Interview with Made Above | Edition XIX.2

• Clothing Brand •

Designer Name: Arnel Custic
Age: 21

Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Location: Seattle, Washington


When did you realize you wanted to become a designer and what was the first article of clothing you ever designed?

I realized I wanted to become a designer during my freshman year of college, after I somewhat foolishly used all of my financial aid funds to immerse myself in the streetwear culture. Initially intrigued by the many colors, styles, and designs that were available, I couldn’t help but to try to get my hands on the freshest and most exclusive clothing out there. However, a love-hate relationship sprouted from this immediately because, although many of the clothes were exquisite, many of them I felt lacked a real message — or at least a positive one. That when I realized that I had something unique to contribute to this particular world of fashion. The first article of clothing I ever designed is the Seattle Love design that we have out right now. It was inspired by a particular line in one of Seattle’s very own hip-hop artist Macklemore’s songs, in which he says, “The skyline is etched in my veins. You can never put that out, no matter how hard it rains.” It was me simply paying homage to the city that I love and cherish.

How would you define your city’s fashion?

Overall, Seattle, which is home to hundreds of  high-end retail stores and boutiques, has a large and growing fashion scene. In terms of streetwear specifically, there are lots of emerging brands at the moment as well as a couple already established ones that are trying to put on for the city so it should be really exciting to see what happens here in the coming years.

When you started out did you think it would be a serious business?

Although the clothing company itself has been in official existence since July of this year, the idea behind it along with the designs have been in the making for a few years now. So I would say that we most definitely went into this thinking it would be a serious business. This is probably why, since our July/2011 inception, we’ve really only put out less than a handful of different designs yet have managed to garner over a 1,000 likes on our Facebook fan page alone, which stands to speak to the amount of thought we put into each and every design we create. In addition, we have been featured in a local newspaper as well as have had a couple of local hip-hop artists rock our clothing.

How is the internet changing your craft?

The internet has been the primary vehicle for this entire project. Not only has it allowed for a rapid and organic growth rate, mainly through social media platforms, but it’s also what I used to teach myself the basics of Adobe Illustrator, which is how I create the majority of my designs.

Your concepts are very unique and original is there a pressure to
 always maintain that consistency with your new designs?

We treat each design as a potential “poster child” candidate, meaning before we release a design we ask ourselves if we had to choose this particular design to represent our entire brand, would we be happy with it? As you can imagine, this sets an extremely high bar for ourselves, which hopefully shines through with each new piece of art we release.

Do you consider yourself an artist?

I consider myself a young artist because I don’t feel that my full potential has been reached yet as I’m still learning and enhancing my skills. But that is the beauty of being an artist; there is and always will be room for improvement and a chance to learn more so that one can do more.

Who are some people you want to interact with this year?
Favorite celebrities + premier boutiques + possible collaborations.

Lastly, could you talk about any long-term goals you have in mind?
Besides the obvious — expanding — I would definitely like to dip my hand in cut-and-sew. I’m a huge fan of t-shirts, crew necks, hoodies, and all that good stuff because of the open canvas that you get to work with and express yourself through but hopes of expanding the brand beyond just graphic design is what’s drawing me to cut-and-sew. Aside from that though, doing some collaborations as well as getting the brand into premier boutiques around the nation is also another goal for us – as is adding more members to our team. The primary goal, however, whether it be long-term or short-term, is to make a positive and memorable impact on the world.