Ones to Watch: Meet David Friend of Worstok
David Friend is the 21-year old designer behind Worstok. Today the brand drops the lookbook for their fourth collection, Montessorri, which pulls inspiration from an alternative education philosophy and punk/revolt culture.
As the youngest of 10 siblings, Friend was homeschooled and always had a creative mind. At the age of 16, Friend moved to Los Angeles where he began a career in modeling and fashion while working as a stylist assistant for Sean Knight. Soon after he garnered the attention of Anthony Vaccarello, the current creative director of Saint Laurent, where he soon became the face of the brand. While living in LA, he was later introduced to Rudy Grazziani, an Art Center student, who came from a family of seamstresses. Grazziani was naturally drawn towards using his hands; his background is rooted in painting and drawing. All passions considered, the pair eventually teamed up to create their own brand.
Their collections have been praised by the likes of A$AP Rocky and Madeintyo and are continuosly gaining more momentum. Read below for an in-depth discussion regarding their brand identity, the inspiration for this upcoming collection, and more.
How would you describe your brand’s ethos?
Worstok is a planet that Rudy and I want all these different characters to live on. It’s definitely influenced by a punk/revolt culture, which doesn’t have to be human at all. It’s more like human traits, but animal mannerisms. It’s kind of like a diminished future, something that is new that somehow had enough time to get old.
With Worstok we are trying to make a, “real life world” and a “virtual world.” The “virtual world,” would be in digital space [animation & programming] in the way of making these characters and releasing clothes. The “real world,” is actually creating music under the Worstok label, getting other artists jobs and eventually becoming a collective.
Is it important to Rudy and yourself to communicate your ideas through a collective?
Absolutely. We have worked with so many different artists and we always want to be in a space where we are collaborating and crediting the people we work with. It is absolutely a thing for us to bigger than just us.
Now, pivoting into this upcoming collection, what did Montessorri pull inspiration from?
The number one thing for me and Rudy is that we love fabrics. So starting there is huge. Coming up with ideas we usually start with a fabric and then we go into drawing. After that, we discuss the concepts of the overall collection, which for this season was introducing an education system into our world.
We have these people, we have these characters, we had my upbringing as the creator and then Rudy’s upbringing. Then we introduced the creatures. Now for our fourth collection, we want our creatures to have an education.
You describe your SS20 lookbook as your “favorite one so far.” Why?
My assistant Alyssa really came through. She found this amazing location which was actually her mom’s classroom in Bakersfield. We had some friends who live out there and that are huge supporters of the brand; that mixed with a bunch of homies I knew from Florida. So there were a lot of random people who all came out and supported. We had the freedom to do whatever we wanted because it was summer and there was no school. Also, I brought all my sketches which I typically have displayed in my room and we decorated the whole class with them. I had my sister come out to shoot with only two days notice and we were able to get all the necessary equipment. All of it came together beautifully without spending any money.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing to focus on while running a brand in 2019?
I’m not speaking from experience, what I am saying is just the first thing to come to my mind. I don’t know how long retail is going to be a thing, so you really got to build an audience of people who want to buy your stuff naturally not because of the hype. You should be focusing on engaging with your fanbase through whatever medium, whether it is responding to their messages or replying to their comments on social media. That is something I am working on and looking to improve, you need to let people know that you care.
What are some of the personal goals you have for yourself and with Worstok to close out the year?
For our brand, we were in five stores last season and I would like to get that number to around 9-10 for this new collection. I believe that would show natural growth and at the same time be manageable. I am also making another film with Nathalie Cunningham, who directed my last short film. We were talking about making a film focused on more acting. So I am really excited for that.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Anthony Cabaero
FASHION ASSISTANT: Omar Sandlin
SET DESIGN: Gurina Chae
Lookbook images courtesy of Matea Friend.
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