Fashion— it’s one of the creative arts that can be equally enjoyed by the designer, consumer & even the onlookers, people who just appreciate the art. It’s something we can’t escape, it’s all around us & now it’s becoming much more advanced than in the past. The world is becoming more evolved in The Arts, new visionaries are finally getting the chance to make their conceptions tangible, these creatives have access to knowledge & new techniques that weren’t available in the past. On the subject of building brands & creative visions— I believe that the defining factor, which makes a dream become reality, is ambition, but not just ambition alone. You have to dedicate your time & essentially your life to the goals you want to achieve— that’s what sets differences, that’s why some make it & others fail. A. Johnson, CEO/Creative Director of Demode has a vision like no other. It’s easier to make a connection with the designer because his work closely resembles him as an individual. That allows admirers to be sure in their purchase, as it not only supports the brand, but the designer & his ideals as well. In many cases, there seems to be a disconnect between brands and their designers— There’s no synergy— it feels like the product is just statement or something to flaunt, never giving an intimation of its origin or purpose. A. Johnson does something different. His work isn’t “hype” & it doesn’t follow trends— it sets them. And, it encourages the dying notion of individuality. Designers have more power & influence than many of them know or utilize. But in A. Johnson’s case, that fact seems to be well understood & honored. He knows that his work is influential & he moves strategically. I think essentially, the most positive & fundamental aspect of not only fashion, but also life— is individuality. It’s a beautiful process, to share your personal ideals with others as they accept them & share their own. That’s how we grow and evolve. I see Demode as that first step in evolution.
In our discussion, a lot was revealed— The designer speaks on success, inspirations & Demode’s beginnings. Read the interview below & let us know what you think in the comments.
Give us a few details about your background, what was growing up like for the creator of Demode?
24 Years Old. From Long Island, NY. I am inspired by art and culture, I believe that there is art in every aspect of life where we least expect it. Visually and design oriented I am heavily influenced by what goes on in everyday life. I like challenging myself to take basic ideas and give them an expensive and high quality visual. I admire streetwear and High Fashion so I try to incorporate both aspects all in one. I lived in Japan for a year and that completely enhanced my cultural view and definitely made me more inspired to travel as well as incorporate different races.
What is Demode, how do you pronounce it?
Démodé is a french word meaning old fashioned, retro, out of style. I wanted it to be completely an oxymoron in a sense. It’s really pronounced like “Day-Mo-Day” it’s one of those names such as Givenchy or Hermès, it’s less about the pronunciation and more on the visual way it can be recognized. I typically say it as “D-Mo-Day” others say “D-Mode” but correctly speaking it is “Day-Mo-Day”
What is the theme around Demode?
I don’t put my brand into a specific theme or category because different pieces speak to different individuals. Where I am now in my brand I make a number of pieces to test the waters and to get a feel for that my market likes the most. Demode is based around me as an individual and what I personally want for myself, I create it and build a market around it.
What valuable lessons have you learned since being in the field?
Everything takes time, you can’t force creativity and you never really know what people will like until you believe in it yourself enough. Handling every aspect of this business allows me to see everything that goes on, the rights, the wrongs. So I can say that one valuable lesson that I’ve learned is to be patient and be consistent.
What is your favorite design?
Amongst the masses, can’t really decide on a favorite.
It’s almost like startup clothing brands are becoming a trend, today you can make a site & sell whatever, (& people do, these online stores are everywhere) In such a crowded market, how do you differentiate Demode & what makes it different from these pop-up clothing lines?
Haha – First Off, I respect anyone following their dreams but the difference between Démodé and these other pop-up brands is that these brands have one or two pieces, that’s not a clothing line. They do it for a trend or for quick money, that’s not my focus. It’s a love for fashion first, being able to create and keep creating is what my brand is about. The possibility of “Whats next”. Within a few months I’ve reached an international level on the daily. The grind behind Démodé separates it from “Competition”.
When I first saw Demode, I knew it was something unique & special, something that was designed with creativity, not just a means to make profit, but an expression, which is what all brands should aspire to embody. What is the creative energy that drives Demode, how do you find your inspiration?
I’m inspired by everything, the thing that people like most about my brand is that it’s all over the place. Not meaning unorganized but I have different styles in my brand and it still represents the brand. I make stuff for myself and people love it, so my brand is a representation to myself. The potential that my next design could be the “One” inspires me to keep going, in this business you have to find your motivation.
No matter how brilliant an artist is, sometimes creativity is… less creative than usual. What do you do when you feel like you’ve hit a rough spot, how do you get your creative juices flowing?
I’ll watch a movie or something, surf the net or just go take photos in whatever city I’m in. I’m the best at just being myself. It’ll come when the time is right. Never force creativity.
What’s the significance behind the “Tumblr Inspired” pieces, how’d those come about?
I started the tumblr inspired pieces because I see how huge tumblr impacts people, not only on a fashion level but on an art level in itself. I come across a number of pieces on tumblr that have amazing buzz but are only a “one-of-one” type piece. It starts off with me just wanting one for myself so I create it, then others respond with I want that as well so I capitalize on the idea and let people know that it in fact is not my original idea but is based off a tumblr inspired piece.
How was the initial reception, was Demode received as well as you expected in the beginning?
When I first began it was definitely a trial and error process. With good marketing I was able to get the brand noticed and in the hands of some popular individuals. Once sales started coming, I began having a ton of emails concerning quality issues, so it was back to the drawing board. So the initial reception of the brand was both good and bad, good for the right attention, bad for not being up to par with quality.
Some of your inspirations when it comes to well established brands & designers?
Most definitely inspired by Raf Simons, as well as Virgil Abloh, their visions are incredible and the thought process they must go through to create is genius as well.
What is your take on success, what does success mean to you?
Success to me basically means living the life you are happy with, being able to accomplish any goal you may have makes you successful. People feel like money determines success, there are different levels of success. For me being successful means being financially stable and being able to put my family in a better position for the future. Being able to have complete freedom over my creations is success.
I like to think that the next wave of creativity is breaking, we’re at the cusp of some truly revolutionary works to be discovered. How do you feel about the current streetwear & fashion scene? Is it innovative enough, is it good or bad?
The thing about streetwear is that there really isn’t a standard to live by. It mainly depends on the individual. I love the streetwear fashion scene, its everyday style especially on the youth scene. As far as it being innovative, I think all fashion is constantly changing it may not be drastic but you can tell that there are a lot more personal feelings being put into the new designs of these upcoming brands. I think expression is definitely being accepted more now and that’s completely cool.
You’re an idol to many admirers & consumers, what words of wisdom or guidance do you have for aspiring designers & creatives.
Be yourself, don’t let anyone else determine where you go in life. Trust your creativity and have a good support system behind you. At the end of the day, make sure you’re doing what you love and for the right reasons.