Cadence @ DSM – A chat with Dustin KleinAugust 19th, 2012 by @hnechr
‘One Begets The Other’ is a new installation at Dover Street Market by Dustin Klein, the man behind cycling apparel brand Cadence. Hand painted canvas walls and dismantled bike parts frame a space in DSM’s basement, where a selection of Cadence pieces will be on show and sale until August 31. We had a chat with Dustin about why this exhibition marks a juncture for him…
Tell us about Cadence – when and why did you start it?
Cadence is lifestyle cycling apparel, a brand I started in 2003 when I was working as a bike messenger. At the time there was clothing for skateboarders, but no clothing was being made for bike messengers so I decided to make some myself.
For seven years I did everything, all the screen-printing, design, shipping – it was a self-taught one-man band. At that point, the brand was also my artwork; I used Cadence as an outlet, with a means of distribution, for anything I wanted to make. Two years ago, I partnered up with another guy who has a history with apparel distribution. We jumped into cut and sew, and from there it kind of turned into more of a proper brand.
How have the designs and process developed since then?
Function has always been huge part of it, something that in the beginning I wanted but didn’t have the resources to do. The way I design Cadence pieces now, I always ask: ‘How is this function in life?’ – life to me meaning cycling. As much as I can, I will get samples and just live in them, so that I can eliminate any unnecessary elements and make sure the clothes are simple and efficient. Like the shirt I’m wearing now: It has all these little functional details like a simple pen pocket, a back pocket, a little more stretch across the back – but it looks like a proper shirt. The design is quite straightforward, but it has to look good.
It was always a very organic process of just figuring it out as you go along and teaching yourself how to do the things you need to do. People used to make so much more stuff in the past, now that is the radical thing. Both with the brand, and with DKlein – which is the moniker I use for my artwork – I didn’t necessarily know how anything was going to work but I always felt like if I just sit around, nothing’s going to happen. We all worry about failing, but to me the point has always been to just enjoy the process of making something that may or may not look stupid.
Your work is so diverse, yet with Cadence you started out with something very niche. How have you maintained the balance between the functional and the conceptual aspects?
Cadence is almost like the funnel, what all that diversity goes into. One thing I really liked about the idea of a brand when I first started was the fact that it incorporated photography, design, sewing – all the things that most other projects usually just have one of. Sometimes it was very refreshing to be working towards a final product; it provides a framework and some boundaries, because at the end of the day you’re producing functional cycling gear. The real abstract stuff becomes the breaking point where it stops being functional, where it for me becomes DKlein.
So, ‘One Begets The Other’ – why an exhibition and why now?
This exhibition is really cool, because it’s a good example of how I am starting to separate between the brand and myself – between Cadence and DKlein. Initially when I started the brand it was like, ‘I’ll start this clothing brand and then in a couple of years it will be doing great and I can just make art all the time.’ 10 years later…well, it’s slowly starting to happen - now!
The exhibition almost feels like a send-off party. In the past, I would have said this is just a Cadence installation, and Cadence is just me. Now, however, Cadence isn’t just me – there are lots of other people who work on it and it has become a very different thing. Although there are still similarities, the separation between the clothing and the installation feels much more distinct. Dover Street Market is the perfect place to do that too, because they understand so well the mixture between conceptual art and the fashion side of things.