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Founded in 2015 by Permanent Wave and Dos Global, Product品 (pronounced Product or Product House) is an American multidisciplinary creative studio and clothing brand. With a heavy emphasis on cut-and-sew garments and locally-sourced production, the brands’ striking graphics and unique construction represent the founders’ personal journeys and experiences.
Read more below and stay tuned for their upcoming releases.
‘Individually, what’s your personal history with fashion? Did you guys have brands before Product品?
PW: Yes for the both of us, but for me, as far as like, I guess, my journey in fashion, I’ve just worked retail and I’ve seen a bunch of different sides of the fashion industry from retail to production to buying and selling at trade shows. So I hadn’t really had a brand before but I feel like with a lot of what I was doing, I was almost creating sort of this visual brand for myself where people could kinda at least try to understand like to know who I was, just from different things I was doing. But the first thing that I did actually was under Permanent Wave, but it was like the first project me and Dos worked on in like 2013.
DG: Yeah, definitely Permanent Wave. Like I remember ‘09, 2010, that was my favorite Blogspot. We met each other prior, like 2009, at Columbia College in Chicago. I remember he was on some fresh stuff. I went to this spot he was working at and I remember copping like a Brooklyn Circus tee or something. That era was, I don’t know, different times. I fucked with his blog, because his blog was talking about Needles in like, 2009. You know what I mean, talking about Kapital, talking about these brands that are like household right now. Like back in 2009, 2010. When I was like, fresh out of high school kid not knowing shit about nothing, you know what I mean? That personal journey shit, I used to do t-shirts for some bogus-ass mall brands and shit, people who don’t need any credit or nothing. I used to do t-shirts for they ass and like little designs here and there and then it just made more sense to work with Najee because motherfuckers think the same way and it’s a better energy.
Do you guys have set roles within Product品?
DG: You know, I mean, we both design the same in Product品. For me and Najee. It’s like, bounce idea, think tank, design.
PW: I feel like that’s pretty much how it works. I feel like if I wanted to be technical, Dos is classically trained as a graphic designer. So anything that you see from us, you know, on a graphic tee, the logo, Dos came up with that. Anything on the graphic end that you see is his handiwork, but as a result of like he said, a think tank.
DG: Oh, yeah, because a lot of times there’ll be graphics you come up with was like, Oh, shit, I’ll do that real quick. You know what I mean? But you’ll have a sketch. So I feel like it’s so back and forth. It’s so think tank. And we both kind of have like similar cultures. He’s from Chicago, I’m from Atlanta, and we both are like, just deep, black culture, you know what I mean? And I think a lot of those ideas, like the airbrushing and certain screen prints, some of the images we use, all come from that same energy. I think it makes the “think tank” environment work a little bit better.
Do you guys pull your references and inspiration from specific places?
PW: I mean, I don’t know. It sounds wild, but the inspirations literally come from everywhere. Not even like in a linear way, like sometimes like all at once. I think the Fantastic Planet tee was kind of an opportunity to be literal for a moment, even like the concept to freak that. That era of Jordan who was kinda like this fantastical athlete, for any time, but especially for that time. That was like our ode to streetwear, like the type of streetwear and those types of flips that we kind of grew up on and grew to love. But yeah, overall like the references, that stuff gets deep. I mean that’s literally that’s what we do all day, every day, analyzing those references and using references but not being referential in the final product. You don’t want to just bite and flip as much as we might want to because it’s like ‘damn, that would be bugging.’ We take a step back and think about, ‘What story do we want to tell overall, outside of this one drop?’
DG: Yeah, I feel like the cornerstone of the whole brand is just taste. Because when I think about it, it’s kind of like, I feel like a lot of our favorite movies are similar. We might have outliers and stuff but we have a lot of similar favorite movies and we have artists, I feel like are pretty obscure that we listen to. Like, I still listen to Santigold, I listen Japanese city pop in the morning to wake up, I listen to old funk, soul, blues, black spiritual music from like the early 1900s.
I feel like a lot of our references and our tastes come from obscure places and we kind of bring them together, even like our logo and everything is kind of like a reference, everything that we work on is from references. I think when NBA All-Star [Weekend] was coming up, we were like: ‘Oh, yeah, this idea works perfectly, let’s just run it’ and we got good reception on that tee. Even our new stuff we’re working on, as soon as that hits, I know a lot of people will instantly jump on them just because I feel like we’re just getting better and better.
Aside from the references, what else are you consuming? What brands are you guys looking at?
DG: All black designers. Martine Rose, Grace Wales Bonner, Pyre Moss, their shoes are insane. A lot of kids out of London, Bianca Saunders. GutterTM. For music, anything that’s like some Atlanta hood-shit for me, then Japanese City Pop, I don’t know, I like waking up to that shit. But there’s so many brands, the culture is crazy.
PW: We focus a lot on homies. Even just in the shop, there’s ESCRO, Infinite Archives, you know, people that I actually grew up with, and to see that on this platform now… Guitar Boys, you know, it’s just kind of an insane time because it’s like we look around and in a very organic way, all of all our favorite shit, all the shit we share on a daily basis is like literally our peers, and a lot of times, close friends who we speak to regularly. So, we’re gonna do what we can use our platform to highlight those and work in a real way and see what we can do.
Would you say that these references make up your brand identity? How else would you describe it?
PW: I feel like it is that, but also in respect to the fact that time is always moving, everything has to keep going. I don’t think a lot of times what actually comes out is like, our direct taste level. It takes us to be able to do it but I think that’s more on the back end. What’s brought to the world is at least trying to be more reflective of the world at large and the times we’re in and how we see it. As opposed to just trying to pour what we think is personally cool, out. Even though it’s a mixture of the two.
DG: I definitely think of tastes and energy. Those are like the two things. Like it’s shit that we like, shit that we feel like the world should know about and then like, the energy is just like: when I step out on the street, what the fuck do I look like? When I step out into the streets, I want you to really recognize me and recognize that Product品 is something that’s strong. It’s just really personal. Even our love for MA-1 jackets turned into chopped up MA-1 jackets. That was from his love of vintage and military and I just love MA-1 jackets because in Atlanta, mogs in the hood used to wear those and get their name printed on the back and get like their squad on the back or something.
PW: Before we even knew that, it was MA-1 jacket, it was just a staple. And then, like really learning the history behind it and of course just loving the silhouette. Like I said, the references come from all over because it’s like, just how we explained in that one piece, you know, it means something different to the both of us at different times in our lives. So it’s like, it’s just all part of kind just trying to keep the same flow.
DG: And there’s definitely like a cross-cultural element to it because that jacket can mean something totally different to a whole ‘nother person-
PW: Like my dad: he was in the military and he loves it for not even close for the same reasons that we like it. I think one thing is to use references as a way to build a visual identity that’s not necessarily so all over the place, more so more unifying. Just because things like that don’t really alienate people. Even the Fantastic Planet tee, if you’ve never seen that movie, the message wouldn’t necessarily be lost on you. So I feel like maybe that’s like the larger play at hand.
DG: Yeah, that tee for example, like, I feel like we talked about the [Fantastic Planet] tee a lot just because that’s like what’s out now and the new stuff will boil, but is there there’s kids I know who don’t know shit about basketball. Out here in New York, they’re like film buffs and they’re like, ‘Oh, I love that’ or there’s people who don’t know the basketball reference or the film reference but it’s like “I like the energy of that t-shirt. I like the colors, I like the composition, I like the vibrancy.” There’s so many layers that we try to hit.
Are there certain people or entities you look(ed) to for guidance or to better inform you on running a brand?
PW: That’s more inspiration than anything but culture in general. That’s like pre-workout, when people take the shit so they get that extra jolt of energy, because don’t shit teach you about doing this except you actually doing it. There’s so many things, even throughout the similarities that you could point out, with every business, every successful business, failing business, things have these common threads but I feel like the lessons for that individual was in the shift that wasn’t a common thread. It was something that was unique to that story, like: ‘this is what taught us this or this is what taught us that.’ Even just going through shit in everyday life, good or bad, we internalized all of those lessons. If this brand is gonna be an extension of us and how we see things, you know all of that comes to the table because you can get caught up in the stories. You may know the industry, if it’s a fashion story or something music related or anything like that, art, design, so it’s already something that you’ve heard, people telling similar stories, like ‘man I was here and I experienced that same thing’ and that can be like an opiate, like that’s addicting, you’re getting juiced up on all the stories and seeing other people doing what they’re doing but at the end of the day, you still gotta go out and do this shit and find out. Somebody might have said something but if you didn’t try it, you don’t even know if it would have worked out for you. Like it didn’t work out for them but your shit might have been completely different.
I think we get inspiration from a ton of different stories. Even personal stories, like people that we know, like, I know both of our families are huge inspirations for us as far as how we move with Product品. He can talk more on this but his granddad was an artist, so there’s the art, his dad was a basketball player so it’s like all of our people kind of speaking through us.
DG: It’s definitely some ‘ancestors speaking through you’ energy for sure. It’s everything but I will definitely say Taz Arnold though. I just gotta throw that name out there because I feel like his name isn’t in the conversation enough. He’s probably one of the flyest humans ever to exist on this earth, like on some: ‘I don’t give a fuck and I-
PW: Alessandro Michele at Gucci is all Taz Arnold. Like when I saw what Alessandro was doing at Gucci, I was like ‘okay, Taz finally doesn’t look bugged out to people anymore. Not that Alessandro bit from bro, but that energy and that aesthetic. It’s like, okay, it’s finally caught up.
DG: He was so ahead, it don’t even make sense. The average fashion connoisseur dresses like him now, 10-12 years later.
PW: On a similar level, maybe one of the first people as far as like interviews, or even just learning about this guy, Reggie Know who was like, don’t know it’s a lot to say, I feel like people should do their research but Reggie, runs Fashion Figure Inc. and also the Killer Tape Network. But learning his story as a Chicago kid who went to the Art Institute, I think it was him and his crew Dem Dare, their hand in the Chicago hip-hop movement. I feel like seeing interviews from mostly Reggie because, you know, a lot of people weren’t really messing with cameras like that in Chicago, at least me during that time. Seeing how they were able to sort of like, synthesize all of these things from like, hip-hop to Polo to veganism… they had those hand-drawn crazy flyers, so I think that was super important because the story became that much more personal to me. Because it’s like, he was able to go super crazy and it was super ahead of his time. Go super crazy. Like hip hop is not something that’s native to Chicago at all, and for a long time, if you were deeply hip hop in the early ‘90s, you weren’t the super cool person. It was kind of weirdo-ish in Chicago, you know, so I feel I resonated with those guys, their story and how they moved.
I think that’s one of things and they’re one of the crews and reading up on them, that taught me about using fashion as a story, to maybe be more intentional.
DG: The figurines he made, it was such a story he told with how the figurines and the art that he made, how they dress, like he would make these people that were just like, as fly as possible and I feel like that’s something we kind of subconsciously strive for in making Product品. Like ‘yo, we want the kid who wears Product品 to virtually kind of dress like this.’ And then there’s the Shirt Kings energy that I feel like we throw into it too. Even Reggie Know, what was that movie he did? That’s really what caps the research, that short-
PW: THIS DAY anime is the name of the anime, if you search that, it should pop-up. THIS DAY is his thing. Again, that was inspirational to me because it just showed like, ‘okay I got all these references and different things that I’m pulling from, different things that influenced me, how can I package this into something that I can tell a story with?’
DG: That short was so prototype. If it dropped now, it would blow up because it would have been a pilot for a series now. Because the energy was super black culture but also super anime, fashion culture.
PW: The thing is, like even pulling through all of that, the root of everything , the basis is hip-hop.
Like, that’s super important because a lot of people will recognize like, ‘oh, hip hop is the most important or the most influential, boom, boom, boom.’ And it’s like, yes, but that kind of dilutes it into a standard. And sometimes that allows you not to really dig deeper and really see the beauty that may come with it. I think with him being able to pull from all those different references but still, the baseline is like, this is hip hop culture. ‘This is my culture, like, I’m trying to tell all these stories, but through this,’ you know, that’s a really cool thing as well.
What does the start-to-finish process look like for you?
DG: Man, we kind of do it all because we’re both in it from different angles. He’ll just be working on clothes, like he’ll make some jeans and add some stuff to it and I’ll go over to his crib like “what’re these?” and he’s like, ‘oh, it’s this and that’ I’m like, ‘oh, like that should be a short’ or I’ll send him random designs, He’s like, ‘I fuck with this one’ or ‘this will turn into this.’ It’s really random. There’s a lot of times we move with intention and then be like, ‘Oh, I have this idea for tees, or oh, that’s a banger.’ It’s just like a super open approach, I’m a super hippie-dippie human being, you know what I mean? So when it comes to approach, or whatever, I feel like I’m not hyper-rigid, like, not hating on nobody else but like, I feel like we’re not rigid. I feel like every piece is super-unique or from the heart, you know?
What does it mean for you to have a brand/platform?
PW: I would definitely say it feels like a blessing. At the same time, sometimes it doesn’t even really feel like that because you’re just in it, it’s just this continual process. There’s no real endpoint that we can see or even one we’re aiming for. Not that there aren’t goals that we’ve set but, at least for me, it always feels like you’re still a rookie because we’re constantly just seeking out knowledge and even when you’re not seeking out knowledge, just learning. It’s like: you’re there and you just feel blessed to be there and just keep going. We’ll probably get a chance to look back and be like, ‘man I was really young’ but I think in the moment we’re just so focused on like, okay, this is a blessing me to be in this day and time because we both had older family members who were highly creative individuals, but those same opportunities weren’t privy to them, you know, to really pursue what they wanted to do from a creative standpoint. So I feel like that’s how it feels in this moment, it feels like a blessing to be able to wake up and do this, even when it’s not easy, it’s just like, this is dope. We study culture in general, a lot of times like fashion and aesthetic might move what we study, but we’re just lovers of life, so I think to be able to live it out in any capacity, in a way that you want, there’s no way to even really explain it or frame it. I think you just want to do more of it and be able to help your people and the people around you do that as well.
DG: Yeah, and it’s hyper beautiful to like, be able to, like how he said, wake up design some shit and drop it. It’s also this world that I love, that we love so much, fashion or media or just culture, this world that we grew up kind of being consumers or just fans of. It’s like, okay, now I can like put my imprint of ideas. I felt like Supreme did a lot for me. When I was younger, like, ’08, I remember the Miles Davis collection. Like those records were in my grandfather’s garage. I never picked them up until I saw them on the Supreme tee in 2008. And I’m like, ‘oh, what is On the Corner? Like what is Kind of Blue? Like what are these albums or who is Malcolm McLaren? I like the education factor when you have reference points in fashion and I feel like one thing we’re working towards, why we call it Product品 but why the IG is Product House and the website is Product House is because we see it as a house, we have cut and sewn garments.
We’re fans of Margiela, we’re fans of Raf, we’re fans of Walter Van Beirendonck, Rei Kawakubo, nameless other human beings that designed. Even Sean John, you know what I mean? We just kind of grew up on it all, Girbaud, you know what I mean? It’s beautiful to be able to be like, ‘okay, here’s our perspective.’ I feel like it’s very specific, like where we’re coming from. And we’re also like, fans of sport, which I feel like, that’s shown but in fashion, but is it really? We’re also big movie fans, big music fans, big just culture fans, you know what I mean? So yeah, I think it’s beautiful. It’s like having a voice.
What’s the future look like for you guys?
PW: I feel like how we run the brand, we work a lot with small artisans and people that help us if it’s not something that we’re doing ourselves. I feel like the community is just a lot more spread out and less reliant on what’s going on in mainstream society. I feel like we really like built a network of individuals that are moving just like us. Even through all of this, I mean, we’ve still been able to get things done and continue to build on those relationships because it’s like once there aren’t so many these bigger entities to, I don’t want to say take up space, but once they aren’t supplying everything is like, you mean the world kind of becomes a system of just peers that are reliant on one another to get things done and it’s really good to be able to see the world work that way.
DG: Yeah I think COVID has made things move differently because we planned stuff in LA, we planned on doing some things in Paris, we were setting things up to kind of move in certain ways and when COVID hit, we had to regroup and dead a lot of shit but I think we’re still pushing forward, like what we’re doing is different. But I love that a lot of airbrush stuff is done by artists in Chicago who were like, ‘okay, we have these ideas. We got this simple airbrush, we can do the scripts, but you guys can do portraiture, and let’s get this done.’ And it’s like using that community that is on the south side to knock things out for us. That makes the product even more authentic because it’s like, if you get a $400 airbrush shirt from us, we’re paying these local businesses of color, we’re paying my boy who’s in New York who is doing chain-stitching for us on the jeans we’re making and that’s a young black dude who has his own brand and has his own company. And we’re building this network and we’re making sure everybody gets paid, so when you’re buying from Product品, you’re buying something from a bunch of artists that came together. Like, that’s why we’re a house because it’s like a creative director role on certain items where it’s like, ‘okay, you’ll sew this, I’ll graphic design that, he’ll do chain-stitch on this and then we’re gonna put it all together into a piece. So like, when I look at our pieces, this is more MoMA than it is Dover Street. So that’s how I want to keep thinking.
Instagram gonna tell y’all we got pieces on the way.
PW: Yeah, it’s just kind of like, stay tuned. You’ll enjoy.
DG: Oh, we got a photo book coming out. Maybe that’s something to promote? It’s a photobook on the way.
PW: Man, honestly, all of this stuff is one of those things, like, I don’t even watch Star Wars, but from what I know about it, it’s like you kind of gotta watch all of it to even get the full scope.