Every time I feel drained by New York City, I remind myself how amazing it is that on any given night you can go out and meet some of the coolest people in the world – and just that happened to me a few weeks ago. I was at a friend's apartment when I was stopped dead in my tracks by a man wearing velcro fabric sneakers customized with various colored letters (see image below). Turns out the guy wearing them, Ricky, was one half of brother design duo, Dee and Ricky. A few seconds later, I met Dee and was in complete awe of their unique style. I quickly learned that they've collaborated with everyone from Marc Jacobs to Casio on artfully unique pieces. When people say that high end designers are inspired by street style, it's guys like Dee and Ricky that they're talking about.
Here's a look into their various collaborations, where their inspiration comes from, their newly opened restaurant, and what's to come from these fashion innovators.
The Fashion Spot: Were you always making your own clothing and accessories?
Ricky: Indeed. I started when I was about 14.
Dee: Yeah, I started around middle school. We were always fooling around with my grandmother's sewing machine.
tFS: You mentioned getting your start with Marc Jacobs. Can you tell us about how that came about?
Ricky: We were at a party in the Hamptons and Marc's friend asked me about a Gucci Lego belt design that I was wearing. He asked me where I got it from and I told him that my brother and I designed it; the dude said Marc would love it. I'm like, "Marc who?" He's like, "Marc Jacobs."
Dee: We didn't believe it, but we called him up and we had a meeting the next day at the Mercer Hotel. Boom and then magic happened…front row at New York Fashion Week featuring Dee and Ricky pieces.
tFS: You then branched out with a bunch of Lego accessories. How did they end up being worn by so many celebrities?
Ricky: We were doing some fashion consulting with some brands and our office was based out of Soho. Brands would use our pieces to accessorize their garments and stylists would notice and want to borrow the piece or NYC celebs would stop us and ask what it was we were wearing and where they could get the pieces.
tFS: At what point did your pieces start getting carried in stores and how did that come about?
Ricky: Our designs were carried in stores starting in 2007, but after the collaboration with Marc Jacobs, our presence grew significantly.
Dee: A few locations in Japan were the first to carry us, but the most memorable to date has been our collaboration with Casio because those pieces were carried in over 300 outlets.
tFS: You've collaborated with countless brands. Do they come about naturally through your social lives or do you actively pursue those opportunities?
Ricky: It goes both ways, but more socially. We can pursue many, but we go with the natural flow, we don't force collaborations; it has to make sense with us and for our brand.
tFS: Any collaboration go horribly wrong?
Dee: Yeah, if it went wrong, you haven't seen it!
Ricky: Back in the day we had a Jordan coming out, but the project got scrapped due to internal things over on their side but overall it's easy and fun designing cool stuff.
tFS: What has been your favorite collaboration so far?
Ricky: There are an abundance of favs…the Kehindie Wiley black light project was fun, designing for Takashi Murakami and Joy Rich was a good one…we murdered Japan with them and we are also working with Pony currently… that's one of my favorite collaborations at the moment.
tFS: Anything we'd be surprised to learn about working with Nike, Puma, Takashi Murakami, etc.?
Ricky: Uhhhhhhh… yeah, the majority of the stuff we did we had no management behind us.
tFS: Anything you guys were surprised to learn?
Ricky: I'm kind of surprised that our stuff is big in Europe, America and Asia. It's an amazing feeling, we definitely appreciate our supporters.
tFS: Can you tell us about your own line?
Ricky: Our line is inspired by our experience, travels, toys, cartoons and our whimsical lifestyles.
Kanye West wearing a Dee and Ricky Lego heart pin
tFS: Favorite pieces you've ever designed?
Ricky: Some Lego hearts for Kanye.
Dee: I would say the solid gold box cutter for our upcoming art exhibit and the Lego hearts of course.
tFS: Whose style do you admire?
Ricky: Victoria Beckham and Daphne Guinness.
Dee: The cartoon character Richie Rich. He was always swagged out.
tFS: Luxury item you're lusting for?
Ricky: '88 Ferrari Testarossa…I'd make love to that tail pipe.
Dee: A Mercedes Benz helicopter.
tFS: Any style regrets?
Ricky: Nope never that.
tFS: Fashion pet peeves?
Ricky: I don't get the "let's wear a shirt like a kilt" thing. That hoopla baffles me.
Dee: Kilts. I f'in hate kilts.
tFS: You guys just opened a restaurant. How did that come about?
Ricky: We are big on culinary arts so we decided to take our talents to the kitchen.
Dee: At first we were actually considering opening up a Dee and Ricky concept shop in Manhattan, but we grew up cooking and wanted to try something new so we decided to open up Dee and Ricky's home cooking. The restaurant and our fashion are separate entities. Our experience in design concepts influenced the decor of the restaurant, be it the Louis Vuitton stools or the custom plates we designed.
tFS: You have an amazing backstory of overcoming hardship. How do you think your childhood influenced your drive to succeed?
Ricky: Just being inspired by different things in the world and being different and not giving a f*** what people have said. Seeing the flashy drug dealers with the nice cars, boosting high end clothing from the mall, living in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Bronx and NYC, being a risk-taker…not letting the money make ya.
Dee: We were always having fun doing what we were doing, so sky's the limit.
tFS: What's up next for you guys? Dream projects?
Ricky: Thinking about purchasing a building and opening some retail spots, who knows. Our life is really random, but definitely more travel in store and designing more cool stuff and continuing to save the day through our fashion endeavors.
Dee: Designing a line with Scholastic and Crayola, something charitable preferably. Stay tuned.