To coincide with the launch of Real Bad Man, a new Los Angeles label repurposing and reimagining graphics from the zeitgeist of counterculture, we catch up with founder Adam Weissman to find out what he's got in store...
Hey Adam, thanks for chatting with us. First of all, what’s your creative background?
Thanks for chatting as well. I have an agency out in Los Angeles called CHAMP! We do a lot of production/content creation, consulting, as well as art direction and graphics work.
I was the art director for Stussy for what seems like forever… not in a bad way though! I'm still with Stussy consulting as an art director, but I have been building our agency for a little while now. We work with a bunch of different companies but work a lot with Chris Gibbs and Union LA on their clothing brand. We just did the first 2 campaigns and the seasonal creative for the re-launch of Nike ACG.
You’re also in a band, right?
Yes, Pollyn. We put out 3 records but don’t really function as a traditional band anymore. We ended the band last year but since have been recording new material. Genevieve Artadi, my musical partner, has her other band, Knower. They tour all the time. She and I just finished a new project that is currently nameless.
Listen to Real Bad Man's Good Vibes mix here:
So, what made you want to start your own label?
I wanted to do something fun that was all my weird influences jumbled up together. Something that was my own, that I’d be 100% in control of, both the good and the bad. Streetwear today takes itself way too seriously, it probably stems from the blurring lines between it and fashion. It’s so stiff. I wanted to create something that was inspired by the brands I grew up with like early BAPE, old SSUR, definitely Silas, PAM, Hysteric, and Gimme Five. Each of those brands had very strong graphic POVs that were very unique. That is missing today, for the most part. It doesn’t have to be immature, but it also can be fun, smart, and unpretentious.
Where do the name and logo come from? The aesthetic is pretty sneaky…
Well… the logo is a shady criminal character slanging stolen watches. He’s this underworld hustler straight out of the 70’s. We looked at how we were approaching our graphics and the sensibility of “lifting” artwork and repurposing it into designs – the artwork is his watches and we are slanging them to whoever wants to get down. We’re having fun with the idea of stealing/sampling and creating something new with it. He’s a bad man, doing bad things, he’s doing real bad things.
What are the label’s influences? You seem to be into things as diverse as forgotten film noir and underground comic books…
Our influences might seem diverse, but they aren’t. Music, movies and counterculture, comics included, but they all fall into this offbeat cult-classic category. We are not referring to anything incredibly commercial or mainstream. These are the underground classics we always come back to. RBM has a crew and we’ve known each other for quite a while, but no one went to high school together. We all have the same general influences from our youth. And we pull from that for the brand. There's a synergy with what we were in to whilst growing up that is part of the RBM ethos.
You’ve referenced the band CAN a fair bit in this first collection, how come?
Really, those designs are what set it off for RBM. And If I want to keep it really real, Undercover did some CAN merch and they sold out of the jacket I wanted, so I was like “fuck it, I’m going to make my own CAN merch and just sell it on Instagram”. Once we started going, we had created this logo of the criminal with the watches and the brand had its identity! We thought “this is cool; this can be a brand.” CAN will not appear in future seasons, I just had to get it out of my system.
Your first lookbook was titled “Class of Summer ‘18” and you featured people such as Eric Elms and Alexis Taylor. Can you tell us a bit about that? Why did you choose the guys that are featured in it?
So that photoshoot is going to be in the next issue of NEW ORDER MAGAZINE (shout out James Oliver!!). They are doing an article on the brand and suggested we shoot portraits of our friends wearing the clothing. I took that and came back with awkward class portraits. I’m a fan of that opening sequence of Freaks and Geeks, and that was a big reference, but also if you just google horrible high school yearbook photos and you’ll find a plethora of great images. We rented that backdrop and invited friends to a studio and tried to take bad photos of them. Off moments that you wouldn’t normally see in a lookbook or magazine. There was a shoot in Tokyo too. Everyone in there has some sort of connection to me or the brand, and that was super important to me. I’ve known Elms for way over a decade, maybe close to 15 years… and Powers and Real Bad Man are family. We share a lot of resources, so that was easy. I was introduced to Alexis through Will Sweeney maybe two years ago and we did a song together with my band - Pollyn featuring Alexis Taylor “Findaway”.
Alexis happened to be in LA on tour, so he came by and shot the photo. Hot Chip is one of my favourite bands, so I was psyched on our song together and super happy he was in the class photo. Also, I didn’t know this at the time, but Geoff McFetridge, who’s in the class photos, actually directed the opening sequence to Freaks and Geeks that we were referencing. I sent him the mood board so he could see what I was getting him into, and he said: “I directed that!”. It was perfect, he knew what needed to be done to get the perfect awkward photo.
What can we expect next from Real Bad Man?
Season 2! We are moving into drug counterculture for Season 2, it’s pretty bonkers. Slowly adding some cut and sew pieces into the mix. I like clothing too, so we’ll do some key pieces here and there to keep it exciting. Fall '18!