Tucked away in the middle of the Lower East Side of Manhattan is where I caught up with New York native; Rembrandt 'Remy' Duran, Designer and Creative Director of ADEEN. Still driven by the ambition and hunger of that 19 year older designer who initially wanted to be a cartoonist, I walked into Remy's apartment (that he shares with his mother/manager) to find him sitting in his workspace with tools and pieces in his hand. A true designer at heart, Remy continues to make all of his hats by hand with the drive to continue building ADEEN into a lifestyle brand. I pegged Remy to be the first feature of Style Evolution because of his evolution both personally and professionally. Along with personal growth and development, Remy has grown ADEEN from a blog to a full on brand that can be seen on Missy Elliott, Will.i.am, and most recently Madonna.
Sam C. Perry: First off, I would like to thank you because you are the first person to be featured on Style Evolution, so thank you for the opportunity.
Rembrandt Duran: No problem!
SCP: How did ADEEN come about?
RD: ADEEN started out as a blog and evolved as a natural process - I got tired of just doing a blog and said, "let's do pins". I met this guy and he introduced me to his best friends mom who owned a teddy bear company and from there we ended up meeting with the teddy bear people and began doing pins. Somehow, I also ended up doing panties that were inspired by ASSMAN and that became a promotional item and it worked! We kept selling pins and a couple of months later we started doing hats and from there it took off.
SCP: Where did the name ADEEN come from?
RD: ADEEN came from a word we used in high school. It was a slang word we used in Brooklyn and when we were thinking about a name for the blog we thought of ADEEN and it just turned into a brand.
SCP: You originally wanted to be a cartoonist and a lot of the work was inspired by the 80s & 90s cartoons that you watched.
RD: Yeah, a lot of the work that I do is inspired by cartoons, comic books, video games, and pop-culture. A lot of my own designs from the third-fourth-fifth grade are of my own comic book characters; I wanted everything to be fun and to fuse - fun, campy, cartoony energy into style and fashion. I still watch cartoons when I make hats; I'll sit there and watch every episode.
SCP: Besides watching some of the cartoons today, what else is inspiring you to keep the brand fresh?
RD: It is honestly mostly a lot of the cartoons, but now it's about delving into the archival. A lot of the cartoons I watch were originally comic books and I search the internet for the old illustrations. I look at their outfits and the accessories they are wearing; none of it is done with the intent to be "fashionable" or "stylish", but it inspires in a way that I say, "I'd totally wear that". So I will take that, reinterpret it and translate it into real life fashion and style.
SCP: You mentioned you would wear some of those pieces; how would you describe your own personal style?
RD: My own personal style depends on what I've seen last. A lot of it will come from me having seen a new character and saying, "Wow! I love the way this person is dressed"; so I will pick stuff from my closet and just put it together and it will give me that feeling of that character and will make me feel tough.
SCP: Fashion today [with the inclusion of social media] can be extremely serious. A lot of brands and designers can take themselves so seriously, how do you keep your brand fun and light?
RD: I've learned to not tell people how to do their art or how to interpret certain art forms. I feel what's lacking now is just having fun with it. A lot of people feel art has to be this or art has to be that or art is only good if it's done by someone recognizable, when the purest form of art is a little kid just drawing with crayons and tons of color just having fun with it. This is what I wanted to do with fashion and my own brand; bring back that feeling of being a little kid with a big pink crayon and just having fun with it. I want ADEEN to be that big pink crayon that you throw on as an adult and just have fun and feel happy.
SCP: Touching on the social media topic and how everyone is starting to look the same; how do you allow your brand to stand out especially when others are now copying your designs?
RD: I've learned everyone has always looked like each other, we are just able to see it more now with social media and style being really infused into social media. Trends go a lot faster now, they used to last a lot longer or not be available to everyone right away; the lapse of underground to mainstream took a lot longer. I'm just the best version of me I could be; I could come up with something in my own mind and realize someone has already done it, but this is still my idea - my own interpretation of it. Everyone starts out doing a little copying and then they become comfortable and begin to experiment.
SCP: Recently Madonna was seen in your hat. Does that add additional pressure to you?
RD: I actually really don't care about celebrities wearing it, I'm not a big celebrity person. I think the only person I'd really go crazy over would be Beyoncé. With Madonna, my mom was more so freaking out; if I could choose between celebrity and magazine placement, I would choose placement. I don't do it for the celebrities, I do it for the arts. At the core of it, I'm an artist and a visual person and I like to create pretty things to make other things look even prettier.
SCP: Where do you see yourself and your brand going in the next five to ten years?
RD: Because ADEEN was and is still like my baby [we forged this relationship when I was 19 years old], I think me and ADEEN have grown, but I think ADEEN has gone off and grown into its own thing. I'm really excited to see where ADEEN is going to go in the next couple of years; not to say that ADEEN isn't a part of me or ADEEN isn't an extension of me, but ADEEN has definitely grown its own legs and image. ADEEN will continue to be fun and crazy - colorful and pink; whereas me, I want to do some darker - weirder and sexier stuff that wouldn't necessarily fit into ADEEN. So, Rembrandt as an artist and a designer will go here while ADEEN will still be that pink and light brand.