Dertbag: The Genesis of Modern Style
Fashion plays an instrumental role in shaping culture and music. But does the music influence fashion or does fashion influence the music? Perhaps a bit of both. When rap emerged as America’s biggest music genre in the late 1980’s fashion brands like FuBu, Echo and Rocawear soon partnered with artists such as Jay-Z and Tupac. Overnight, these brands went from obscurity to international sensations. These early partnerships brought together both audiences and established hip-hop not only as musical but a cultural movement as well.
Today, fashion and music are still inextricably linked together. An artist’s style or fashion sense is just as relevant to music audiences as it was twenty-five years ago in the beginnings of rap or fourty years ago during Rock’s early days. As human beings, we are just as intrigued by what we see as by what we hear. Michael Jackson became iconic with his white gloves and Tupac and other 90’s artists became known for their oversized shirts and baggie pants. Every music development has it’s own style which sets it apart.
When Tyler the Creator burst onto the scene his colorful Dertbag outfits caught peoples’ attention perhaps even more than his music. The music was great, but what was it he wearing? Not only did he sound diffrent from the frat rappers of the time - he looked the part too.
Wearing Dertbag in 2012 when it was still an emerging brand made artist like Tyler and Earl appear mysterious. Who were these people, and most importantly, what were they wearing? In Noisey’s “24 hour with Odd Future” episode which was released in August 2012 the crew can be seen with Phillip Post, the owner and operator of Dertbag, wearing his designs. For many, this was their first impression of the Dertbag brand. Tyler and Dertbag gained notoriety together and since the debut, Dertbag and Tyler has continuously maintained it’s place as a leader in contemporary fashion and culture.
In 2018, the face tattoo trend is rampant in the music industry while in the 1990’s very few artists adopted the style.
As musicians have changed their style, designers have reflected this change in their clothing lines. Post’s designs are playful and experimental, his “prototypes” seem more like abstract paintings then t-shirts. Unlike conventional fashion, Post’s designs invert our expectations. All of his work is created by hand in his studio and Post is intimately involved in the design process of his clothes. When Dertbag releases a new collection, all of the clothes have been designed, screen-printed or painted by Philip Post himself. The personal touch adds value not only for the clothes but for the fans as well whom feel a connection the brand. Unlike the designers of the 90’s, whom were often entrepreneurs interested in a quick buck, the clothes produced by Dertbag and FTP are only done in small runs and sell out within hours on their website.
Only one Dertbag store exists in Bridgeport, Connecticut and you can find Phillip in his store surrounded by his artwork. The exclusivity of the clothing keeps them from being dulled by a mainstream market. In his Bridgeport store, his t-shirts hang on the walls likes gilded canvases.
One of the most difficult processes for brands such as Dertbag, typically viewed as “streetwear”, has been making the crossover from streetwear to high fashion. But this has never been a problem for Dertbag. Unlike other contemporary brands, Dertbag has been able to bridge into stores such as Barneys and even appear in Kanye’s “Yeezy Season 5” and New York Fashion Week. As Post said in his Fader interview, his “work speaks for itself”. Even if someone had no idea about Dertbag’s connection to contemporary music, they would still appreciate Phillip’s seamless designs which will make you standout in any situation. Screen printing, a process which used to be considered punk, has now been able to extend into the realm of high fashion and art.
Post’s handmade clothes have clearly endeared Dertbag to a community of emerging fans searching for a physical connection to the digital stratosphere. The name itself, Dertbag, is was created by Phillip Post while sitting in the hospital with Crohn’s disease and reproaching God’s (if there is one) judgement. Like a modern day rapper, Phillip is not afraid to re-purpose icons in his art in order to reflect our contemporary culture’s attitude. The cross frequently appears upside or broken on Dertbag clothing.
Hailing from Connecticut, this unlikely state has become the breeding grounds for Dertbag’s creative conceptions. Plenty of other teenagers his age were more focused on Lacrosse practice then streetwear, but Phillip Post was different, a bastion of individuality in a sea of suburban mediocrity. However, anyone who lives there would know this is the perfect quiet place for an artist to develop uninterrupted by distractions. Through the power of the internet, Dertbag has become a world of it’s own.
Post’s designs connect obscure corners of the internet to the realms of high fashion. When people wear Post’s clothing, and become interested his generation’s art and culture, that then the music is ready to be fully embraced by the society. No longer can gatekeepers deny the ubiquity of his generation’s artistic movement. Since Dertbag’s arrival there have been a handful of new brands which have emerged but few have attained it’s level of success or it’s staying power.