Come Dine With Me... Dashiel Brahmann
If the name Dashiel Brahmann isn’t already in your vocabulary then commit it to memory now. The New York-based designer is your go-to for the closet-changing pieces you will love just as much next season - think anytime shirts, relaxed tailoring and timeless knits. We caught up with Brahmann over Japanese tapas in a Brooklyn izakaya to talk creativity, craftsmanship, music and of course, food…
Where are you and what are you eating?
I’m eating Japanese food at Takumen LIC, an izakaya in Brooklyn where my intern works.
Why did you choose this spot?
The food and vibes are amazing. I’ve had a handful of friends work here and it’s how I met my current intern Ryo Shibiyama. Best intern in the world!
What’s your favourite thing on the menu and why?
I couldn’t choose one favourite. Top three, in no particular order, are: Soy garlic chicken wings (Japanese-style fried chicken), spicy goma miso (a non-traditional ramen that you have to try) and the Hawaiian tuna poke rice bowl (an assortment of veg alongside beautiful pieces of tuna coated in their house made poke sauce.)
Let’s talk about the ingredients that make up your career. How did you get started?
It all started as a kid with the boom of skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding. I loved flipping through catalogues and circling my favourite items. I always dreamt of designing clothing for surf companies but didn’t ever see it as a reality.
Then in my early twenties I got a job at Burberry as a sales associate in my hometown. This led me to explore a whole new world of quality and craftsmanship. After a few months of long drives to night classes at FIT in NYC I was accepted and enrolled in the Menswear Design program. I graduated top of my class, won scholarships and had great internships and jobs at the likes of Thom Browne, Pilgrim Surf + Supply and Patrik Ervell.
My first offering was put together whilst working at Pilgrim Surf + Supply in Brooklyn. The owners agreed to give it a try in the shop on consignment. It sold out in about a month. After that it was another two years before I decided to throw another collection together. We picked up a handful of Japanese stockists in the first season of 2017, and since then it’s morphed and grown into the brand it is today.
What are the essentials for creating the Dashiel Brahmann label?
During my brief time at Primo, the tailoring factory that Thom Browne started his company with, Rocco Ciccarelli told me his three core principles. Number one, a garment must make the client look better than they do without it. Number two, it must be comfortable - without comfort your product is useless. Number three, each garment must be built to last. Whilst simple, these ideas are how I approach each and every garment. Our clothing aims to answer the question of what practical elegance is.
How does music influence your work?
I play a lot of guitar. Each garment is much like a song and, like a great song, means something different to each listener or wearer. Each collection is similar to an album cover; it’s the overarching story that’s told through fabric selection and silhouette.
What does it take to be relevant in the fashion industry today?
I think right now it’s largely about marketing. The story of craftsmanship and skill is being lost to the pull of cool factor. I have hope that this will change.
Your work is elegant and timeless and yet thoroughly modern. How do you find the balance between the flavours?
I like ideas and experiences that are dynamic and unpredictable; when an artist or experience leaves you breathless and desiring more. There is always something thrilling about people who evoke a sense of mystery. I design clothing for the person you see walking down the street who you’ve never seen before, but can’t take your eyes off.
How do you cook up an idea? Talk us through your creative process.
Ideas can be sparked by anything and pop up at any time. You need to be aware enough that you can hold on to one and form it into something rock solid. That’s where the work lies.
Now for the fun questions - favourite thing to eat?
In Rome there’s a place called Giolitti and they serve the best gelato I’ve ever had. If I could I would have their gelato at least twice a week. The order is a medium cone with three scoops: Dark chocolate, Fior di Panna and banana.
Least favourite thing to eat?
If the Dashiel Brahmann label was a dish, what would it be and why?
Ravioli from Osteria Da Fortunata. A dish that’s simple yet complex.
What would be your last meal and where?
Ideally somewhere special with friends and family. A shoreside cliff with a cool breeze overlooking the ocean, just before sunset.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Lately I’m trying to get out of the city as much as possible to surf and spend time with my girlfriend Sam.
In life, what’s the best recipe for success?
Resilience, persistence and balance.
They say that success smells sweet. What does it smell like to you?
Photography by Jonathan Middleton
Interview by Georgia Graham