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Interview with Dino Taylor of Original Dank Apparel

10 October 2004 No Comment

For many of us inhabiting urban areas it’s seems unavoidable not to be influenced by our concrete & steel environment. And just like hip-hop, the neighbourhood and city streets have also influenced me heavily. From the way I speak to my attitude to the gear I rock.

But unlike a lot of heads who merely follow and front in an effort to appear thugged out, there are those who draw inspiration from the streets to show self-expression and ultimately pursue true originality.

O.D. apparel has been around for a while. When was your company established?

I (Dino Taylor) began peddling OD tees in parking lots at concerts and counter-culture festivals along the east coast in the mid 1990s. Since those days, word of mouth and steady hustling have helped spread the Original Dankster name and our clothes from coast to coast. We’ve even had shipments out of the U.S. now. However, we’ve only been legally established as a full-time business since late 2003. But it’s safe to say that the market waters were well tested before we dove in. We knew people were interested, always asking “Where you get that shirt?”, and because they were reppin’ our clothes to death once they got there hands on them. You know, everyone was real supportive, even proud to have ’em and wear ’em. 

What’s story behind your name? What does Original Dankster mean? I’ve noticed the marijuana element in your logo. Tell us a bit more about it.

The name “Original Dakster” (OD) comes from the term “Original Gangster” (OG) and Dank, of course, is slang for the most potent of cannabis sativa; in fact, “dank” now has become a term used to describe anything of the highest quality. Anything can be considered as or referred to as “dank” so long as it’s the best of something. But it ain’t original if it ain’t got the stamp on it. Na mean? 

Why should people check out the your line?

We’ve got a solid following who buy everything we put out. So we know it’s something that resonates with people. The label was conceived and developed from the street up, with input and feedback all along the way. Everyone has told us to keep puttin’ out new designs and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’ve been advertising in some magazines and we’ve got a street team going out pushin’ shirts and flyers with our website, www.originaldankster.com or www.odapparel.com. You know, drumming up traffic. We’ve been sending orders to Florida, Virgina, California, New Jersey, Nevada, Colorado, Georgia, etc. Right now, we’re in the process of working on a whole new line of designs — new hats, new hoodies, etc. We’ll be revamping the website as well, so we’d urge everyone to keep checking for new stuff. It’ll be dope! 

Are there any hip-hop artists rocking O.D. gear?

Some of my boys here have an independent record label — CPK Muzik Inc. Current artists on the labl include Savion Saddam, Natural Ice, Gemstone, Unsolved, and Mystery. They rep OD gear faithfully 24/7. We’ve hooked up and are working on some projects together. They’re working on upcoming studio releases as well as shooting videos from the last album “PAYDAY” te be released on DVD. They’ve already sold 10,000 + copies of “PAYDAY” and are ordering 10,000 more copies. ODs are gonna show up in the new videos and we’ve got some interview footage done at OD headquarters with Savion Saddam talking about our clothes. That footage will probably make it past the cutting room floor and end up on one of the DVD volumes. We’re looking to make all the music and videos available on originaldankster.com. I’ll send you copies for review. The hip-hop/rap crowd has been real receptive of our vision and of what we’re about. And I’m grateful to all who have represented our clothes and who continue to support what we’ve done and what we’re about to do. 

A lot of labels start out underground, but later turn into something obscure. How would you retain your raw, street appeal and at the same time run a commercially viable entity?

You’re absolutely right about a lot of clothing labels starting underground and later turning into something obscure. However, it’s also true that many others start in the underground as obscure and turn into some of the better known and respected companies out there. I believe that’s because they are connected to the streets. It’s not necessarily about what’s trendy, but rather about what’s real is seem to resonate with customers. They know where we’re coming from. 

As far as retaining our street appeal at the same time as trying to be a commercially viable entity, I feel like the people who represent our label, those who are wearing out clothes, will keep it street for us instead on vice versa. They’ll let us know what is and is not acceptable, whether it will or will not float, and we’ll be paying attention ’cause that’s our job. And with a name like Dankster you know it comes from the streets and since that’s where our clothes are being worn we keep our eyes on ’em. We’re now expanding our retail base and are gearing up for more advertising, but I can’t imagine that selling more clothes will hurt our street cred. It’ll just make our street team stronger by numbers. As long as we keep droppin’ hot new designs and ideas, keep our quality intact and keep paying attention to feedback, we’ll be alright. You know, we usually test new designs by having them produced in small numbers and if they don’t go over well, we shelf ’em. The streets will let you know if you’ve got a product it wants. And right now I’m pretty damn convinced people are interested in our line. We just try to put out clothes that people are proud to wear and are comfortable in. Representing “Original Dankster” clothing is like being a part of a bigger family that recognises all its members by what they wear — sort of like a uniform that keeps changing. Everyone is loosely affiliated but tied together by a common thread and we’re going to keep spreadin’ ’em until they’re strung everywhere. From the ground up! Represent. 



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