Designer, Artist & Entrepreneur: Damon Way
Damon Way (@damon) is a designer, artist, and entrepreneur. He co-founded DC Shoes in 1994, has been the Chief Brand Officer for Incase Designs, and most recently launched skateboarding apparel brand FACT. (@factbrand).
Ello CEO Todd Berger (@todd) recently spoke with Damon about the impetus behind FACT., his capsule collection launch in Shibuya, Japan in collaboration with J. Grant Brittain, and Damon's own background in skater subculture.
You’ve had quite a storied career, founding a grip of super cool companies throughout the 90s and into the 2000s – Eightball Clothing, Dub Brand, Blunt Magazine, Type A Snowboards, Droors, DC Shoes and eventually Incase. Can you tell us a little about FACT., what it means to you as a brand and product company?
FACT. started out as a vehicle to channel all that inspired me creatively throughout the 1980s as a teenager. I grew up as a skateboarder who was very much into the punk scene, which cemented my long term connection to the various underground communities circling skateboarding, music, and art. The brand continues to evolve into a platform positioned to communicate and share the creative/DIY potency of those periods from a first person perspective.
How would you describe the FACT. ethos?
It is a brand tied to skateboarding, music, and art through the lens of the 80s and 90s. The name is derived from Factory Records, as they used this truncated version of their name paired with a number to catalog their album releases (LPs)… i.e., the first New Order LP called Movement was FACT.50, which is designed into the album cover art. This period of underground music is deeply important to me and has been the primary driver behind the brand and its ethos.
Your roots seem firmly planted in skateboarding and subcultural thinking in general. It seems like there’s a skate culture/subcultural connection to everything you do. Is this a fair assessment? Can you elaborate?
Yes, I tend to tip towards themes tied to the creative underground, with music being the biggest one, as there is so much there to discover and tap. I have stumbled across so much inspiration from decade to decade across a wide range of genres, which have existed mostly out of view unless plugged into a tribe of people who are pursuing the same. The early 80s, in particular, are probably the most important to me as I really love the Minimal Synth (lo-fi Wave) and Post-Punk periods…So much dark electronic experimentation going on during that time.
How and why did skateboarding become such an important part of your life? What does skateboarding as a subcultural movement mean to you?
I think skateboarding represents a sense of freedom and an alternative way to participate in society…It underscores a deep sense of individuality in a social environment that embraces it vs. being pressured to assimilate to the broader population out of fear and/or other drivers that force it.
Being a skateboarder myself, I’m super hyped on the FACT. brand vibe and initial product line. I know you’re releasing a new capsule collection in Shibuya, Japan next week in collaboration with J. Grant Brittain and Arkitip under the “In the Streets” moniker. Can you talk about the event, the collection, and the collaboration?
The “In The Streets” project is really a celebration of the 1980’s period of skateboarding…An outlaw period that was deeply tied to punk rock and a heavy DIY ethos. We have captured this through a series of photographs taken by skate photographer Grant Brittain and paired them with an extensive skateboard collection from the period that shows the unique creative expression of the prior owners through attached accessories, grip-tape designs, paint pen art, sticker arrangements, wear and tear, etc. We are very excited to bring this California-centric period of skateboarding over to Japan.
Scott A. Sant'Angelo from Arkitip (@arkitip) mentioned that Mike D is going to be DJing the release party & exhibition in Japan. How’d all of that come about? You have to be stoked...
Mike is a good friend of mine, so when we were putting this all together he came up as someone that was perfectly tied to the period in a very authentic way through his work with the Beastie Boys and early punk period of the band…It just made perfect sense.
What’s the future of FACT. look like? Can you paint the picture for us?
We are working towards a partnership with the group from Japan that is responsible for bringing Stussy to the region. With their support, I hope to expand on our apparel range by adding cut-n-sew to the current line-up of t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. This is where things will really come to life.
Follow FACT. on Ello, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter...and stay tuned for some FACT. giveaways coming soon.