There’s long been a marriage between music and fashion and Sprayground creator DAVIDBENDAVID is on a quest to elevate that union the more.
With the 10th anniversary of his innovative brand approaching, the trailblazer has teamed with Asian Doll for a new single ‘Kyoto Kush’; a track, he says, celebrates the fusion of Sprayground’s unique style and his equally eclectic musical ear.
That Grape Juice caught up with the man himself, who opened up in earnest about his journey, entrepreneurial ethos,
That Grape Juice: You’ve had an incredible journey. But for those who don’t know, tell us about the “Sprayground” story?
DAVIDBENDAVID: It’s nine years ago now; next year’s our 10-year anniversary, which we’re really excited about.
There was a void in the market almost 10 years ago, it was just the same old, same old. And I was very involved in fashion and product design, I went to art school, in the School of Visual Arts, New York City. And after school I wanted to create a brand, I wanted to create fashion. But then the fashion market is very saturated, so I thought what would be my perspective into this chaotic field? So, I was on the hunt for a new bag and there was really just the same boring, old bags, so I’m like, “Hey, why don’t I put my art on bags”, so that’s the route I chose. I didn’t know how to develop bags, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, but I just wanted to create something different, something fun that was for me. So I created this one bag, “Hello My Name Is” bag. I didn’t have any factories or much know-how. I just went to a few fairs; I found some production factories and the same ones I found nine years ago are still with me today.
I created the “Hello My Name Is” bag and the strategy was to simply sell it.
Instagram really wasn’t popping back then and I didn’t know about that Facebook thing. So we sold in the top 50 sneaker boutiques across the country. The strategy was to just isolate the most popping. And we were really blessed, all 50 of them took the brand. And remember, this is a bag, this is something new for them, they were just carrying clothing and sneakers, and now for them to have their accessories, they’re like, “Why not? let’s give them a shot”. So that first small collection of just that one bag sold out.
And then naturally an internal strategy would be like, “Hey, should we make more ‘Hello My Name Is’ bags?” and I said, “No, I want to create something new”, I didn’t want to be known as the one-hit wonder. So I made the “Money Stacks” bag. And then that bag it reached many, many famous people, they bought it at the local boutiques, 50 Cent was probably the biggest initial names to wear it. Soulja Boy back in the day, this is seven, eight years ago they were at the height of their careers. So it was great getting that support. And then from that I got a call from Viacom, someone in the company had one of my bags and they wanted a unique bag; so they called me to collaborate. They wanted something cool, fun and edgy for the youth. To speak to the youth market, you’ve got to be crazy because they’re crazy in a big way. The things that they like, the things they want to do it’s like ADHD for more. So I collaborated with them on a Sponge Bob bag with the shark mouths, and that’s when I started putting the shark mouth on the bag. So that bag now reached new avenue; after that we saw actors wearing it, NBA players, NFL players, and more artists.
It’s been an organic build and very much about cultivating a creative experience. Collaboration to me was very important, I would want to meet with the person, meet with the team, design with them. From that strategy, we collaborated with Young Thug, The Game, Marvel, DC, Hasbro. Even recently, the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball. We collaborated with the Dream Hotel even. Marcelo the football player for Madrid. Chris Brown was probably the biggest collaboration I did, that was back in 2013. And it was cool meeting him, I met him at an art gallery and I had a bag on and then I came up to introduce myself and tell him what I do and who I was, and he was like, “Oh, I have three of your bags”, I went, “No way”. And I gave him the bag that I had on me, and he’s like, “Oh shit, really cool”, he’s like, “We should create something”. So we built a nice relationship over a year and a half and then we dropped a nice little collaboration of these wing bags, and they sold out.
We’re thinking worldwide too. For about five years we’ve been selling internationally, and now we’ve got 30 countries, like: UK, Italy, Dubai, Japan, China. We have stores now in China, we have 19 stores in a partnership which is really exciting. We’ve been able to make these strides relatively quickly because we’re fast and we don’t get stuck in any weird decisions, we just move forward.
That’s the brand in a nutshell, this cool thing now that fans have been collecting these bags, some kids have 50, 60, 70 bags, it’s really nuts, it’s really cool to see. And many bags they’re not even wearing they’re just storing it away or selling it on the third market. And we saw last year one of the most expensive bags on eBay, it was 22 bids, used, for $6,100, crazy. That was awesome.
That Grape Juice: That’s incredible.
Moving forward, who are some of your dream Sprayground collabs?
DBD: Something recent that I did which I was very excited for because I was asked this question a year ago and it came true, I wanted to collaborate with Fight Club because of the 20th anniversary of the movie. Three movies defined the early part of my life and the attitudes of building a brand. They are: Fight Club, The Fifth Element and Lord of War. So Fight Club, I did a whole runway show for New York Fashion Week and it was really one of the most amazing things that you could get. And seeing a team pull off at a huge runway show like that was amazing. But I would say future stuff, Tom Ford’s cool. It would also be cool to do a collaboration with. Travis Scott, he’s got weird, hallucinogenic visuals like me.
That Grape Juice: Speaking of collabs, you recently teamed up with Asian Doll for YOUR new single ‘Kyoto Kush.’ Tell us a little about your foray into music?
DBD: It was many years in the making as far as the approach of music because I’ve been spending so many countless hours with all of the people I named, many hours in the studio. So one day when I was on a trip earlier this year, I’m like, “Let’s make a new campaign for Sprayground and we shot it in Thailand, Dubai, and Mumbai; and instead of making a vlog it was just like a music video. I made a video called “No Work” and was just showing how you follow your dreams, you don’t really have to work a day in your life and that’s why it’s called, “No Work”. I wanted to expand this idea. So the bag was nuts it needs some sound to it, I wanted to give it that new sense, so that’s really been a new thing.
So with Asian Doll, I contacted her to do a shoot in Japan and the conversation at the end of the day went: “Hey, let’s make some bags and a music video and a dope song to accompany everything.” And then we called it Kyoto Kush because we shot it in Japan and Kush because the word Kush made a good name together. And that was the first time I did a collaboration where there was music and fashion combined. I think to give the fans a whole experience with the brand is really a goal. And with Asian Doll, it was the first foray into that. The video took eight weeks animating before shooting. It was a lot of fun.
That Grape Juice: Who are some of the acts you would like to collaborate with in the future or a similar themed music and fashion project?
DBD: Young Thug would be cool. I always wanted to play music with him, but we never got that opportunity because this was many years ago and I was just doing fashion at the time, I think with Young Thug it would be cool, he has a very eccentric type of fashion. I think with Jaden Smith also, he’s very eccentric where he can cross over to fashion and music without a doubt. Yeah, those.
That Grape Juice: Who are some of your inspirations – in both fashion and music?
DBD: In the beginning, inspiration came from just looking at fashion magazines and then I got to travel to Tokyo and that opened up my eyes, then I went to China and went to Italy, Dubai and then went to Mumbai, it seems like there’s all these crazy different worlds. And just looking at the colors and what they wear and the music and the food; all those senses for nine years. It’s how I approach the meaning of inspiration these days.
That Grape Juice: Any advice for those looking to be the next DAVIDBENDAVID?
DBD: A few things, one, if you work at something you love you’ll never work a day in your life, but in order to do that you have to have a, “No pain, no gain”, mentality. And you can’t pick yourself up after you get knocked down once or twice you’re going to get knocked down 15 times. I get knocked down every freaking day and you’ve really got to get up and keep going, that’s really it because if you want success the world will come at you with everything it has to counter that. And if you pray and have good vibes and good energy, the more you can aspire with what you want in life.
That Grape Juice: What is next for DAVIDBENDAVID and for Sprayground, what’s on the immediate slate?
DBD: I’m very excited to do fashion as far as runway shows; so we’re invited to the Shanghai Fashion Week, we’re working with also Paris Fashion Week, those are two to break into which I’m really excited about. Doing more luggage, I have a fascination with luggage after I travel so much. There’s a problem with luggage in the world and I need to fix it, I have that task. And then continually telling a bigger more meaningful story with music working with very eccentric artists. It’s our ten-year anniversary next year, so we want to put on a festival where there’s music, fashion, art design it’s just a whole ecosystem of dopeness.