Exclusive: DBM Founder Discusses Kanye West VMA Speech Inspired Tees & Chicago Fashion

There were a lot of things to complain about during the MTV VMA’s earlier this Sunday. Most of those things had to do with the host, Miley Cyrus. If you forget about Miley doing Miley for a minute, you should remember that Kanye West delivered one of the better acceptance speeches in recent history while also, most likely facetiously, announcing that he will be running for the White House in 2020. Regardless if Kanye was serious or not, founder of DBM, Joe, quickly tweeted this out after Kanye accepted the Vanguard award:

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The very next day, he sent this out:


If you’re unfamiliar with DBM, they’ve picked up momentum faster than Tyga and Kyle Jenner’s relationship raises eyebrows by putting out pieces when they feel like it and how they feel like it. While their flagship collections are quality made and well thought out with themes, they are known to also come up with an idea inspired by pop culture and then release them in limited quantities the next day. We had the opportunity to ask Joe a few questions about his two new tees that were created as a result of Kanye’s speech as well as the current state of mainstream fashion. Be sure to follow Joe on Twitter to find out when he’ll be dropping the two tees on Friday.

In classic DBM fashion, you tweeted the above statement. Then you proceeded to put out the video the next day. Do you ever have a moment in the process of putting out a tee where you second guess your gut instincts to make shirts on the spur of the moment? What makes you so confident in putting them out or you just DGAF?

This year I decided to trust my gut when it comes to releasing things. I feel like the past few years I’ve slept on some really good ideas only to let someone else do it and win. I just wanted to win this year. Also, staying true to “streetwear” you gotta be quick with them ideas. It’s a small window between something being cool and played out. I pride myself on having an idea on Monday and it being on the webstore Tuesday.

How many different designs did you have before you settled on the most recent Kanye ones?

Right after Ye’s speech I went to the drawing board. I knew exactly how I wanted it to look so when I met up with my graphic [designer] the next day we bounced around a few ideas and both shirts were done in a hour.

I feel like part of the fun you have with owning different brands (Fat Tiger, Vita Morte, DBM) is that each has its own character from design and theme to production and presentation. DBM is definitely the chop, wrap, and go vehicle for your moments of street genius. Is that true to some extent?

Very true. With clothing I like to attack all markets but in clever ways. I know DBM isn’t for everybody. That’s why we have Vita and Fat Tiger. With DBM it’s honestly about trolling. I want people to ask you what you’re wearing. I want kids to get in trouble for wearing certain pieces. I just like provocation conversation with clothes. DBM gives me that platform.

Do you really think Kanye will run for President? What is his first act as President?

Of course he’s not really running for president. He was off that good L.A. weed.

All joking aside, he had some good points in his acceptance speech. How important do you really think listening to the younger adults (18-25 year olds) of today’s generation is when it comes to clothing, music, and art? What have you learned from your community and your customers/people who come to the parties about clothing and music?

The youth is what keeps everything moving. I’m like a young OG now so I keep my ear to what’s going on. Most of our customers/party goers are young so I just always know what’s happening around the world in their eyes. It’s easy for me to create because I move around a lot. And I also get inspired at how many youth I inspire. Keeps me wanting to keep people guessing.


You’ve been in the game for quite some time now even before DBM. What has been your favorite capsule/season so far? What about a specific piece out of your whole catalog?

I have a ton of favorites but the Rihanna “I Wanna F*ck” collection was just memorable because I made a ton of money off a high ass idea [laughs] and ended getting a cease and desist from her people. Sh*t was lit.

Is it safe to say yet in fashion and clothing that the more interesting stuff from new brands has no classifications like “just” streetwear or performance wear, similar to genres in Hip-Hop?

Fashion game weird now. “Luxury Streetwear” kinda made things stupid now. I realized everybody looks at things different so it’s hard to put a title on it. Whenever old people ask me what I do for a living I just say, “make clothes rappers wear.” It’s hard to explain to people the difference between urban, street, and luxury. All of it stupid though. I just make clothes.

What’s dope to see is the number of clothing trends Chicago started in streetwear or basically what became streetwear like the special fitteds that inspired Don C and Crucial Conflict with your towel shorts. Are there other ones people outside of Chicago might not know about?

Shout out to Don, that’s my big homie. He’s a revolutionary with this fashion sh*t. When I peep how the world picked up on the “buck-50” hats I knew I could flip another Chicago classic with the towel situation. Chicago has birthed some of the flyest n*ggas in the world. I’m pretty sure another trend from here gonna catch fire soon. Shout out to Virgil as well, they shifted the culture.

Do you have any plans to start any other side hustles? Or just focusing on your brands right now?

I plan on opening a restaurant in a few years next–bodega style sandwich spot in Chicago that sells all different types of sandwiches and all different types of blunts.

Bryan Hahn will write in Kanye West and Rhymefest in 2020. He’s on Twitter (@notupstate).