To me cool is synonymous with interesting. A mantra of mine has been: “There's nothing more offensive than boring.” In 2019, everyone was super concerned about making sure that art fit inside a box. I think that’s crippling to creativity.
What were some early challenges you encountered/overcame at the beginning, back in 2009?
I had some stores unsure about the brand because my designs went pretty hard in the paint. My first store in Chicago gave them an apprehensive try and when they kept selling out, they realized what I already knew. They didn't realize that there is a market for these types of designs. So I guess changing people's minds or broadening their horizons.
Your brand is described as “high class clothing, for low class lifes”... Can you describe the aesthetic of Skim Milk in more detail?
The aesthetic is my personality. Either my views on pop culture, art, music or my sarcasm. I would consider myself and my friends "high class low lifes". We're into high art, fashion, food, etc., but we’re still a bunch of scumbags who prefer shithole bars to clubs full of the hottest influencers.
You’ve got an impressive list of collabs. Who were some of the first? Who are the faves?
The first collab was with Ariel Pink. In my opinion, he's the most genius artist making music, so it was an honor to work with him, and now to be friends.
I've really enjoyed each of the collabs. The Sasha Grey collab was big for the brand and it was fun doing my first shoe with Fila. It was also an honor with a collab with Sparks (one of my favorite bands of all time). We often do events and that one was filmed for the forthcoming Sparks documentary directed by Edgar Wright. Angelyne was also a trip!
Who are three artists who inspire you/the brand?
Tough to narrow it down to three, how about five?
David Lynch Alejandro Jodorowsky Aphex Twin
If you could get anyone to wear/model your clothing (that hasn’t already) who would it be?
“Designs that blur the lines of innovation and sarcasm”... Expound on that...
First and foremost, I'm really sarcastic, but I'm also always trying to do something different. A good example of this is the $100 series in my SS19 collection. I appliqued a real $100 on some t-shirts. The ultimate flex. Something else that I hadn't seen before was putting piercings on shirts. These can also be purchased on Tom Of Finland's website.
What’s your mission?
To keep being me.
How do you challenge people’s perceptions with your designs?
Good segway into the Bob Mizer collab.
Amazing! Tell me how the collaboration with the Bob Mizer Foundation came about. Were you a fan of his work?
A few years ago I went to an exhibit of his with Tom of Finland. I really went because it was curated by a record label called Dark Entries who re-issued some Patrick Cowley records (my favorite disco musician; a highly influential pioneer of electronic music). While there, I fell in love with Bob Miser’s photography. I found this particular image to be a perfect fit for Skim Milk and I reached out to the Mizer Foundation.
Mizer has so many iconic images, how did you select one for the new collab?
Funny story about how I came across this particular image. I felt like going to church last Easter and I got the time wrong and was super early to the service. So, I decided to do some thrifting at Out of the Closet in Hollywood. While there, I bought the Big Penis Book by Taschen. What a great find on an Easter Sunday! I like pretty much all of their books and really like this particular book. I've always been a big fan of gay art. I like how in your face and courageous a lot of it is. The work really lays it all on the line and if you don't like it, fuck off--it wasn't meant for you. As an outsider, to me it's very punk in that sense. Even though I happen to be straight, which shouldn't matter in art anyway, I find his work to be super interesting and beautiful in the way it’s shot, especially in terms of saturation.
And what does the image you chose evoke?
The uniform that he's wearing and the grin on his face made me laugh. The image is striking because at first glance, as your eyes immediately go to his dick, but then they go back to the juxtaposition of his uniform. Juxtaposition is key for most of my designs as it's super interesting to me. I've also never seen an image like this in streetwear. I'm positive some people will be turned off, but I don't care. Why is it okay to have women's breasts and butts all over t-shirts, but not for men? I'm all about 100% equality and feel that this shouldn't be offensive since I'm all about breaking down barriers, especially when shot in Mizer's classic lense. If it hasn't been done before, that excites me.
Do you think you’ll do more Mizer inspired shirts in the future?
What’s next for Skim Milk/Whole?
I just released the SS19 collections and I have a few more collabs on the way. A future Tom of Finland collaboration will be cool.