Photographs by Christian Cortez Smiley
Dom Kennedy is a Los Angeles legend. As an unbiased artist, Dom has manifested a method of his personal that transcends music and style.
What began as an inherent style amongst household and buddies in 1990s Los Angeles has now flowed into the highlight, turning into the favored fashion of the streetwear scene we all know right now. To no shock, Dom Kennedy was on the gates for all of it. Making journeys to and from to Fairfax earlier than the hype, bringing new types to previous neighborhoods and coming into reputation concurrently people like Nicky Diamond and Bobby A whole lot, Dom has been round to see the transition of streetwear into in style tradition first hand.
After linking up with Dom to speak about his sneaker rotation lineup, we needed to speak extra with him about his private sense of fashion and independence. Learn our full dialog under and remember to catch him on tour, for his Win or Lose tour, which is occurring now.
Good Kicks: Raised in Los Angeles, how early have been you launched to the world of sneakers and streetwear?
Dom Kennedy: I used to be a child man. I used to be within the recreation earlier than I used to be within the recreation you recognize? With all of the individuals I had in my life, like my mother, my uncle and other people like that, they might gown me once I was a child. This was within the late ’80s, so rising up within the ’90s my type simply kinda carried over from that.
In consequence of being launched to that type so early on, I type of gown the identical method now that I did then. I had my first pair of Cortez by like kindergarten, you realize? I had my first pair of Vans and Jordans within the first grade. So it wasn’t actually like a “streetwear” factor it was simply variety of like that is what’s cool, and that is how we gown sort of factor.
As I received older and issues turned retro — when was that, across the mid-2000s? — that was when it began spreading out with retros and streetwear. I used to be at floor zero. Simply being from LA after which making the journey as much as Fairfax and assembly some of the individuals from that space that have been placing all of it collectively. I obtained to know these individuals early on that have been beginning corporations and that may ultimately blow up and assist make streetwear what it’s in the present day.
I used to be coming to Fairfax with my very own fashion. So I grew to know Bobby and them from The A whole lot, you understand, I knew Nick Diamond at Diamond. I might go to the Supreme retailer when the unique individuals have been working on the retailer. You realize what I’m saying? Then I might come again to my space with these garments on. I used to be the one one doing that the place I used to be from too, so I might see the distinction, and I noticed how it will steadily trickle down. In these days — with that sort of streetwear — it was an actual small factor at the start.
However you already know, once more, that’s a end result of my early type. I used to be sporting Stussy within the ’90s. My uncle would put on Tommy Hilfiger, Polo shirts, with some Okay-Swiss footwear on. That is in 1994, this isn’t like an image for on-line, that is how they have been dwelling and dressing for actual. These have been the individuals who had it on, it was simply what they have been doing at the moment. My uncle would give me a Stussy shirt that he wasn’t gonna put on anymore and say, “Here, wear this to school.”
For them too, it wasn’t like that they had individuals placing them on. It was extra such as you both had the type otherwise you didn’t. It wasn’t as straightforward to only steal somebody’s type again then as it’s now. Your type was extra like a illustration of who you’re since you needed to know concerning the stuff you have been sporting. You needed to know who was making it and the place to purchase it, you had to have the ability to afford it, so that you needed to like actually have that inside information or be from a sure space to have that sort of type. You needed to know the place to go to seek out what you have been on the lookout for.
Good Kicks: By connecting with these main streetwear gamers so early on in Los Angeles, did you are feeling like that helped you higher navigate the world of trendy streetwear?
Dom Kennedy: For positive — however they weren’t hand feeding it to me by any means, you understand, I already had my very own fashion. However by figuring out them, I had a entrance row seat to watching all of it unfold out. It’s type of like in life, individuals will gauge you and settle for you based mostly on your look, you realize? So simply me being me, all these individuals have been recognizing me and noticing that I used to be coming with my very own seems to be, like, “He might not wear all the stuff we making right now, but he’s coming with his own style.”
Like I stated, I used to be already sporting Stussy earlier than all of that, however typically I might come round with a Diamond t-shirt or a A whole lot jacket, or a Supreme something. I might transfer how I nonetheless transfer now. Combine and match from all these manufacturers and simply select what I like.
Undefeated was like an enormous factor again then too, as a result of for me it was all the time simply footwear anyway. Y’all get it. [Laughs] Garments and stuff, I recognize them, however actually my old flame is certainly footwear. I really like footwear greater than something. So I undoubtedly gotta point out Undefeated.
Round then, you can simply have some denims and a primary white tee on. But when your footwear have been recent, you have been good anyway.
Good Kicks: Do you assume that your unbiased type habits feed into your artistic course of as an unbiased artist?
Dom Kennedy: Undoubtedly. Since day one. I’ve that mindset in something, too. In my newest album, Quantity Two, one of the strains I stated was, “I’m still Gucci even if we got the same shirt.” Which to me means, you understand, individuals are gonna copy your fashion. Individuals are going to spend $1,500 on a t-shirt and be mad if another person has it on. However that’s by no means been my strategy — I’m gonna be good regardless, even when we have now on the identical actual factor, I’m nonetheless gonna stand out. You recognize what I’m saying? That’s simply my mentality.
You would have on Gucci and I might have one thing from the Goodwill and I’m nonetheless gonna be good. That’s simply how I really feel. So, unbiased, up, down, it doesn’t even matter. I do know that I’m going to have a reference to individuals by simply by being myself.
Good Kicks: As an LA native, you promote the saying ‘Los Angeles is not for sale’ which is definitely what your newest album Quantity Two is a reference to. What does that phrase imply? Do you see your metropolis as one thing to be protected?
Dom Kennedy: Nicely, sure and no. Not like bodily, however sure within the sense of sustaining its integrity. Integrity sensible, it’s necessary to maintain a continuing. As a result of issues are going to vary, the change is inevitable, however on the similar time, sure values that have been right here even earlier than me are being handed down by means of all of us, and it’s as much as us to introduce some new ones and even expose some of the dangerous ones too. In order that’s the half about change that I used to be speaking about. And that’s what that title means to me.
I truly thought of that title some years in the past. As a result of, you may promote your home, clearly. You would transfer to LA, transfer round LA, or you can depart LA. However on the finish of the day, LA continues to be going to be LA: the mentality, the mindset, is all the time going to stick with the town. No report label, or one individual, no media is ever going to vary that, we’re all only a half of the story. There have been individuals approach earlier than us and there will probably be individuals after us, however me, I simply attempt to put my stamp on it.
I do know LA, that’s what raised me. If I used to be educating a category, that’s what I might train about as a result of that’s what I do know. I wouldn’t go and speak about algebra, trigger I don’t know that. [Laughs] I find out about LA, I’m an professional in that.
Good Kicks: How are you occupying your self outdoors of music/tour lately?
Dom Kennedy: Household. I acquired different artists now and I take pleasure in working with them, so it’s nonetheless music too, you realize. The music factor is a pleasure man. Even once I get annoyed or could be somewhat fatigued with the music recreation, that’s once I go more durable truthfully. As a result of it’s such a privilege and a blessing, and you may’t do it perpetually.
I actually take pleasure in automobiles too, typically I’ll even go to automotive swap meets on my own. Identical to I’d buy groceries on my own, I’m going to automotive swap meets on a regular basis. I’ve gone down there with backpacks full of cash to purchase old skool automobiles earlier than. Individuals see me there they usually say what’s up they usually see me there as only a common dude that enjoys automobiles. That’s undoubtedly one of my pursuits outdoors of music. I actually like Impalas — previous Chevys are what I’m into. So I’ve purchased a pair of these through the years.
Additionally, simply seeing my individuals come up. If there’s any means I might help my individuals come up I like to become involved. And most of my associates make music so rather a lot of the time that appears like me serving to them with their manufacturing or no matter, nevertheless I can.
Good Kicks: You’ve acquired a very good profession underneath your belt. Together with your album finished, is there something on the market that has your artistic focus?
Dom Kennedy: Nicely, sure, the album is completed. However now we’re engaged on this OPM album — a compilation album. We dropped the primary one about 6-7 years in the past, again once we have been first beginning out the corporate. It did rather well for us, too. Individuals nonetheless come as much as us and ask about it. So we’re engaged on a comply with as much as that proper now. And I’m enthusiastic about that as a result of that’s going to assist my artists and showcase the expertise that we acquired and the place they’re going with their sound.
We’ve the Win or Lose tour in full swing and I’m undoubtedly engaged on my album for subsequent yr. As a result of it simply doesn’t cease. We’re within the midst of it. The whole lot is a studying course of, and I really feel like what I’m doing proper now even is a lesson for the subsequent time. So it doesn’t cease.
I really feel like Quantity Two is my greatest work thus far however I nonetheless have a lot extra I might give. I’m in such an fascinating level in my life the place, for me, it’s about studying. My greatest music continues to be proper forward of me, so I’m simply making an attempt to be ready and hold my thoughts proper.
Understanding all through the week and ensuring that I’m all the best way mentally and bodily locked in. I would like these years to be my greatest years.
Sustain with Dom Kennedy on Instagram and make sure you verify him out on tour this season as his Win or Lose tour makes its means across the U.S.