illz pop-up in New Jersey with my girlfriend she was driving in traffic. He’s just riding his skateboard and he had One Up Skate Shop cargo pants on. I got out of the car and I said, “What do you know about One Up?” He said, “I am One Up!” I said, “You know Brandon?” He said, “Yeah, that’s my mans. I’m from Pittsburgh.”

Tutu: What? That’s crazy.

Calpin: I used to skate with Keeon back in the day. It’s really a testament to how small our community is. I did not know Davin three months ago. The first time we have a lengthy conversation he brings up Keeon. I said, “Oh, you mean CreamAAWheat?” He said, “Yeah, Keeon.” I was like you’re lying. I used to skate with that kid back in Ohio. It’s crazy how this world works, bro. Everybody is all over the place doing their thing, but it’s a lot smaller than you think. It’s crazy how this community is.

Tutu: Shout out to Social Status.

Cole: Shout out to [claps] Social Status. Shout out to Larry. Shout out to Tara.

Calpin: Shout out to Big Larry.

ITR: Lastly, Nipsey Hussle was just shot and killed. You got these bullet holes riddled through the “Memorial Tee.” How are you trying to change this violent culture?

Cole: Honestly, in life, people make mistakes. I know people who probably live the same life that Nipsey Hussle did. People try to change their life. The fact that someone so influential loses his life makes nobody feel safe. If somebody can take down Nipsey Hussle over…

ITR: Some bullshit.

Cole: Whatever it really is, to do that in broad daylight knowing he got kids and a wife shows you how coldhearted this world really is. I try to keep it real. It’s tough, man. All the gun violence needs to stop.

Geechi P's Award to The Most Stylish by Alex Young

As Part of Commendations for Pittsburgh 2018

Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 10.15.55 PM.png

To kickoff Commendations 3 by InTheRough, Geechi P sponsors the award he won last year, the most stylish award. Now, it is called “Geechi P’s Award to The Most Stylish.”

Geechi spent 2018 flying under the radar, but his influence still present. He collaborated with photographer Sarah Bader and streetwear gurus Social Status and Nike forming a lookbook to promote the Nike Air Max 270 sneaker. Additionally, Geechi P was an ambassador to his friends’ clothing brands like SOSIMO and HeatKlub. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh style icon readies to release his own label, Safe Haven.

The nominees for Geechi P’s Award to The Most Stylish people from Pittsburgh are as follows:

@artbrown

@igbohippie_

@pixburghcam

@tamiablue

@unamericandragon

@uncleden_

Look forward to commentary and interviews for all nominees of Commendations for Pittsburgh 2018 soon at intheroughstyle.com/year-in-review. The Commendation voting polls opening date is TBD. Keep working.

Sakony Has A New T-shirt for the 'Burgh by Alex Young

Sakony Burton | Graphic by Alex Young

Sakony Burton | Graphic by Alex Young

“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.

I only go outside to seek genuine connection and then go home.
— Sakony

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.

Sakony’s  new T-shirt  is limited to a 44 hour presale now  here .

Sakony’s new T-shirt is limited to a 44 hour presale now here.

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.

Sakony’s cover art for  Linwood’s  “Hate Breaking Hearts” single

Sakony’s cover art for Linwood’s “Hate Breaking Hearts” single

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.

I live for the love. If people continue to love me, nothing is for naught.
— Sakony

Streetwear Update by Alex Young

If you want to get in the game, move to further your product.

In 2011, Jake Sullivan walked into a local Pittsburgh clothing store called Timebomb. He bought powder blue Wiz Khalifa Taylor Gang Bombay Gin Cup shirts and sold them on eBay.

His enjoyment of clothing turned into a budding apparel and media company in 2015 that he operates with Steven Crump.

At the Make Sure You Have Fun Mixed Threads clothing fair in 2017, Crump and Sullivan were selling their own brand Good Sports. Even cooler, the experience came full circle because Ryan Brown, the designer of the Gin Cup shirt that Sullivan had bought years earlier, hosted the local streetwear market.  Another local apparel brand that was at the Mixed Threads market was Reviving Real.

Owners of Good Sports Jake Sullivan (left) and Steven Crump (right) | photograph by Alex Young

Owners of Good Sports Jake Sullivan (left) and Steven Crump (right) | photograph by Alex Young

[People could have] Pittsburgh clothes for the whole year if you look into it.
— Jake Sullivan of Good Sports

S.O.S.I.M.O. pushes a new T-Shirt concept seemingly every month. The brand drives demand for the product that sells out quickly as designer Ivan Rodriguez of Pittsburgh's east side, known as smoke.myth on Instagram, deals his shirts in person first and then off the Internet second. The gray SOSIMO Sluggers joint sold out in 21 hours. S.O.S. limited product only leaves the community trying to find more of it.

Now, Good Sports, Sports for short, Reviving Real, SOSIMO and more are examples of an emerging streetwear culture in the city.

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To have a brand you have to have people know the feeling. You want to make it have a meaning.
— Steven Crump of Good Sports

I asked if either of the Good Sports partners skates because that’s the feeling I got looking at their collections, like the Exordium run. Turns out, only Crump skates, but the love for culture grew from the two’s fondness of Nike SB sneakers back in seventh grade, P-ROD 2 specifically. That’s how they conceptualized “how everything ties together, the shoes, the clothes, the music,” Crump said.

Black and white monochrome tees with characters like Fidel Castro and Malcolm X's meeting in Harlem or Felix the Cat show the tone S.O.S. The archived culture is serious and familiar. The strongest of celebrated human history survives in the fabric of SOSIMO.

For Mike Caraballo, the founder of Reviving Real, his company succeeds because “a lot of us share a genuine love for what we are pursuing, as well as the culture of the city,” he said.

Sports try to support the culture too with a goal to “get more involved.” The 23-year-old Bethel Park and Wexford natives in Crump and Sullivan conduct an interview series called Pittsburgh Culture showing the energy coming out of the creative scene and “the ones behind it all.” Musician Linwood and thrift store owner and barber Zed have segments.

Caraballo noted clothing brands in Pittsburgh aim to help communities of local artists. They “are doing the most to not only serve the people with quality products but continue to help push the culture and arts here in the city,” he said.

via  @Shop412  on Instagram

via @Shop412 on Instagram

Aaron and Christian Kinkela, the brothers who operate the legendary Pittsburgh lifestyle label named after the city's 412 area code, said in a 2014 interview with ITR, "A lot of what we do is supporting the local economy with anything whether it's local seamstresses or local printers. A lot of things happen right here. That's another part of giving back and doing what you can to keep the money in this town."

A local online publication and conversation series called Style412 ran an audit on Pittsburgh’s fashion scene throughout 2016 and 2017. Style412 founder Elysia Newman mentioned authenticity attracts customers to a local business.

Consumers of this generation are placing value on immediacy, practicality, authenticity and the ‘small shop’ experience.
— Elysia Newman of Style412

With each clothing collection that Reviving Real releases, a music mixtape with highlights from Steel City hip-hop, other musicians and cover art by a local visual artist accompanies the release. “We like to curate sounds from artist around the city that we see working hard and putting that time and effort into their craft,” Caraballo said. “Vol. 3” of Reviving Real’s music compilation highlights this aspect through songs by My Favorite Color or Sierra Sellers. Reviving Real's latest "Idora" T-Shirt was a collaboration with artist Dalton (@lovedullt) that celebrated the Idora amusement park roller coasters. By branching out, Reviving Real roots itself to other communities. “The artists here can see what everyone else is doing and create connections with fellow artist,” Carabllo said.

Dalton's design for Reviving Real's "Idora" Tee

Dalton's design for Reviving Real's "Idora" Tee

Additionally, people have been receptive to Sports, obviously, we love our teams, but the Good Sports kind message and general aesthetic promote quality. Crump remembers local rapper Mars Jackson being the first notable person to wear their clothes. Quentin Cuff, a.k.a. InnerviewQ, has also been seen wearing Sports. Musician Benji wears his Doc Ellis T-Shirt that celebrates the Pirates baseball legend.

Part of creating a clothing label is selling a lifestyle and that’s what Good Sports does with their Pittsburgh Culture series and that’s what Reviving Real does with their showcase mixtape. SOSIMO does the same with reverent graphics.

“We are seeing an emergence of online lifestyle brands (versus the traditional boutique), which is definitely something new to our city,” Style412’s Panda said.

Although, vintage thrift shop Senseless in East Liberty creates an atmosphere people want to shop in by curating special experiences. For instance, Senseless, along with the help of craftsman Stew Frick, will release Nike Air Force 1 with the Swoosh donned by repurposed leather from Louis Vuitton handbags on July 6. Three different velcro LV Swoosh and colorful laces come with the sneaker.

Photographs by Tyler Calpin

The Sports’ lifestyle clothing, which is sold online at www.goodsportspgh.com and once at One Up Skate Shop and Shop Zeds in Pittsburgh’s Southside, isn’t trying to be in your face with its simplistic designs.  “A lot of things are just overdone now,” Crump said. He mentioned the We’re Proud long-sleeve shirt comes from looking at old ‘80s and ‘90s Sports Illustrated. Garments like polos and quarter zips highlight the ranges. 

[Make] moves to further the product.
— Shop412 in a 2014 Interview with ITR

With limited quantities in each Sports collection, “we focus on every little detail because they all matter,” Sullivan said. Patience helps them, as the business pays no attention to typical season-by-season collections.

Down the line, Crump and Sullivan hope to grow into a brick and mortar store, much like Shop412's store on the Southside, to build a Pittsburgh foundation.

As more clothes and culture stem from Pittsburgh, especially as native designers like John Geiger, Aris Tatalovich and Makayla Wray put on for the city in big markets like New York City, it just depends on "how it all gets put together," Crump said.


Portions of this article come from an ITR article written about Good Sports on April 4, 2018, to create a more thorough conversation on the streetwear scene in Pittsburgh.

 

Good Sports Get Involved by Alex Young

Jake Sullivan & Steven Crump of Good Sports | Photograph by Alex Young

Jake Sullivan & Steven Crump of Good Sports | Photograph by Alex Young

In 2011, Jake Sullivan walked into a local Pittsburgh clothing store called Timebomb. He bought powder blue Wiz Khalifa Taylor Gang Bombay Gin Cup shirts and sold them on eBay.

His enjoyment of clothing turned into a budding apparel and media company in 2015 that he operates with Steven Crump.

At the Make Sure You Have Fun Mixed Threads clothing fair in 2017, Crump and Sullivan were selling their own brand Good Sports. Even cooler, the experience came full circle because Ryan Brown, the designer of the Gin Cup shirt that Sullivan had bought years earlier, hosted the local streetwear market.

People could have “Pittsburgh clothes for the [whole] year if you look into it,” Sullivan said.

Now, Good Sports, Sports for short, is an example of an emerging streetwear culture in the city.

To have a brand you have to have people know the feeling. You want to make it have a meaning.
— Steven Crump
Photograph by Alex Young

Photograph by Alex Young

I asked if either of the partners skates because that’s the feeling I got looking at their collections, like the latest Exordium. Turns out, only Crump skates, but the love for culture grew from the two’s fondness of Nike SB sneakers back in seventh grade, P-ROD 2 specifically. That’s how they conceptualized “how everything ties together, the shoes, the clothes, the music,” Crump said.

What Sports is trying to do is “get more involved” in the culture. The 23-year-old Bethel Park and Wexford natives in Crump and Sullivan conduct an interview series called Pittsburgh Culture showing the energy coming out of the creative scene and “the ones behind it all.” Musician Linwood and thrift store owner and barber Zed have segments.

To that point, people in the city have been receptive to Sports, obviously, we love our teams, but the Good Sports kind message and general aesthetic promote quality. Crump remembers local rapper Mars Jackson being the first notable person to wear their clothes. InnerviewQ has also been seen wearing Sports.

Part of the Exordium Collection | Photograph by Sara Zataweski

Part of the Exordium Collection | Photograph by Sara Zataweski

The apparel side of the label isn’t trying to be in your face with its simplistic designs.  “A lot of things are just overdone now,” Crump said. He mentioned the We’re Proud long-sleeve shirt comes from looking at old ‘80s and ‘90s Sports Illustrated. Garments like polos and quarter zips highlight the Exordium range. 

With limited quantities in each Sports collection, “we focus on every little detail because they all matter,” Sullivan said. Patience helps them, as the business pays no attention to typical season-by-season collections.

Down the line, Crump and Sullivan hope to grow into a brick and mortar store for a Pittsburgh foundation.

Sports will produce more clothing when they're ready. "Everything is here it's just how it all gets put together," Crump said.