Clutch chatted up burgeoning street wear designer Antoine for this month’s issue. A technology consultant by day, Antoine dubs his gritty and pacesetting line of tees and accessories IHMDJ!, which is a dope acronym for (I Hate My Day Job). The name stems from the contraries between his white-collar day job, which he enjoys, and his Batman-esque double life as a popular street wear designer. Read on as the Atlanta native discusses his foray into the women’s streetwear landscape.
Clutch: Why did you decide to start IHMDJ?
There wasn’t a structured decision making process behind it. It was more of a natural progression from design endeavors I sought in the past. I’ve always had an interest in music, street culture, and fashion and saw this as the perfect opportunity to bridge them together along with another of my passions, design.
Clutch: You’re a Morehouse grad right? Looking back did you ever think you would have a street wear line?
I actually toyed with the concept when I was at Morehouse, attempting to launch my first label in Spring ‘04 before I graduated. I’d done small bits of freelance design all through college and began experimenting with screen-printing as something new. I was initially motivated by my own search to find dope tees. I’d comb sites like digitalgravel.com and giantpeach.com back in 2000 when there was really no developed market for streetwear labels and the first online presence was being established through those stores. Taking inspiration from the creativity I saw there, I decided to print my own. I started out printing stuff I gave away to friends for free. I just liked seeing people rock something I’d created.
Clutch: Being an Atlanta native, when back in town where can you be spotted?
Little Five, MJQ, Gladys Knights Chicken & Waffles, Thrift stores in College Park
Clutch: IHMDJ is an acronym for “I Hate My Day Job”. What’s the day job you hate so much? How can you tell if someone hates their day job?
I don’t actually hate my day job. The name IHMDJ, for me, isn’t meant as a declaration, but more as an expression of the common frustrations of people who get up early to go to work every morning.
As far as my day job, I’ve been a technology consultant since I graduated. It’s a challenge, but I’ve gained great perspective from working with varied industries and clients around the world. Much of that experience I think, though maybe not directly applicable, has benefited my approach for IHMDJ.
Clutch: Your tagline is “White Collars & Dollars”. What does that mean?
When I entered the workforce I found that, like myself, many of my peers who also made that transition were not being defined by their “day jobs”. In my case, I may be in meetings with executives during the day, but outside of the office I spend my time listening to MF DOOM, collecting sneakers, and going out in Brooklyn. I began to see other consultants, lawyers, and investment bankers were doing the same thing; straying from the typical corporate profile, almost living a double life. At the end of the day, my day job pays the bills but it’s not my passion and it doesn’t necessarily define me; White collars & dollars is just another way of articulating that.
Clutch: What made IHMDJ stand out for Clutch is that you design street wear for women and there are not too many male designers that do. Why did you decide to do a women’s collection? What’s the difference in designing for a woman opposed to a man?
Women’s streetwear, to me, is fundamentally no different than men’s streetwear in that it’s trying to capture that same essence and attitude. I think what changes is the context – the references, imagery, and messages have to be tailored for a woman.
I chose to do women’s because it’s such an underdeveloped market and there’s lots of room to make an impact. Streetwear in general (read: Men’s streetwear) is so saturated that to garner any attention as a new label, you have to come with something different. This is why I launched our collection of lace locks before we released any clothing. Women’s tees followed because it was a much easier market to enter. I can count the competing women’s streetwear brands on one hand. I can’t even list all the competition in the men’s space – and new labels are popping up everyday, it’s like someone poured Vitamin Water on a gremlin.
Clutch: What designers are you digging right now?
I’m tiring of all the neon and 90’s accouterments. It was fresh for a while but it’s getting too outrageous as people compete to stand out. Some of what I see now is not even fashion anymore, its costume.
I spent much of last year in London and started to mute my wardrobe trading lots of color and flash for tonal contrast and clean cuts. I’m still in that mode. Right now I’m into Visvim, Vans, Fred Perry, Kim Jones, I like some of the Franklin & Marshall stuff as well.
Clutch: What type of woman wears IHMDJ?
I think it’s someone who wants to stand out and make a bold statement – someone who appreciates quality design and execution.
There’s a lot of stuff out there with “cool colors” and overused symbology just for the sake of it without really saying anything. I think the IHMDJ Woman realizes and appreciates the thought behind our references and messages.
I guess, in short, the type of woman that wears IHMDJ is the smarter woman.
Clutch: What’s up with the Lorena Bobbitt tee?!
If you look at current trends in Men’s streetwear, much of it revolves around projecting an image that’s tougher or edgier than the reality; much like hip-hop. We’re seeing a lot of guns, skulls, naked girls, and references to criminal behavior. As I said before, I think women’s streetwear, to an extent, aims to embody the same essence and attitude of men’s streetwear – this was a manifestation of that – plus the shit’s just funny.
Clutch: What’s next for IHMDJ?
For that you’ll have to stay tuned…
For more information on IHMDJ please log-on to www.ihmdj.com