Florida State University Alumni H.S. Reid and Jamar Canty recognized the opportunity and located their Dapper Young Gentlemen [DYG] business to Los Angeles. The duo creates a line of distinctive ties, bow ties, and pocket squares manufactured in the U.S.
I met Jamar and Stephen this past April at the LA Fashion Awards, Hollywood California. These two, very grounded, dapper young gentlemen embodied a gracious enthusiasm about the road ahead for their up and coming brand. Over the months we stayed in touch. I am delighted to see them gaining momentum in brand exposure and am happy to share this interview with the EDGE network and viewers.
RPHill: How did you start DYG and what made you focus on this niche market of men’s accessories?
DYG: Jamar and I initially started DYG in Florida selling button-up shirts, polo’s, and vests. We were still in college at the time, and we realized the market for mens fashion in Florida was non-existent. After we left college we decided to move to LA where men’s fashion was on the rise. We also noticed that the overhead for polo’s and shirts were too high, and decided to specialize on niche men’s accessories.
RPHill: Who is the DYG consumer, who is your audience? Name a celebrity that fits the DYG profile.
DYG: When we thought of the brand, we wanted everyone to wear it. When we profiled a “Dapper Young Gentleman” we envisioned our accessories on any and everybody. Our primary market is males around the age of 18 to 35, but our appeal has reached far beyond that. We’ve had people young and old, from all different parts of the world enjoy our accessories, and we’ve even sold our products to women. A celebrity that fits the DYG profile would be a stylish person like Zac Efron or Dwayne Wade.
RPHill: What celebrities would DYG want to dress?
DYG: We were recently contacted by The Voice to style some of the contestants on the upcoming season. We would love to have our products on Pharrell, who serves as one of the coaches on the show, but it would also be awesome to dress David Beckham.
RPHill: Casual is still the desired dress code but much more refined. There is a movement back towards dress-up [not the 3-piece suit, of course]. The answer may seem obvious but elaborate on how this trend/movement plays into your business?
DYG: I think you hit the nail on the head when you spoke of a ‘more refined’ casual. It plays right into our business because when people usually think of ties, bowties, and pocket squares, they think of suits and blazers and formal events. What we’re doing with our accessories is showing the versatility of these products. We’ve shown through our imagery that you can rock your tie in a very refined casual look with jeans and a short sleeve button up shirt, or your bow tie with a shawl collar tuxedo. This, plus the rise in menswear specifically in LA makes DYG a very timely brand.
RPHiLL: How do you get your collection exposed to the market – for example exposure through trade shows, fashion shows, fashion markets, and/or direct to the retailer/buyer? Of these, which is most productive in wholesaling your product?
DYG: As far as exposure goes, social media has been our bread and butter. Before we started DYG, we created a lifestyle blog called LiveDapper, which eventually grew into a Lifestyle and Fashion brand, with a reach of over 30,000 followers over multiple social platforms. We get exposure mainly through our social media and LiveDapper brand, but we’ve also had success at outdoor markets such as the Melrose Trading Post and Arts District Flea. This fall, we also gained a lot of exposure by doing 2 runway shows, and sponsoring events during LA Fashion Week.
RPHill: Where, whom, what do you take your inspiration from or what past or current designer has influenced your designs and why?
DYG: Our inspiration comes from utility. We see a design that we like for an accessory, and we picture it in its final form. We then think to ourselves, “Where would I wear this tie?” “What type essential part of my wardrobe does this pocket square complete?” Each piece holds within it a future story. There aren’t too many men’s accessory designers, let alone inspirational ones that are really coming up with new ideas so we draw our inspiration from the urge to create something fresh and original.
RPHill: What are some of the difficulties or challenges in today’s role of a men’s’ fashion brand and how do you find ways to overcome them?
DYG: I think a hard part about a men’s fashion brand is opening men’s mind to what’s really possible with men’s accessories. Traditionally, men see ties as to be worn with suits or tuxedos, when they can be dressed as casual or formal as you’d like. The best way we’ve overcame this hurdle is by presenting powerful imagery through our website, advertising, and social media that shows not only the product, but how it ties in with your existing outfit and lifestyle.
RPHill: For those recent fashion industry graduates or emerging designers just starting out, what business tip would you share that has served you well?
DYG: The hardest part for a lot of creative designers is understanding business, in my opinion. I’ve met a lot of extremely talented designers with stunning pieces, but they have no business acumen on how to market and capitalize on their creativity. I think the best business tip for any emerging designer – is to learn the business side, and not just the creative side.
RPHill: One word to describe today’s men’s fashion?
All Photos Courtesy of DYG
EDGE congratulates DYG on their journey so far and extends continued success for the future!