The concept of Art Dad first came to Tremaine Emory and DJ Acyde last summer, during a late-night conversation about Kanye West’s Madison Square Garden show, during which he presented both The Life of Pablo and Yeezy Season 3. Emory — under his personal handle @denimtears — posted a few cryptically titled images of prototypical Art Dads like Andre 3000, Kurt Cobain, and West, and the moniker caught on.
“The streets are talking,” Emory recalled Off-White's Virgil Abloh texting him shortly after. “The streets have spoken — what are we going to do about this?” Emory and Acyde had just joined forces as the event production, music, and design collective No Vacancy Inn, earlier in the year, and had already expanded to encompass a merch line for Dover Street Market, podcasts, radio shows, and parties and events alongside members of New York’s A$AP Mob. Both had both known Abloh for years, part of overlapping circles of mutual friends and collaborators. And so a collaboration between the three--Off-White c/o A®TDAD LLC--was born, the product of an Instagram and an iMessage.
Off-White c/o A®TDAD LLC, which officially debuted alongside Abloh’s main ready-to-wear line Thursday, includes pieces such as a leopard-print boiler suit, a shearling trench coat, lurex socks, chunky slides that recall Birkinstocks, and an oversized corduroy jacket. It channels influences including Italian futurist Fortunato Depero, whose work inspired the sock patterns, to the textures and rich, lived-in feel of ’70s vintage.
“You wouldn’t wear it to Trump’s inauguration,” mused Ermory.
“It’s not clothes for bankers, let’s put it that way,” Acyde added.
While Off-White c/o A®TDAD LLC represents a uniform for Art Dads everywhere, the Art Dad is also defiantly themselves; they’re united more by their idiosyncrasies than any particular aesthetic. An Art Dad is youthful, though not necessarily young, but a young person can also be an Art Dad. They value responsibility, they digest influences throughout history without repeating them. Here are just a few examples of Art Dads throughout history: Andre 3000, Julian Schnabel, Justin Vernon, Patti Smith, Carrie Brownstein, and Kanye West. (Abloh, too, probably counts as an Art Dad.) Acyde and Emory themselves, the architects of the Art Dad life, describe their respective looks as a “hodge-podge” of influences — for Emory, it’s Star Wars and David Lynch and Wu-Tang Clan and Miles Davis, while for Acyde, it’s a method of filtering through the music he’s been consuming and creating.
In many ways, Art Dad is more easily defined by what it’s not than what it is, which is ephemeral and individual — “It’s just a very spirit-based thing,” explained Acyde. “We don’t want to make it too elitist. We want people from every generation to come hang out with us and ask us questions. More than anything else, Art Dad is a social statement.”
And, in spite of its name, the Art Dad is also a gender-neutral concept.
“Art Dad is not gender-specific. It’s such a loaded word, the word dad,” Acyde said. “It means patriarch, but ultimately, it’s a phrase.” To that end, the Off-White capsule collection, like Abloh’s primary ready-to-wear line, doesn’t play according to any traditional gender definitions. Both Emory and Acyde previewed the capsule collection on Instagram in the week leading up to the launch; Acyde captioned one image of the shearling trench, shown on a woman model during a fitting, “A®TDAD was always a non gender specific concept... tbh & tbf... this might be the epitome of how it should be worn.”
Still, Off-White c/o A®TDAD LLC pieces, while quintessential Art Dad, are “a first-level indication that you’re part of a tribe of people,” Emory said. The Art Dad life must be lived as well as worn.
“No Vacancy Inn is really a hotel,” Emory said. “Art Dad is one of the rooms.” Other rooms are filled with Acyde’s musical projects, No Vacancy Inn merch, and various other projects. He corrected himself: “It’s a suite.”
Like Will Ferrell in Elf, Kanye West just wants to bring joy to the world: