Rocking, surfing and styling. That is one way to describe Damon Emanuel, or D.E. It’s a fresh, new men’s fashion/lifestyle brand based in Bali and created by New Yorker/Californian Damon Emanuel Lawner.
With a rocker-meets-surfer vibe, it’s all very wearable for a variety of occasions, “everything you need for an endless summer in upscale bohemian style, from beach to nightclub, sea to shining sea.” Each of the pieces in the current resort collection pays tribute to famous rock stars or cool actors, such as the Bonham sneakers, as in late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.
In addition, there are Depp Pants, (Johnny Depp), McQueen Jeans (Steve McQueen), Vedder Shorts (Eddie Vedder), Stewart Shorts (Rod Stewart) and several others. DA MAN sat down with Damon for quick chat.
Exclusive Q&A with Damon
DA MAN: You come from California, correct?
Damon Emanuel: Yes, born in NYC, moved to California when I was a kid. Moved to Los Angeles to work as a photographer, lived there for the last eight years.
DA MAN: What brought you to Bali?
Damon Emanuel: My father retired on Bali six years ago and invited me out for a visit, I haven’t left since, been a little over a year now.
DA MAN: What inspired you to create a men’s fashion brand?
Damon Emanuel: I am a photographer by trade, photographing rock stars, celebrities and fashion brands in Los Angeles the last eight years. I have always been inspired by fashion, and when shooting someone else’s brand, I would think: ‘I could do that,’ create a line, that is. Moving to a place like Bali opens new doors—if you keep an open mind. I discovered I could make amazing menswear, sourced hand-loomed fabrics to my liking, handmade my buttons using sterling silver, found organic cotton for T-shirts. I guess without realizing it, Bali was the place for me to evolve into a designer.
DA MAN: What inspired the various designs? And look?
Damon Emanuel: My inspiration is best summed up in the tagline for the brand, “From beach to nightclub.” That thought is behind every item in the collection. It’s a “resort” or “cruise” collection tailor-made for me (laughs). Seriously though, it’s what I wear from top to bottom these days. I wanted to be able to go from Ku De Ta, lounging in the sun and sand in my croc surf shorts and V-neck T-shirt, throw on a nice lightweight cotton dress shirt, and head to dinner and dancing late at night. I also wanted to be sure that when I return to L.A., NYC, Miami or Vegas for a shoot or just a visit, my collection can take me from hotel to studio, formal or informal, and I’m looking good.
Finally, I wanted it to be a no-brainer getting dressed, as I have enough to think about. I’m lucky to have one of everything from D.E. in my closet now, and it all goes together well, all the colors and styles work together across the range. The rock/actor tributes are my inspirations and what I thought they might wear in my collection. The Vedder surf short because Eddie Vedder is a surfer and rocker I admire, and he’s always in cargo shorts, even onstage. Depp pants because I could see Johnny lounging stylishly in a pair of my navy hand-loomed pin-striped pants with a pair of his black, leather boots. Jagger shirt because I styled the shirt for a London rock ‘n’ roll vibe, and made it light enough to wear onstage or on the beach.
McQueen jeans for Steve McQueen, the consummate man’s man, with his muscle cars and motorcycles, all of which tied into the design of my jeans. Lennon shirt from the “New York City” shirt he famously wears in the photo by Bob Gruen, and the use of organic cotton, which is in line with his philosophies.
The Stewart short is Rod Stewart, all the poolside 1970s L.A. stuff with the Jaguars and RRs, that was my inspiration for those. Finally, the Bonham sneaker, the drummer from Led Zeppelin of course, for his wild ways, he always had some cool sneakers on, as he needed to be styled out but be able to hit the kick and high-hat hard. I think he would have loved the D.E. black python sneakers.
DA MAN: Where can we buy the stuff?
Damon Emanuel: The collection is launching as we speak in Los Angeles and New York, and is available for shipment anywhere in the world right now on the website. D.E. will also be in select high-end boutiques and hotels around Bali. I’m looking at Asia, now more than ever, as a very exciting opportunity, with sophisticated buyers looking for high-end fashion, and will look to find the right outlets. I know the USA very well because that is where I grew up and have connections there—this part of the world is still new to me!
DA MAN: What can we expect in later seasons/collections?
Damon Emanuel: This is a “resort” collection, so the styles will remain pretty constant. What I will be doing is working on the details, from the fabrics to the buttons (such as an 18-carat gold button series for the jeans), the hand-dyed colors, the shell buttons from rare sources and the prints for the shorts, which I design and are hand-screened. I have really dialed in the cuts and stitching to an exacting degree, so that as I move forward I can play with details—the fun part. This really is not a fashion collection so much as it is a lifestyle collection. I do not plan on re-creating the shape of a man’s dress shirt to discover a trendy runway look. I would rather create the “perfect” shape, which to me is a classic look, and really concentrate on the details and ways to make that shirt limited and unique. That is my approach.
DA MAN: What else can you tell us about yourself or the brand?
Damon Emanuel: I am doing so much cool stuff here, from photography (I shot the D.E. website pics here, FYI) to my namesake D.E. fashion line, even a new nightlife company called “red dot”—taking over clubs for the night and doing amazing parties here on Bali … Asia is really a happening, cool place, with tremendous opportunities and a welcoming spirit. I can’t say enough about how much I am enjoying my time here, and how filled with gratitude I am to be in Bali at this moment in my life!
DA MAN: Excellent! Thanks so much.
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