streetwear

Tee Time by Alex Young

Emerging Streetwear Companies

“Compelling visual style, backstory and feel,” that’s the blueprint for building an influential brand according to Grailed. The buy-sell marketplace app asserted this opinion in a history piece describing the “Rise of Japanese Street Culture” through the late ‘80s and in to the ‘90s in Harajuku. Essentially, the canon of streetwear fashion, the Japanese section pertaining to Hiroshi Fujiwara, Nigo and others pivotal to the scene, all created their brands and legacies in the same neighborhood making a bridge between music and fashion. The success of one boosted more opportunity and success for another. These fashion icons asserted their “loyalty to sister brands with continual collaboration and cross-pollination,” Harsh Patel wrote in a 2010 piece for Interview Magazine. Partnerships with each other drove consumers to desire every brand involved in the movement.

Japanese Street Culture: Nigo, Hiroshi Fujiwara and Jun Takahashi | New York Street Culture: A$AP Mob

Draw the parallel. Take the model to modern day Harlem with the A$AP Mob. Members of the clique seamlessly fused hip-hop and fashion. A$AP Rocky exploded, and each A$AP member has found success whether it’s music or, particularly here, fashion. Streetwear brands grew out of the A$AP Mob without inhibiting the other’s success: Disco Inferno, Marino Infantry and VLONE. Each thrives, just as the core Japanese streetwear companies founded and remain: A Bathing Ape, Neighborhood and Undercover.

This style, camaraderie and entrepreneurship is a global culture practiced by many artists. As it happened in Japan and New York, it occurs now in Pittsburgh.

Top row:  SOSIMO  &  HeatKlub  | Bottom Row: SOSIMO x  Haven  &  Elisa Jones  | Middle: Ivan Rodriguez, Sakony Burton &  Tyler Calpin  on  Désir  hoodies

Top row: SOSIMO & HeatKlub | Bottom Row: SOSIMO x Haven & Elisa Jones | Middle: Ivan Rodriguez, Sakony Burton & Tyler Calpin on Désir hoodies

There’s a crew inhabiting and working at Social Status, using the welcoming streetwear boutique as a meeting spot to build ideas with each other and talk about the culture in a relevant establishment. Ivan Rodriguez and Tyler Calpin, while they are sales associates at Social Status, they use the store’s customer influx to build a network helping grow their personal brands, SOSIMO for Rodriguez and Calpin’s eponymous brand. With them, David Cole, Geechi P, Sakony Burton and Tutu feed off the Social Status energy, as well as their relationships with each other, which has created a budding streetwear community. Cole operates Elisa Jones, Geechi P has Haven, Burton runs Désir, and Tutu supplies graphic designs to Elisa Jones, Haven and his own project HeatKlub. Calpin spends time with all of them working in Social Status’ Downtown, Pittsburgh location where Cole frequents and the East Liberty location where Rodriguez works. Calpin adds compelling visuals and cool documentation to SOSIMO, Elisa Jones and HeatKlub, or companionship and advice to Burton. Burton and Rodriguez influence each other. “If it wasn’t for him [Ivan Rodriguez], 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,” Burton said.

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Calpin and Cole were the ones to draw comparisons from Japanese and New York street cultures to the current situation in The ‘Burgh. Each of the brands could eat "as long as you touch people,” Cole said during his upcoming InTheRough interview at Social Status Downtown. “We all could help each other take our moms out the hood.”

Aris Tatalovich Eyelet T-shirt by Alex Young

Product photo via  Instagram

Product photo via Instagram

Design, screen-print, cut and sew, Aris Tatalovich has the tools to keep his brand in-house.

Recently, 19-year-old Tatalovich made waves with his Sticky Note Cardholder. The wallet, made from handcrafted Italian leather, featured three individual Post-it note style cardholders that connected with Velcro. The concept and execution flexed the designer’s ingenuity.

People just want to cop and be on it because there’s a certain stigma around it. I guess that’s where people differentiate. Like people would rather have that and don’t care about quality and better product and just rather have hype. But I’m trying to change that, I guess, and make people focused on I have better quality, better product, better ideas, better concepts, everything better just no hype… I have taste is what I’m saying.
— Aris Tatalovich during his episode of the Non Disclosure Agreement Podcast

The next product coming from the Tatalovich fashion house is brand T-shirts. “Aris” text emboldens on the chest as the “i” has an embroidered, colored, eyelet dotting the “i.” Aris’ last name underlines his first. The tees release on March 31 for $78 USD. Three colorways will be available. Although which three is to be determined. Comment below to let the designer know what color you want.

Modeling and Styling, Meech Loves Himself and His Clothes by Alex Young

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Meech Mackey

“What you see on the Internet isn’t what you see in real life.”

‘The culture’ hit the broadside of IKEA. Meech, a 19-year-old who called Ian Connor, Luka Sabbat, Virgil Abloh and Bloody Osiris his style idols, played a similar fashion role at the furniture store. He might as well been shopping for his dorm room as he plans to attend college next fall. But really he displayed his outfit against the varying decor in the showroom, a bright yellow IKEA shopping bag in hand to look the part. He called himself and the mentioned fashionistas different. “Being themselves actually,” Meech finished. “I love being myself.”

Likewise, the Moon Township, Pa. native, also loves clothes. Officially named Demetrius “Meech” Mackey, he wants to become a celebrity stylist, and in the meantime, he’s a signed model for Docherty Agency.  Finding a balance between high and low-fashion while supporting upstart designers is what helps his taste be “fashionable.” Meech began in seventh grade as a self-described sneakerhead though.

Photos of Meech by Alex Young

Photos of Meech by Alex Young

The pure blue IKEA facade caught cool looks with Meech in front of the camera lens and the building. He donned an Angelo Numa tie-dye puffer coat with exquisite sleeves. Numa studies at SCAD in Atlanta, Ga. Unlike his accessories, the top and trousers were subdued fresh with a black-white stripe shirt and black jeans with a red stripe down the outside leg. The Off-White™ Air Jordan 1  Chicago with neon green and orange laces covered his feet. Four chains on his neck. Gucci pouch across his chest. Louis Vuitton phone case.

If you’re worried about what people think, you’re not gonna achieve anything.
— Meech

Bringing up the Off-White™ x IKEA collaboration, Meech seemed to be aware of fashion’s current climates. He called the Bloody Osiris swag “outrageous” and applauded A$AP Rocky for delivering fashion to a new generation of rappers like Playboi Carti. “That’s a pretty mothafucka,” he said about Rocky.

Meech also knew what’s what in Pittsburgh citing designer Aris Tatalovich as a hopeful peer. “That’s why I was at the party [Year End Review with DJ Based Grvce]. I thought he was gonna be there,” Meech said. Remember Bloody Osiris in the lookbook for Tatalovich’s Stingray backpack. Meech also noted designer John Geiger and model Donovan Green as other people from the ‘Burgh who contribute to the broader fashion scene.

Additionally, Meech connects with local photographers like Devon Colebank to support his image. His goal is to work with well-known photographer Jordan Beckham. More exposure will come from his episode on the “I’ll Call You Right Back” podcast.

Despite the Pittsburgh praise, Meech acknowledged that culture moves slowly here like "Mo Bamba." That song’s "been a hit. I was into that six months before it was a hit,” he said.

The power of the Internet is a “controlling” influence Meech said. “What you see on the Internet isn’t what you see in real life. People don’t get that yet.”

When Travis Scott came to Downtown, Pittsburgh for his “Wish You Were Here” tour, Meech got a standing room only ticket because “I love raging, enjoying the time,” he said. “I’ve been with him since day 1, not like these hypebeast people saying ‘Sicko Mode’ is the best song on the album. ‘Houstonfornication’ fire. ‘NC-17’ fire,” Meech said. That’s his young energy, linking with other artists through Instagram DMs for photoshoots, prowling to various events starting mosh-pits dripped down with a Gucci pouch or Supreme this Supreme that, but he’s got enough taste to wear a tie too.

Still excited about the home furnishings in IKEA (first timer), Meech shared the advice, “If you’re worried about what people think, you’re not gonna achieve anything.”

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.

 

Schenley High School Memorabilia by Alex Young

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Three years ago, Hannibal Hopson hopped up on the ledge of a construction dumpster and climbed through the broken bathroom window in the first floor of what was his Schenley High School. The facility looked different. There weren't lockers or functioning classrooms with desks. There were no school club flyers on the walls. No students or teachers in sight. Instead, the floors were dusty with wood residue from sawing and sanding. A bulldozer sat in the hallway. Hopson pushed past wires that hung down from the ceiling. Creeks and screech echoed through the hollow building. The basketball court that was home to former Pennsylvania State Champion Spartans had cracks in it. People began picking the wood off the court. Concrete scraps from the deconstruction project were thrown in the empty pool. The construction workers littered their lunch scraps in the showers. They were turning Schenley High School into an apartment complex, effectively displacing inner-city students who called the place their alma mater for 95 years.

Now, the Schenley Apartments mock alumni and the history that came from Schenley High School.

In an attempt to memorialize the legendary school, Hopson and InTheRough partner to offer memorabilia to celebrate what once was. We created a two-page magazine spread in the latest issue of Pittsburgh-based EW Mag publication. The spread features photos from the night Hopson and ITR explored the empty school three years ago. Photos and words begin to comment on the gentrifying aspect that the apartments imposed on the Schenley community. Additionally, authentic Schenley gym shorts pair with the reading material. The Champion mesh shorts feature a "Schenley" font taken from the basketball jerseys of the 2007 Spartans who won the state championship thanks to legends like DeJuan Blair, DeAndre Kane and D.J. Kennedy.

The magazine spread and shorts combine to create the Schenley High School Memorabilia Collection. Available are 10. More shorts will be available only after the combo sells out. The 11 photos from the excursion around abandoned Schenley High School will release at a later date.

Shop the collection here.

[Shorts model Don Bell & photographs by Alex Young]