The End of An Era: A Conversation and Closet Sale With DRKSHDW DDDY
This interview has been condensed for the sake of clarity.
What’s your real name, where did you grow up, and how did you get that nickname?
MG: My name is Marco Gonzalez, born and raised in Tampa FL. I’ll tell you how I got my nickname later.
That’s interesting; I feel that Tampa is overshadowed by more popular cities in FL like Miami and Orlando. How did you develop your style in a city with little to no fashion influence?
MG: This is kind of weird but I remember exactly when I was first introduced to “streetwear”. It was on Sept 22 2004. I was in 7th grade and I went to New York; this is when I met my cousin who is a graffiti film director. He politely explained to me that I was overweight and not attractive, and if I planned to get females I needed to figure out how to dress better.
That’s hilarious, what brands did he introduce you to and which did you gravitate towards?
MG: I wouldn’t say he introduced me to brands per say but he’s a Puerto Rican from the Bronx. He had to show me all about sneakers. I asked him bout Bape cause of Wayne and he said that shit gay. We did walk into Scoop and saw the first ice creams tho. He took me to Recon/Nort. He’s graffiti biased
Do you remember what your first Bape piece was?
MG: Yes, I actually bought a fake pair of blue bapestas
Wow, Fake? Did anyone know you were rocking fakes at the time and how did you know they were actually fake?
MG: Laughs* No one even knew what they were to begin with. I knew they were fake because I paid $65 I think at the time retail was around $180.
Who was the first person you met that shared similar interests in Tampa?
MG: Akeem, I was in 8th grade and he must have been a sophomore in HS already. I found him on MySpace, he was wearing a bape hoodie in his profile pictures and I saw that he was from Land O Lakes so I immediately messaged him.
And how did that go?
MG: Not too good. I messaged him and asked him where I can buy Bape? I was mainly interested in t-shirts and hoodies. He basically gave me the run around saying that he travels to Japan every year.
Did he ever get you anything from Japan?
MG: Naw, he looked at me like a rookie, like I wasn't ready for all this. He was already in high school he was a couple years older than me.
Fast forward, when did you actually start collecting and what were some of the best items you had at this time?
MG: I actually started collecting my sophomore year of HS. I was mainly into original fake, bape, and supreme. Oh and sneakers of course. Mainly OG/ earlier retro Jordan’s and Nike Sbs. At my peak around junior year of HS (2008) I had about 36 pairs of straight heat. There are some to give you an idea: Baby blue supreme highs, medicom 3’s, mulders, Unkles, Huf highs, etc.
Sheesh, that was quite the collection. How were people in your high school receptive to all this heat?
MG: I was actually getting bullied for wearing skinny jeans and sb’s. Tampa people didn’t know… People were still wearing jorts and the tall tees; it was hilarious. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that a majority of people caught on to what I was wearing, I felt like a celebrity.
Who were your early influencers during this time and why?
MG: Id says Pusha T, Kanye West, Pharrell, and Lil Wayne.
It’s interesting that you mentioned Kanye West. During this time he announced a collaboration with Louis Vuitton, which was huge, because it was the early stages of high fashion merging with streetwear. During this time did you take interest into high fashion?
MG: Yea I had a Louis Vuitton belt because of Kanye. During my senior year I had a license so my friends and I started taking trips to the mall. This is where I was introduced to brands like Burberry, Louis Vuitton, True Religion, etc.
Was your interest in streetwear slowly diminishing after being introduced to high-end designers?
MG: Naw not immediately because it was too expensive. I remember my first designer polo was from Burberry, it was one of the cheapest items but I still wanted to be in designer clothes. So I was mixing Burberry with true religion and OG Jordan. I eventually got bored and felt that collecting sneakers was becoming too trendy so I sold everything.
MG: Basically everything, but that didn't last long. I ended up building a more refined collection that consisted of Freddys, unkles, blue metallic 85 1’s, Chicago 85 1’s, red supreme blazers, Taiwan AF1, and Sacramento 10's to name a few. This all happened towards the end of my senior year.
Wow, it’s crazy how everything you've just stated is still relevant almost a decade later… So you graduate high school and what comes next?
MG: I start working at fly street life.
For everyone who doesn't know about Fly please explain to us what is and what it meant to Tampa during this time?
MG: Fly conceptually was bittersweet. Streetwear itself was new to Tampa, let alone in a mall. SPOT was SB prominent but not clothes. Fly really made streetwear mainstream in Tampa. With buying influence we were able to get a vintage frames account, CDG play, Adidas collabs but that was short lived.
Any big transitions in Fashion and pop-culture happening during this time?
MG: Yes, Watch The Throne Happened, this movement revolved around the concept of “fuck street-wear we doing designer everything”. During this time brands like Givenchy, Margiela, Balmain, Louboutin, Balenciaga, 3.1 philip lim, and Alexander Wang to name a few were everything.
I’m sure not a lot of people are aware of this but you created Faci. Can you please explain to the readers what this was and how it came to be?
MG: Well for starters I made Faci with the intent to create rough lux, the whole black street-wear aesthetic but with luxurious materials. But to back track, I was inspired to design my own brand because of a small project that took place at fly. I designed a new era hat with the assistance of our new era rep and long story short the hat did very well and it gave me confidence to start designing shit.
Did you have prior experience in designing clothes? Explain your process of getting something made.
MG: Hell no, maybe I bit off more than I could chew but I had zero idea in the process in designing cut n sew. Located in Tampa, finding someone to make patterns was a challenge in itself. Let’s just say the Internet and Tampa’s older Hispanic culture allowed me to find a seamstress to make the products.
So you start creating clothes, how do you try and get the brand off its feet?
MG: I make the IG for the brand and some how John Gieger starts liking my pictures and reaches out. At the time he had 25k followers, which was insane. Long story short, he and Darrelle Revis wanted my shorts and after emailing back and forth for some time I finally met with them and got them the shorts.
How does Asap Ferg play into all of this?
MG: Small world but my friend Mikes sister was best friends with Asap Fergs sister. I started chilling with Mike more so when Asap Ferg came to Orlando we met up with them and gifted him the shorts. ASAP Ferg was really the first person to post my shit. People from Tampa were tagging Faci all on the post and it gained some traction. He really got the ball rolling internet wise. The Geiger’s post were days later. Things happened so fast
That’s insane, so what happened next?
MG: At this point I start taking trips to New York to look for wholesale and start investing in my brand heavily while trying to figure out how to launch my brand because at the time it was strictly on IG. This is the transition into my ian connor story.
MG: This is going to sound weird but during this time 2012/2013 Ian connor, Ade, and Bari were crashing at my homies crib in NY. The idea that I wanted Ian and Ade to model my new collection manifests and I hit up my homie, and he makes it happen.
So did the shoot actually happen? What’s next..?
The photo shoot happened and then the site launches but it was a complete bust. A month later highsnobiety did an article on the brand but still no traction. At this point I’m financially exhausted because of the failure of the brand and my gambling addiction. I call it a quits and end up having to move to Orlando with my mom and step dad.
How was the transition to Orlando and how does this tie into DRKSHDW DDDY?
MG: So I leave Tampa and I’m living in Orlando. I Go back to school try to get myself back on my feet. I went through the wanting to be invisible stage cause I was “working on myself” right? But I still loved clothes, always knew bout rick and dabbled a little in it but when I explored the brand I fell in love. Way more DRKSHDW than mainline but I felt like I found “myself.” I basically sold everything in my closet and started just copping mad rick. I would always joke and say I’m building a rick archive... which is kind of what came to be. The daddy part... obvious reasons but I just dropped the A to streamline the DRKSHDW spelling style.
What are your current thoughts about fashion? And what are some of the things you’re into nowadays?
MG: Fashion is something I will always love but I’m not currently pursuing it. My buying has slowed down significantly I’m currently into acquiring properties, home décor, and tattoos to name a few.