We are all morally and culturally bankrupt. At least that's what Duke George, creative director of the pop culture-inspired brand Cloney, believes. To him, this customizable streetwear brand, which is loved by A-list celebrities, functions as equal part beacon and mirror. We sat down with Duke to learn more about what inspired his designs and the significance behind them.
Yale Breslin: What was the mission behind launching Cloney? Since it’s launch, how has it evolved?
Duke George: Cloney lives at the intersection of pop culture, art, fashion, and music. Beginning as an innovative rap group, Cloney has evolved into a multidisciplinary creative force and lifestyle brand embraced by innovators, tastemakers and celebrities alike. Whether designing streetwear that perfectly encapsulates a moment in time or debuting new audio and visual snacks that equally puts that moment to a beat, Cloney is equal parts beacon and mirror.
YB: You’ve built the idea of celebrity into your brand. Can you tell me a little bit about this?
DG: It’s more about being inspired by pop-culture that is the DNA of the brand and what the brand is built around. The fact that so many people of note have adopted the collection is really just a validation that Cloney is hitting the pulse with its innovative collections.
YB: Speaking of, why do you think celebrities have gravitated so hard towards Cloney?
DG: Again being arbiters of pop culture themselves, I think Cloney taps into a message, a vibe, a feeling that they relate to, and thus adopt as part of their wardrobe, or at times, a way of communicating a non-verbal message.
YB: There’s this idea of the word ‘Clone’ imbedded in the brand name. I’d love to know a little bit more about this.
DG: People are obsessed with celebrity, gossip, and the worshipping of famous identities. Trends in clothing and appearance are pulled directly from the pages of Us Weekly and shows like Extra and duplicated endlessly. Shows like The Voice can garner more votes than presidential elections. People no longer experience their lives in live-action, preferring instead to do so through the lens of their iPhone camera, Instagram and Snapchat. Because of this, We are becoming Clones of popular culture. This is the backdrop that gives rise to Cloney.
YB: You began as an innovative rap group and then evolved into a multi-disciplinary brand that touches on many facets. Beyond clothing, what else is in store for Cloney?
DG: All forms of art are part of what we do, and thankfully due to that, we have several projects that will be rolled out in the near future.
YB: You have an incredible career as a dancer, an actor, a stylist. Do you think this has helped the Cloney brand lifestyle?
DG: Absolutely. Creating my own forms of art or being front row to some of the greatest artists ever known have left an indelible inspiration mark on me and everything I do.
YB: I love your designs. Can you tell me a little bit about how the Dan Tana and MR CHOW collaborations came about?
DG: Thank you. Both started as bootlegs out of my trunk. I wanted to make cool merch for places that already had a cool clientele. I wanted to "respectfully as possible" make some noise with the hoodies and ultimately have the opportunity to do it officially with the restaurant. Having lived in LA for over 20 years, there are certain institutions that have had stood the test of time…I just felt it would be cool to pay homage in my own way to them and it worked. As a brand that is also created and produced in LA, I liked the connectivity of that and as it turns out I wasn’t the only one. I’m very proud The "Dan Tana's ala Cloney" collection is now an official collab with the restaurant.