Hey everyone! I'm Grant, an LA based writer/artist and long time friend of GSS. Welcome to the start of a new blog series for the website that will be published in addition to the Love Letter every week. Get Some Sleep is so important to me, and I'm excited to share the brand's past, present, and future evolution with all of you here. We'll be going through the daily minutia and interesting projects that happen every day in the operation of the brand.
Today I have an interview with Daniel, the founder and creative lead of of GSS. We talk a lot about the brand, his creative process, and the realities of artistic ventures. I think this is a really interesting look into his ethos and general approach to making things. The full interview is as follows:
Can you talk a little bit about the inspiration and story behind the founding of Get Some Sleep?
“It wasn’t like a pre built concept in my head. I was just always making stuff. I like the idea of selling stuff online- just trying to make stuff and sell stuff. I remember in 2017, there were small brands, but there weren't a lot of brands that were like us where it was just one person.
So that idea wasn't even in my head to form a big brand or anything. It was just 2017 and I started a brand called Get Some Sleep. I like the name a lot.
So as far as inspiration, you know, there wasn't really any. I just like making stuff. Back then there wasn't a lot of big brands, just smaller people making things and putting them online. There was a lot of independent brands, but they weren’t really as vast as they are today.
My goal was always to make stuff. I didn't really have a tone or anything- or any model or blueprint set out. I made stuff that I felt was real. I've always liked stuff that's real.
I used to have Tumblr and I would be on it a lot. I would love finding sad music or finding really cool art. I love sharing that kind of stuff. I just always like being real. But I also like making stuff. So the realest I could be is just making stuff and creating the stuff that's in my mind.
That's why the domain is ‘I think I hate myself’. I was like 21 working a shitty job, you know? I didn't really have a lot going on for me. Being 21 is a very tumultuous time. So a lot of the start of GSS was about me: I'm 21, going through those radical changes in my life and being very external and yelling into the void.
And that's what started it.
And as far as the motivation to do it, it was never to just have or start a big brand. It was just to do it and post it online. There was never any goals or motives. It was just do it to do it because I felt like doing it.”
Sleep is known for its innovative cuts and incorporation of poetry and motifs. How do you come up with these unique design concepts and what role does your life experience play in your work?
“I only write stuff that's real to me and stuff I've felt. I don't know, a lot of my stuff is about yearning and longing because I felt like when I was young that's all I was really going through. That was just like a part of it that I really enjoyed, the putting text on shirts. That was like my favorite thing ever. It's always been.
But I just remember right around the time of like 22 or 23 years old, I got out of a four or five year long relationship. That definitely shaped a lot of my young adult life where I was just going through the motions of being a newly single 23 year old and yearning and longing and feeling like you're going to fucking die every single day. A lot of my young adult life was just trying to maneuver through that.
I just draw from life as far as design concepts. I feel like every designer or anyone who makes clothing is just inspired from real life. For instance, the Celestial cut and the balloon arms. Obviously I didn't invent balloon arms. That's a very popular garment. I remember there's a department store in Japan. Like every sweater there had just like big arms and drop shoulders and they were just so much more advanced than a champion hoodie. That was the it thing at the time in 2017.
The stuff that people will get at the malls there compared to the stuff you can get at the malls here, it's like night and day.
I guess that trip really opened my eyes to a lot of how it doesn't just have to be a printed blank or whatever. You consume it and then you reinterpret it and convert it into your own thing.
I just think that's the way I see it all. Every good creator steals stuff and reinterprets it and borrows pieces and stuff. And I don't know, I just think I've been doing that for a long time and I've created my own weird style through that.”
Could you share a specific example of a garment from the past many years that holds a special personal meaning to you and what's the story behind it?
“I could name so many.
I feel like every single garment, but if I had to pick one… The one I want to say is the tricolor. The people who are going to read this are not even going to remember this, but the OG’s will. The tricolor for me was everything because it's one of the first garments that I ever made that kind of changed my life.
I've had a few of those.
And I just remember, this is before I even knew what a tech pack was. I was just hobbling a bunch of images and shit into a big Photoshop file and sending it to a manufacturer and telling them how I wanted it. Instead of just drawing it all out, it was just a hodgepodge of things.
I don't think anyone at that time knew what they were doing besides just trying to come up with clothing. There wasn't even a direction. It was a vague direction. Color blocking was really big. I don't know why these German flag colors really stood out to me. Obviously, it was just me trying to interpret a Tommy Hilfiger jacket. It's crazy because at the time, I just remember that being a huge vintage piece that I felt like only I really knew. If you boil it down, it's just kind of the same as that jacket.
Every great artist reinterprets- not calling myself the greatest artist in the world or anything. It's just easier to show someone something familiar. That wasn't my best work ever.
But it definitely gave me the confidence to be like, oh shit, I can really do this and I can really sell and I can adjust the measurement on this thing that I didn't like. I can do whatever and have real control over something instead of just giving people a blank. I felt like it just kind of changed me as a person. I was like, okay, I can really take this as far as I want. And instead of seeing it as a blank or a hoodie, it's kind of a blank canvas that you can really turn it into whatever you want.
It's kind of scary too because whenever you go to that drawing board and you're like, what the hell do I want to give these people this time? It could just be something that they don't give a fuck about, but it doesn't matter because it's just what comes out that's in my head that I really feel like fucking with. Tricolors were the first piece that I've ever made that gave me that feeling of like, oh, I'm in control and people like the stuff I'm making.”
What does the creative process look like for you when you're designing a new collection or garment and do you follow a particular routine or ritual?
“I get this question pretty frequently and it's funny because I feel like every creative gets this question. It seems like there's this like idea that people have where you have to sit in front of your computer on a blank screen and something comes out. I don't know. I've never been like that.
I have this weird philosophy where I have this archive in my head of ideas I think would be good and ideas I want to explore. Then I'll just keep fleshing them out in my head. Eventually if I think it's good enough, I'll tech pack it out or even sketch it out. I live life- go to the shop and sew, or paint or like watch a movie.
I'll be watching a movie or I'll be in bed or I'll be on my phone. During that, I'll get like a little idea of like, "Oh, for that jacket, we should do do it this way." I don't know which part of my brain is talking to me. Then I'll make a little note.
And then sometimes I'll get into that like zone where I think the idea is so good that I just have to go and sketch it out right away. One of the recent items I did that with which comes to mind is this knit with ‘I used to be a bad person’ on it.
And I just remember being like, okay, I know how I want it to fit. I like this idea of these landscape knits that are like are super popular on the internet.
So I did a landscape knit.
And I just drew out the tech pack. I spent like maybe like an hour. I knew I wanted to do a sunset with like some hues. I was on the computer until 2AM. I just had that drive to get it finished. And I spent like an hour or two getting it done. I sent it to my manufacturer like, "Hey, can you do this?"
And it's just like that. Sometimes I get pushed to do it and it just comes but it's just it's not a very concrete process. I feel like nothing I ever do is has been concrete. It's just always been not necessarily impulsive on a whim, but it's a patient thing. It just takes time.
I don't try to rush anything ever.”
How do you maintain a balance between saying true to your artistic vision and meeting the expectations of your audience?
“That's a very interesting question because I, as I've gotten older, I've seen myself being less about like, ‘Oh, I'm not worried about the audience at all.’
Obviously the GSS supporters mean the world to me and they’re the most important thing. As I get older and I've done Get Some Sleep for years, I've become so confident in my style. It's okay if no one likes it, I don't care.
I like it.
I've just been become so confident in my style and the lack the need for external validation. It has turned me into a person that can just say ‘okay, I'm happy with this.’ My whole job is done as soon as I post things because it's like, okay, I made it- take it and run with it.
If you hate it, if you don't fuck with it… That's all I got.
I've grown older and I've realized how vast the space of Instagram and social media is… though as much as the brands are in power, the users really have a lot of autonomy.
If some Instagram follower doesn't like your thing, they can just go and check out a different brand that does whatever similar concepts of streetwear. And then they'll find a brand that aligns with them more.
You try to be authentic and you find authentic people and if people don't like you, they're gonna find something else because there's a million other brands. You don't have to buy anything, we've come to this world where it's so niche that you can make something and you'll find an audience or you won't and that's okay.
You know, it's just what it is. Like there's something for everyone and sometimes my stuff is not not for you and that's okay.”
Could you give a glimpse into your fashion week collection and what motifs or themes can we expect to see in your New York Fashion Week debut show?
“I have a name but I don't want to give it out just because I haven't married it yet but I'll marry it once I decide the text on it.
The people who told me to work on the show, were like, “dude, everyone who's gonna be there has never seen any of your work. This is your chance to really show what your brand is about.” Originally I was just gonna come in there thinking, “I got to make the most fucking weird avant-garde shit and like really try to prove myself as this designer or whatever.”
But then the show runner guy like really calmed me down and said, “dude, all you have to do is just showcase your brand as good as you can.”
So for the collection, I like the concept I'm going to do. I guess it's 13 looks. And all of them are one long poem. And it's all gonna be wide, short, balloon fit, Get Some Sleep stuff.
I think it's gonna be a really good, Get Some Sleep as this condensed version in a nine minute format.
And hopefully people like it.
And if not, oh well.”
And because it's a significant milestone in the fashion industry, how do you feel about your upcoming debut at such an event? On a personal level, like what does it mean to you?
“I didn't even think people were gonna like my stuff ever. I think coming back to the first question— I remember when I was when I was starting off early on one of like the superficial goals I had for myself… my rent was 500 bucks a month at my parents house.
And I was just like, I got to pay that.
And that's all I ever really cared about. So I was thinking, as long as I can pay that I am successful, I am successful beyond success.
So everything that's ever happened to me since then, like, I don't know, gaining thousands of followers or like making X amount of money, any sort of milestone has just been a cherry on top because I've always had just such low expectations for myself. Not because I didn't want to grind or anything, but it's because I'm just content with making stuff and I'm always gonna make stuff regardless of if people buy it or like it or not.
I feel like anything that comes forth, it's not that I'm not proud or not happy that it happened. For me, I'm like, what a crazy opportunity. I never thought I would ever get it. And it's cool that I got it. So I don't know, maybe that's a little lackluster.
Anything that happens or occurs to me, I'm extremely thankful for.
But I never expect to do anything big, you know (when I think about it) I just always think of like, Get Some Sleep is just me making something on my computer.
And that's always what it's been like, like from 2017 until now, it's just like, I'm always in my room just making stuff. And that's all it needs to be for me.
Everything else is just a cherry on top.”
Can you share a meaningful story or feedback from a customer that has deeply resonated with you or reinforce the importance of your work?
“Oh, man, that is like, that is such a loaded question.
It's just I have so many- one of the coolest things to me is just the fact that I have friends from the internet that I met through the brand. They are cool with me because of the stuff I make, because they also connect with it as well.
You're (Grant) an example of like someone I met online that we've just met liking clothes and shit, or making stuff.
I have Dylan who is another great example where we just are literally living and working together because the same passion for running like running Get Some Sleep.
And I don't know, I have like an army like that. The best part about Get Some Sleep is the people and the stories I get to tell. I remember when I helped Dylan drive back from the East Coast. It was just kind of weird that in every city or state someone was asking 'can we meet up or we can link up?' I got a tattoo from my friend Money in Tennessee that I’d never met before.
She was just a supporter and she was like, "Hey, pull up and get a tattoo." I've met some very wonderful people. I have infinite stories.
It just makes the world feel so small.”
What advice do you have for aspiring designers who are looking to make a mark in the fashion industry, especially those who wish to infuse personal and emotional elements into their work?
“I get a lot of people asking me for advice.
How do I grow a brand?
How do I get as big as you?
How do I become quote unquote successful?
Why do you want that? Why do you want to be big? My advice: just focus on your craft, focus on making your thing and fall in love with the process of it. Just keep pushing and just keep doing it every day.
And the world is unfair and it will never validate you.
For my entire life I've been making stuff. I've been drawing for years and nobody has gave a shit about anything I've ever done. And then, you know, I turned 21, I made Get Some Sleep and I don't know why it hit the nail on the head.
I know other brand owners who are much older than me who've done like multiple projects, for example, one of my friends- his current brand is like the third brand that he started and he's 30 something. Don't do it to get big or famous. You just do it because you want to. To stay consistent at something, to be doing it forever, you have to genuinely enjoy what you do.
And the thing about Get Some Sleep is that every day I wake up and I do Get Some Sleep. I love doing it. I have never not enjoyed it. I hate running a business. I hate doing all the business aspects, but I love creating I'm going to be creating till I die.
My ultimate advice for anyone doing anything is you got to really make sure you're in it for the right reasons. Because of my seven, eight years of doing this, I've known probably an uncountable- maybe thousands of brands that have started this. Of the thousand the brands, the only ones that can think of that are doing numbers or like are even are still alive are me, Steady Hands, Yitai and Resurgence.
Like we started at the same time and beyond us four, there was thousands trying. You know it's really possible that you're not going to make it in this.
I think the only reason why— not speaking for anyone else, but I just do it and I'm going to keep doing it whether I'm successful or not. Because I enjoy it!
My ultimate advice is just make sure you're in it for the right reasons. If you're in this to be rich or successful or clouted, there's a million infinitely easier ways to make money. There's a lot of easier ways to make money than clothes.
If you want to make a short crop hoodie and put your last name on it and call it a brand, you can do it, but I just don't see how you're passionate about that.
If you want to keep doing it, just do it. Don't let anyone tell you not to. Just keep going and don't worry about what anyone else thinks. Just keep hitting it. Make sure you're in it for the right reasons, I guess, because there's not a lot of money in clothes.
Not a lot of people will make it in this.
If you stop because you're not making any money, find something else to do. Find the thing that keeps you going.”
Some closing thoughts:
I met Daniel in 2017 through the internet at a time when GSS was just starting. The evolution of his work is something phenomenally interesting to me, as everyone we've known from this time has taken their entirely unique directions to creativity. GSS in particular has blossomed into a fantastic community of people and likeminded individuals that I cannot imagine living my life without. Daniel said, "I feel like nothing I ever do is has been concrete." While this is a beautiful depiction of his work, the concrete value of the GSS community is irrefutable. He said it best when describing meeting supporters all across the country. That's what makes GSS so special, its about all of us.
Thanks for reading and see you next week!