Clean Lines: Dashiel Brahmann

Dashiel Brahmann’s namesake brand follows a philosophy of creating agile pieces in natural fabrics, blending a casual city style with the comfort of garments made for lounging. There’s a utility in the design: an elastic waistband on the pants makes it easy to change into boardies pre-surf, and a dress can be tossed over swimwear. Bits of embroidery, patchwork, hand painted pieces, and deadstock fabrics give the brand an overall playful late ‘60s flavor.

Dash’s designs are all prototyped and tested in his Brooklyn studio with his womenswear designer and business partner Jo Park. They work with a small factory in New York City’s garment district, keeping the whole operation local and hands-on.

Dash is a Pilgrim Brooklyn flagship shop veteran and we’re proud to present his brand here. This interview was conducted over email in February 2018.

[Dash in his Brooklyn studio.]

Chelsea Slayter: Tell me about where you grew up and the surfing culture there. How was surfing a part of your upbringing?

Dashiel Brahmann: I grew up in Longport, NJ. It’s on the most southern part of Absecon Island, a little south of Atlantic City. It’s a really small town (only 1.5 miles long) where you can see the bay from the ocean and everyone knows each other well. I’d say surfing is a pretty substantial part of the culture in all coastal NJ towns. Every aspect of our lives revolved around it. From the clothes that we wore or the music that we listened to, everything came from surfing. I started out around 8 years old. We would spend all day at the beach during the summer. There wasn't much else to do but surf. We had a little crew we called NUB formed by the Graeff brothers. You should check out their YouTube channel, those guys are mental. From ages 12 to 20 all we did was cause chaos in and out of the water.

[Dash mid-flight.]

CS: How does your identity and background play into how you design and think about design?

DB: I think it plays a large part. I grew up in a rather easy going, naturalistic community. With that in mind, almost everything is comprised of all natural fabrics. With elastic waistbands and wide yet slimming silhouettes, the clothes are easy to throw on in the early morning and easy to change in and out of when you're getting into your trunks or wetsuit to have a surf.

CS: How did you first get started working in apparel design?

DB: I originally wanted to go to school in LA to work in the surf industry. Surf brands like Volcom, Vans, and RVCA made me want to work with clothing. Four years later I ended up taking night classes at FIT and then entered into the menswear program. Fashion school is weird because you learn what “designer” fashion is and you try on different identities. I’ve worked for brands like Thom Browne and Theory, which were amazing experiences. I love everybody that I met along the way, but I eventually came back to surf culture through Pilgrim.

CS: What is your manufacturing process like?

DB: From start to finish the entire manufacturing process is within NY. All pattern making (the architectural blueprints for each garment) and prototyping is done in our Brooklyn studio. We work closely with a small factory in the garment district. They've been very supportive and without them we wouldn't be able to do what we do.

CS: Tell me about your process when designing. What do you value in apparel design?

DB: Our design process usually starts out with an idea or feeling which we then try to relay through fit, fabric, or embroidery details. We pattern and prototype everything ourselves. I like to be consistent so we offer the same bodies in different fabrications each season along with a few new ones including hand painted garments, artist collaborations, or deadstock vintage fabrics to freshen things up. I want our customer to know that they’ll always be able to get a version of their favorite fitting pant or shirt.

CS: What is your approach to menswear?

DB: I always had a hard time finding a men's button-up shirt that I liked. Something about wearing a tight non-jersey material was never appealing to me. Additionally, with thin linens or cotton shirting I noticed in the summer that I would still feel hot. I realized that my sweat would only make the shirt stick to my body. The tight fit and thin fabric wasn't allowing for the sweat to do its job, which is to cool you down. With this problem in mind I created the Walter shirt. It’s a loose, slightly cropped body with a dropped shoulder and wide cuff in order to be comfortably worn as an overshirt. This fit, along with a more substantial linen that won’t stick to your body as easily, allows air to flow through the shirt and cool your body down. Especially in the short sleeve version.

[Photos from the Dashiel Brahmann SS18 menswear collection.]

CS: What is your approach to womenswear?

DB: Our womenswear is a new addition. It’s an extension of the men’s and is designed, patterned, and prototyped by my business partner Jo Park. She’s extremely talented and has worked for a handful of reputable brands. She came on last summer.

[Photos from the Dashiel Brahmann AW18 womenswear collection.]

CS: Talk about your choices when it comes to fabric, fit, color, and styling.

DB: We started the collection with the idea to create clothing that was appropriate to be worn in the workplace and comfortable enough to sleep in. It started with the idea of providing the comfort of a cool breathable and wearable linen bed sheet in the summer and warm cozy blanket-like washed wools for winter. The aesthetic is driven season to season based on research. Our AW18 collection which you can see on our website was inspired by Edward Hopper’s Rooms by the Sea painting. Along with other room paintings of his we wanted to create a wardrobe that would be worn by someone living in those spaces. Additionally most of our photography is shot on film being that I feel film has more emotive and almost tactile properties rather than digital.

CS: How has music influenced your creative work?

DB: Music has played a very important role in my life. I grew up playing guitar and singing in a Beatles cover band around 9 or 10 years old and have been playing ever since. I relate most to the music and lifestyle of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Stories and images from the early days of The Grateful Dead and the Ken Kesey acid tests always fascinated and inspired me. The best part about working at Pilgrim (other than the community) was Chris' collection of music, from Brazilian Tropicalia like Caetano Veloso or Jorge Ben to the rare re-releases like Robert Lester Folsom or the Crystal Voyager Soundtrack that Mexican Summer records would drop -- the experience was always quite explorative. It inspired me to start putting together a very naturalistic and poetic style through washed linens or psychedelics, like one-off vintage fabric styles.

[Photos from the Dashiel Brahmann AW18 collection.]

CS: I see a lot of you in your designs -- meaning I surf with you and you would wear this type of arrangement of clothing at 4am to get in the car and go surf. The styling is very you. How do you think your designs make people feel when they are wearing them?

DB: Haha, yeah, I hope it makes them feel comfortable, confident, and unique in a way that doesn’t step too far out of the box. I hope the clothing becomes as much a part of their lifestyle as it is a part of mine no matter how or where they wear it

CS: What continues to inspire you about clothing?

DB: Learning how to run your own business honestly. It’s about seeing and hearing how people react to the things that you create. I’m more interested in finding out what people like and what they don’t like and how to balance each aspect.

CS: What is next for you?

DB: I look forward to keep on learning about all of the aspects of the business. I think we would Iike to give the brand a more clear and concise identity. Lastly, I want to travel to surf and camp, see as much of the natural world as I can, and have unique cultural experiences.

Visit Dashiel Brahmann's website here

Interview by Chelsea Slayter. 

[Young Dashiel Brahmann surfing]