Derick Bowers started his career as a Hip Hop performer and manager. The Brooklyn resident spent his early years with BET, NPR, and Bad Boy Entertainment, but two years ago he put away his music hat and put on a brand new fashion cap. The Howard University graduate is now the owner and lead designer of the T-shirt company Adversitees.
Inspired by Hip Hop and pop culture Adversitees’ apparel is a humorous take on the urban artists, music, and popular sayings that consume television, radio, and the internet. In DZI: The Voice‘s exclusive interview, Bowers talks about the inspiration for his new line, his feelings about critics of streetwear, which superstar rappers have the best clothing brands, and more.
Yohance Kyles: When did you discover your voice as an artist?
Derick Bowers: I have been creative for as long as I can remember. I would write these short stories in elementary school, and my 5th grade teacher would go on about how much of a gift that was. I knew it was significant at that point, but too young to think past being 9 years old, lol. I started writing rhymes in junior high shortly after B.I.G. died and basically ran with that passion. I loved it. But I would say that going to Howard University really changed things for me, creatively…in terms of my voice and how I identified myself.
YK: What was the inspiration for starting Adversitees?
DB: To be totally honest, my life has changed drastically during these last 2 years. I’ve gotten married, and I have a beautiful one year old boy. Because of this and other reasons, I decided to no longer pursue music as a profession. To make it as a successful music artist, you have to sacrifice everything, including family, and I didn’t want that at all.
One day, I was tinkering with Photoshop after getting some crazy ideas in my head, and before I knew it I had several designs. I literally just decided at that second to start a business. Adversitees has been a way for me to be creative, and also in the long run serve as something financially beneficial for my family. But right now, it’s pure fun.
YK: What has the process of starting a new brand been like?
DB: Well, I’m new to this, so I’m constantly learning. It kind of feels like driving a car while you build it, lol. But I’m a consumer, and because of that, I feel like I should know how to sell. I’m constantly trying to figure out what others would like to wear on their chest for the world to see. I imagine what I would pick out from the clothing rack if I was a 17-year-old, white hipster or a 23-year-old; black college grad, Hip Hop head. But for the most part, this brand is filled with things that I personally enjoy myself, and I don’t think it would work if that weren’t the case.
YK: One of the interesting things about your shirts is your witty take on pop culture. For example, the “OJ The Juice Man” and “Pussy Power” tees. Do you view your shirts as social commentary as well as fashion?
DB: These shirts are what the person wearing them wants them to be. With that said, I want people to stop and think when they see these shirts. Whether it’s thought of as funny, clever, revolutionary, cool or tasteless — I’m happy with it all. We as humans communicate in so many ways. Why not in fashion?
YK: How do you choose which images/phrases you want to incorporate on your tees?
DB: I try to use current Hip Hop/pop culture and also classic references. Sometimes I like to mash the two together. For example, my “A$AP Rocky Balboa” tee. Putting rapper A$AP Rocky’s signature “COMME DES FUCK DOWN” skully and braids on Sylvester Stallone is pure foolishness, lol, but it’s clever and connects two worlds that are totally different. That’s a beautiful thing in my opinion.
DB: I don’t know what the future holds. But I would like to think that it will all come back to me some day. Maybe sooner than later. Only time and God knows that.
YK: Put the following high-profile Hip Hop fashion lines in order from best to worst in your opinion: Diddy’s Sean John, Jay-Z’s Rocawear, Pharrell‘s Billionaire Boys Club, Lil Wayne’s Trukfit, and T.I.’s AKOO?
DB: Sean John > Rocawear > Billionaire Boys Club > Trukfit > Akoo.
I would say Sean John purely off the fact that Diddy won CFDA Men’s Designer of the Year award in 2004. I actually interned at Bad Boy during the time he won that award. Random fact: Best congratulations cake I have ever tasted, lol.
Rocawear is second in my opinion, because Jay-Z hasn’t given up on it yet. And when you think he should, it’s constantly trying to evolve and change. However, Billionaire Boys Club is definitely a lot more current in terms of today’s younger generation. Trukfit and Akoo??? I can’t speak on those lines, since I have never seen anyone wear them. Maybe I’m not paying attention.
YK: If you could pick any 3 celebrities to rock your clothes who would you choose and why?
DB: My idol is Jay-Z, so of course I would love to see him in an Adversitees Tee. Any NBA star during a press conference, lol. And also Miley Cyrus. I like her style.
YK: What’s one current fashion trend you’re loving and one that you’re not feeling?
DB: Maybe it’s because I’m almost 30, but I love that the tailor fitted look is in. If I’m not wearing a t-shirt and some Levis, you will find me in a tailored suit. The fashion trend that I hate the most are the super-duper skin-tight jeans on guys. You can miss me with that.
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