The makers behind Lemar & Dauley: Kareem Blair, Brian Bachelor, and Daniel â€˜Manhattanâ€™ Pierre, are a contributing force to the new school of streetwear fashion. It hasnâ€™t been long since these young innovators hit the scene, but theyâ€™re equipped with the weaponry of education and like many entrepreneurs of this generation they are on top of their hustle.
The guys behind Lemar and Dauley understand that you cannot afford to be afraid of saturation. You either sink or swim. It’s about your ability to be a leader to the masses and challenge the establishment of conformity. This will be the common denominator in determining your staying power thus making you a legend.
â€œThe biggest misconception about street wear is that it was actually groomed in the streets or that the founders of the brands come from it.â€
Format: When the buyer looks at your collection of garments and footwear, there is an infusion of inner city style, the New York ‘Street Art’ scene and strong political messages. What was the initial concept for the line and how did it come into fruition?
Kareem: As young black males from Brooklyn and Manhattan, it was impossible for our influences to not reveal themselves because initially, Lemar & Dauley were clothes we made for ourselves to rock out. Both me and my partners Brian and Manhattan attended [Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts], so artistically we were just applying everything we learned. We then merged our personal backgrounds, experiences and NYC culture, and aligned it with contemporary arts and athletic imagery. Truthfully, L&D was established four years ago, but its vision is easily six years in the making, so its purpose for when we started has evolved considerably since. Initially, it was our outlet to speak for our era.
At the time, streetwear was only addressed by a select few, mostly Japanese or older graff’ heads stuck in there era. No disrespect to either parties because they pioneered and nurtured a niche market that few were aware of. It’s no secret that it was a small community back then. But one of the issues we had with it was that it played up on the same stereotypes, such as [camouflage clothing], graffiti and legends like Biz Markie. This was cool, but one-dimensional. It lacked savvy, jaw dropping graphics, relevant musical icons, and most importantly colour. Union NYC either looked military or black and white tees every weekend. We decide to tell our story and tell it correctly.
Format: If you could collaborate with a legendary graffiti artist or designer, who would it be and why?
Kareem: Iâ€™ll have to answer this as one-third of L&D, because my partners may feel different. As for a legendary graffiti artist, there are none that I’m interested in. Iâ€™m actually bored with most of them. I know itâ€™s not politically correct to dismiss any of the legendary graffiti artists’, but it always the same five or six working with everybody, delivering the same quality of work. Artistically, I feel only two have made a transition into fine arts with legitimate substance. Iâ€™m good, I’ll pass. Iâ€™m actually looking for some new artist to work with, preferably young and emerging. If youâ€™re a dope oil, pen, ink, charcoal or watercolorists, get at us. It’s necessary to keep this exciting. As for designers, Iâ€™ll say Jeremy Scott. My friends at Fruition Las Vegas just wrapped up a project with him. Heâ€™s always avant-garde yet marketable. Youâ€™ve got to love the balance. Oh, shout out to Rosa the Jeweler, sheâ€™s designing the L&D â€œChina Setâ€ as we speak. Looking forward to wearing that project.
Format: What’s the biggest misconception people have about streetwear?
Kareem: The biggest misconception about streetwear is that it was actually groomed in the streets or that the founders of the brands come from it. First, weâ€™re at Vegas twice a year. Iâ€™ve seen these owners. Once you get past their clothes, they expose themselves. They’re not from it, nor is there a legitimate background. Second, most brands that have popped up the last two years are internet brands, so they were not endorsed by the streets or even the community. [There’s] no real resume once you leave the blogs. There are only a few brands left and still relevant that actually have pioneered and/or ignited the direction of this vision. You can tell whom they are just by how they move as a company and in person. Only five or six modern streetwear brands have actually evolved on their style from day one. They’re the leaders. Everybody else has changed their brand direction, design, and marketing almost seasonally, just to keep up. But no need to further expose this culture, I make bread off the culture. It is what it is.
Format: You’re all self-taught graphic designers, marketers and sales promotion managers. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from trial and error?
Kareem: That the world will work with or without you, so you better learn to understand it’s already built a successful schedule. You learn fast that buyers, media and manufacturers work six to eight months in advance, so until you get on their timetable, you’re always late. This will affect your sales, press, sponsorships, event plans and delivery. There is limited growth until you fix that problem.
Format: Would you say that your collection is an artistic escape from the social factors that be?
Kareem: Nah, other people may say it, but it’s not. Weâ€™re artists so we naturally visualize the issues around us, but by no means do we wish to escape or want anyone else to escape. We are actually trying to accomplish the opposite. You’re not supposed to escape. The world and everything in it, good and bad, is created. The decisions we make affect the outcomes. We merely wish to remind people of some of the outcomes individuals have willed to occur, both positive and negative.
Format: Blogs and websites have become a huge part of streetwear culture. As entrepreneurs, how do you stay on top of trends in both fashion and business?
Kareem: Well blogs are a useful indicator, as well as magazines. In the past we utilize both as a means to stay updated, but now we have looked more within ourselves to maintain our own direction. Lemar & Dauley has produced more than 200 designs in four years, so now it’s about digging into your own archives and figuring out what is missing and being overlooked. We’re looking at our childhood photos, our parentsâ€™ photos and examining the roots. What captivated us from before? What are we no longer feeling?
It’s emotional. It has to be enchanting yet explosive. This is what guides us, and you have to naturally interact with your environment. Most brands are traveling everywhere. Nah, we’re trying to absorb exactly what makes Lemar & Dauley the â€˜Lemar & Dauleyâ€™ that has managed to ignite peopleâ€™s spirits. In a short time, we have inspired people within our generation to seize opportunity and make your mark.
As for business, you can’t half-ass it. You have to read, educate and question everything. Nobody will tell you anything you didnâ€™t request to hear, so you better ask. My father taught me that the worst thing that can happen is they say â€œno.â€
More Info: http://www.lemaranddauley.com/
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