Interview... Tremaine Emory
To borrow a quote from Lil Wayne, “Real Gs move in silence like lasagne.” It is a line that is unquestionably true of Tremaine Emory (a.k.a. Denim-Tears). While it’s quite possible you haven’t heard of him – he often prefers to do much of his work behind the scenes – he’s probably had a hand in something you love. The New York-born cultural arbiter counts Stussy, A$AP Rocky, Kanye West and Frank Ocean amongst his vast list of collaborators and friends – in fact, Emory was involved in the roll-out of Ocean’s recent three-pronged offering of a video album (Endless), an LP (Blond) and zine (Boys Don’t Cry).
Away from consulting on projects, he is also one half of the radio-show turned streetwear brand No Vacancy Inn. Along with Acyde – a musician, DJ and possibly the only person that can pull off snakeskin Saint Laurent cowboy boots – the duo travel the world hosting parties and making cultural connections. Although they both officially reside in London, they’ve stopped off in New York, Milan, Paris and Tokyo in the last few months alone. It’s this kind of lifestyle that gave rise to the name No Vacancy Inn, which is their own “ethereal hotel. Think the Chelsea Hotel on legs,” says Emory.
But beyond his globetrotting antics and enviable group of friends, he has garnered a reputation for his own inimitable style. At the heart of it is an appreciation of certain niche Japanese menswear labels, namely Needles and Kapital, which he mixes with Supreme and Raf Simons. Unsurprisingly, others have quickly followed – there are now swathes of the internet’s youth wearing Needles’ instantly-recognisable re-cut flannel shirts and tracksuit tops.
When we speak to Emory, he is in Miami, working on a project with New York art-led radio station Know-Wave for Art Basel. Here, we discuss shopping in Japan, his own personal style and why Kanye had a custom Needles cardigan made for his daughter.
It’s been good man. We’re doing some interesting stuff here. We’ve teamed up with Know-Wave to do a house, which we’re doing this until Saturday.
You’re a big fan of Needles. What first brought the brand to your attention?
Michael Koppelman from Gimme5/Stussy Tribe – there’s numerous other things he’s done too (Editors note – he brought Visvim and BAPE to the U.K.). One day, like five years ago, he was walking down Mount Street and he had on the re-cut flannel shirt. I didn’t know him as well as I do now, but I was like ‘Hey Michael, where’s that shirt from,’ and he was like ‘It’s Needles.’ I started doing my research from there.
You were in Japan recently, did you check out the Kapital and Nepenthes (Needles’ parent company) store?
Yeah, the Kapital store checked me out [laughs]. Checked my bank account out. I went to the Nepenthes store, they had great stuff, but I had bought the Needles stuff I wanted from that season already.
The Kapital store… Me and Acyde went, it was all-encompassing. It wasn’t even about the clothing I bought; it was the staff, the way the store was adorned, the huge brolic lookbook they have – everything. From top to bottom, the experience was absolutely incredible – it felt like you were in a museum not a retail store.
As John Mayer said – he’s a huge Kapital fan, when I can’t find my size it’s usually ‘cause he’s already bought it [laughs] – but Acyde told me about an interview where he is talking about Kapital, and he says it’s like a fever dream. It’s intoxicating.
You posted on Instagram recently: ‘I look at my DMs and it’s like looking at a reflection…’ in reference to the number of kids now wearing Needles because of the likes of yourself, A$AP Bari and Ian Connor. What are your thoughts on that?
Ha… It was just funny because the kid was styling it how I would wear it. Someone hit me on Twitter recently like, ‘I see so many kids wearing Needles, they need to pay homage to Denim Tears and Acyde.’ And I’m like, they don’t! They didn’t make the brand for me. If you wanna be so unique get your clothes made custom.
I was just joking with that post… It’s not biting if you wear the same brand as someone else. You know, me and (A$AP) Rocky have this inside joke about the Gucci jeans with the embroidery… I was like, ‘I’m gonna get those,’ and he was like ‘you won’t fit ‘em.’ Finally I found a pair, like ‘look motherfucker, they fit!’ [laughs]. But Rocky’s going to wear them how he wears it, and I’ma wear them how I wear it – they didn’t make them for him and they didn’t make them for me.
So it’s not about who wore it first…
Me and Acyde both copped the track pants on the same day a couple of years ago in New York. And a couple months later we were in Japan, or somewhere, and Ian Connor saw me wearing them and just went and got stuff from the Needles store. Then I ended up on a moodboard wearing a Needles cardigan and Kanye had one made for Nori, you know, a smaller version… I just think it’s all love. I love Kanye’s art. And if he thinks Needles is dope, that’s dope.
So what is it that makes the brand stand out for you?
Needles is fun. I think style should always be about fun, it’s not that serious. Clothes are not that serious – I know it is to people, but it’s clothing, there’s so much other stuff going on in the world. So it’s nice when brands don’t take themselves too serious but they take the quality serious. Like Gucci – it isn’t super fashion anymore, it’s more fun. It’s approachable to anyone that can afford it, and it’s the same thing with Needles and I think that’s very important, for people to be comfortable and have things that represent the culture that they’re into.
Finally, what’s planned for No Vacancy Inn in the coming weeks and months?
Today we’re dropping a collab with V-Lone at Art Basel, there’ll be a pop-up too. We’re doing another drop of t-shirts at Dover Street Market in the next week or two, and we have some interesting collabs coming next year that I can really get into. New things always happening… And more radio, loads of radio, and a Youtube channel.