Do you remember what you were doing with your life at 18? Probably spent your days sleepwalking through your last year of highschool, causing chaos with your friends in an endless search for fun and cool things to do. Well, while most teenagers were just killing time, Everard Best was spending that time creating his own high fashion clothing line, Lease On Life Society. And now the 22 year old Best and his menswear line are paving new roads in the fashion industry.
Picking a location for interviews is not one of my strong points, so I settled on my go to venues, coffee shops. I met up with Best at the Cake Shop, which doesn’t sell cake by the way, in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, which is now a shallow version of its artistic, raw, drug-filled state of day’s past. Best was stylishly sitting at the bar when I walked in and one of my first thoughts was how great his red leather jacket was, which complemented the clean aesthetic he was rocking that day, “right now I don’t really care what I were, it’s just how I feel when I wake up,” said Best.
Hailing from Elmont, NY, Best gives a lot of credit to his home town for making him the person he is today “I was always influenced by the people around me,”said Best. “There was a lot of creative kids in the neighbor.” That influence and creative environment gave him the confidence to start his own clothing brand in high school, starting off with screen printing shirts(the process of pressing ink designs onto shirts and other materials).
After the warm reception, Best decided that fashion was his calling.With that realization, he came to the decision that he wanted to step up his clothing from the basic screen printing that he was currently doing, into the more advanced cut and sew aspect of clothing. He decided to speak to his father and ask him to help him with his plans. Probably the most amazing part of Best story is that his Father was on board with him taking Lease On Life Society to the next level and became a co-own.
“He is just like I want to say, he’s the skeleton I’m more like the brain” said Best “he makes sure everything happens the way it needs to happen, in terms of the construction of the garments, patterns, all the technical stuff.” Best has complete appreciation for his father and his help, and plans on giving him a big check as soon as he can “because I owe that to him.”
With Lease On Life Society becoming bigger and more established, life for the young kid from New York is starting to change. With frequent work trips slowly becoming the norm, “I’m actually going out there [Los Angeles] to live for a portion of next year.” While he loves New York he considers Los Angeles to be a easier place to work and connect, which would not be the first time I’ve heard that from a creative. “You could be out in LA for like two weeks and connect with key people that you needed to meet.” Although not not all the changes in lifestyle are positive. The Fashion world contains many vices that started attracting the religious Best. Which slowly developed into an internal a moral plight. “During that time I was really dealing with a lot of vices, like alcohol, drugs, women and all types of stuff. So it’s like myself being a Christian, I had an identity crisis.”
Like any artist Best work is influenced by his life, mood and surroundings, so he channeled his internal conflict into his recent BRVD”O4 collection. One piece from that collection is his “Welcome To Hell” jersey, which Best created not to be cool or trendy, but because at the time he felt that he was in a living hell. “So it’s just like a messages to myself,” Best said. “it’s not the way how I was brought up.”
After realizing the impact these transgressions were having on his life, Best went through a period of soul searching to get his spirit back in order, “I just felt like I can’t live how everyone else is living, because I want to be here for a long time,” Best said. “I’m just trying to keep that communication with God, walk with God, I’m trying to focus on the goal.”
Best also likes to use social media as a form of focus testing for his clothing, a market technique that he thinks is extremely helpful. He’ll release a picture of a product and gauge the responses to it, “if people are like ‘Yo, that’s crazy I need that’ I’m going to release it. But if I post a picture and people don’t like it then I know I can’t put it out.” Best says that the instant feedback you get from social media can be really helpful in building your brand, but advises that you should be strong of mind while employing it. “You can get called out, you can get put on, you can get broken down. It’s just you have to be smart with what you’re doing.”
The trade off of that new exposure is the fast pace of the internet and short attention spans of it’s users. You need to keep up a constant stream of content via social media to stay relevant. “You can’t stop putting out content because the minute you stop putting out relevant impactful and meaningful content, people are gonna forget about you,” Best said. He learned that lesson the
hard way at the beginning of his career.Although, there was a period of time when he got discouraged and comfortable in where he was in life. “I was just gonna go to school, be a Finance major and go to law school afterwards,” Best laments. “But after a while I realized that’s not what I want to do.” Once he came back to his passion, he saw how much traction he had lost during his lull and promised himself that he will never let it happen again.
With the large exposure you generate it’s only a matter of time until you come into the eye of large fashion houses, which comes with it’s own sets of interesting benefits and problems.Best believes that while the fashion houses are aware of him, they refuse to give him the credit that he has earned, they consider new young designers like him as “outsiders.” He explains that once you start off as a “streetwear” brand they deem to see you as that forever. “Even like Virgil Abloh, he had an interview on Vogue or something and they’re like ‘elevated streetwear,’” Best said. “But I’m sure Virgil doesn’t see himself like ‘elevated streetwear’ or ‘high fashion streetwear,’ I bet he sees himself as a designer.”
While these Fashion brands are ignoring these new designers and putting them into a lower caste “streetwear” box, they seem to be simultaneously taking notes. With a lot of brands now releasing items like joggers, sweatsuits and other clothing staples popular with street brands you start to wonder what makes the distinction between the two and who gets to decide it. Best also says that while some of these brands are inspired by them, even though they won’t admit it, others are more nefarious. “Big fashion houses are looking at my clothes and it’s like ‘ok, y’all are watching obviously’” Best said. “Y’all are doing these denim looks identical to ours. You know what, that jacket looks exactly like my jacket.”
Now before people suggest that he takes off the tinfoil hat, I personally have seen brands “magically” release a clothing style and aesthetic after a smaller brand releases theirs, and I also know a few people, who I won’t name, whose jobs at certain fashion companies is to spend all day on the internet looking at sites and different social networks. So I believe that some of Best suspicions could very well be true. But he doesn’t let that discourage him, because he knows that they will always be a step behind him. Because while they look at him and other young designers for inspiration, those same designers are looking nowhere but ahead for the vision of their clothes.
While Best says he would be lying if he said he didn’t want the big fashion houses approval, he is more interested in building something up himself instead of waiting around for their praise. It’s hard not to bring to mind Kanye West and his rants about not being included into the ranks of these fashion houses. I always believed that Kanye was better off creating something on his own and not seek and beg for acceptance from them, and I’m happy to see that Best is of the same mind. “I want to leave something for my kids. Lease On Life Society, I want to leave that to my kids, to my brother’s kids, to my family” Best said. “Whenever I’m gone, pick that up keep it going, keep it moving. Building something for yourself, for your family, a legacy.”