Written By: Travon Bracey
If I were to describe him as food, he would be that delightful country breakfast with warm honey biscuits on the side. It may be funny to portray him like that, but once you get into his world, you will get what I mean. Demariyon Futch, an exceptional Fashion Designer & Stylist formerly from Thomasville, Georgia, proves to the world that no matter where you come from, staying humble is key to the success that God has created for you. 2012 was the first year after graduating from college with a journalism degree when Futch was introduced to the entrepreneurial world as he started a t-shirt clothing line. Since then, Futch has expanded his creative techniques into his profound luxury menswear streetwear line, ELEVATION 12. Young Thug has worn his work, Avery Wilson, Lil Keed, Keke Palmer, and Tiffany Evans, to name a few.
I have been knowing Demariyon Futch since I was 19 years old. It's beautiful to see the growth of what he has grown his empire to be. I wanted to make our conversation an emotional yet memorable moment for us, being that Demariyon and I admire each other so much. At first, I was scared and nervous because I didn't know what to expect when it came to conversing with him. A few days before the interview, we talked about how I was going to interview him. Still, I decided to make it intimate in his sanctuary with his humbling assistant being a listening audience while Beyonce plays in the background the entire time of us talking.
The first question that I want to ask is about the inspiration behind the [new] collection. I know that’s like an instant question…
Nah! It’s not. When people ask me about inspiration, it becomes deep. The crazy part is when I start making stuff this wasn’t [originally] suppose to be a collection. Literally, I just start sewing stuff and then I started making and then one, [became] two, [then it became] three, and then after a week or two, it started to look like a collection. So, this is really not a collection. This like a little teaser and it turned out to be good.
What has been a lot of the inspiration that you have been seeking lately to design?
Lately, mhm! It’s so weird because I feel like I am behind. I don’t know how people view from the outside but I have stuff that I literally made or designed or sketched that’s probably like a year or years and years old and months old. So, my current inspiration, honestly, I don’t know, because the stuff that I am releasing, I already have made and already had it visioned, so I don’t know what my mood was back then. [This] is such a hard question for me. I guess it’s how I feel. One day I’ll wake up and I’ll be like, “Hey, I wanna make this” or “I wanna do something [with this inspiration or concept] based off of the color and the type of fabric” or the next day I’ll throw it in the closet. My inspiration always comes from how I feel. Now if you want to get technical, like a person or place, I like … obviously [Young] Thug, A$AP, the typicals, I like Alton Mason, I’m inspired by that. Places! I travel to New Orleans. There is something that erupted there that I just can’t explain. So, New Orleans! Definitely! And New York. Fashion week. I love that scene! Period!
I always say that the way you design is very timeless. Obviously, with me saying this, you have been giving me that.
I appreciate it. That’s why I can’t really explain it.
I feel like your pieces are pieces that you can continuously wear on an on-and-on given basis. You’ll be able to look at them 10 years later and be like “Wow! I actually designed that?” People will be timely gravitating onto your art.
It’s funny that you say that, There are these wide lead pants and they are my top seller after 4 years.
What’s your favorite piece you ever designed overall?
Oh my god! Von! Ohhhh! That’s such a hard question, Von. No one has ever asked me that before. Um! Maybe this one ...
It’ll probably have to be this one because of the pockets. Even I'm impressed with the details of this jacket because, in my eyes, I wasn’t supposed to be a designer. I am self-taught. For me, when I start doing certain things and it works, I won’t be feeling myself but I’m like “Ohhkay”. Just with the detailing alone, I just never taught I would be able to do something like that; never in a million years.
I like it because it makes me not want to carry a bag. I hate carrying a bag sometimes.
I have a bad habit of not putting pockets on my pants because I just feel like it just takes the shape and forming away. I hate pockets. That’s why I have a zipper in the back. You may get a pocket but other than that, we’re going to put pockets on a jacket or coat or just carry a bag because I really hate pockets on pants.
So, you know I know your life!
No! Stop saying that! (laughs). Seriously, I love you to death, Von!
One thing that we both have in common is that we both have journalism in our background. You have the degree. I don’t have that degree. But I have like maybe 5 years [it’s actually more] of experience just consistently doing journalism.
I’m going to cut you off right there. You know you’re better off than I am because of your experience. See, I just went to school for journalism and got the degree but when I would try to apply for jobs, they would mainly ask if I have any experience. So your experiences make up for my four-year degree without any experience because you got to have experienced no matter if you have a degree for it or not.
With me, it just happened when I was 15 years old and it ended up being my first job working for a local television network company and then from there, it was writing for AJC and then VOX and then a few other freelance gigs nationally and internationally, freelance or mainstream. Journalism what made me have an interested in fashion because when I was working for a teen newspaper, VOX ATL, I was given a photojournalist assignment for shoot a fall fashion streetwear campaign and after doing all of the researching and this guy introducing me to Polyvore and the former Style.com, that’s when I really started falling in love with fashion.
But my degree is in fashion.
Ohhhhh! Ok ok! Either way! I got you!
Yes! I have been in journalism longer but I also been working mainly in fashion my entire career. Would you ever go back into journalism?
I eventually would. The reason why I wanted to be part of that world was that I wanted to be a television personality. Like hosting 106 & Park, any type of fashion shows like Fashion Police, for example, or radio. So eventually maybe. Once this [clothing line] gets to where it needs to go, I would get back into it.
Another thing that we have familiar is is that we are both Georgia boys. You grew up in Thomasville and I was born and raised in Atlanta, although, my second home in Georgia is Eastman. That’s my father’s hometown which is not far from Thomasville. I have actually visited there a few times.
Look at you! Uh-huh! We here [eye-to-eye]!
(Laughs) Yes! So, how does growing up in a small town made you dream so big to where you are today?
Being from a small town was all I knew. My mother would be working. She was a single mom. But you see stuff on TV and wonder if I would ever see that or be that in person. I just always had the drive in me. This is so crazy. It’s weird that you are asking me these questions as I was just literally having a conversation the other day with one of my best friends. Overall, my mother was working all day and then on my father’s side, they were a little more privileged. When I traveled, it was with them. So it was the drive of seeing my mother working and not having access to everything and then getting a peak from my father’s side and collecting a lot of their own establishments make up the puzzles of how I became who I am.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur when you were much younger?
I don’t think so. I actually wanted to be an architect. I wanted to do something with computers and I was always drawing so I guess that influenced me wanting to be an architect which was around early middle school. After that era, that’s when I wanted to go into television production. I never thought in a million years that I would be self-employed.
For you to show interest in architecture, it goes right into being inspired to becoming a fashion designer because you’re still constructing.
It’s amazing you say that because you still have to have that eye … omg man, this is weird. [laughs] This is deep! During my first collection that was inspired by an African tribe, that collection with the shapes and designs gave me architectural inspiration. I guess you just confirmed it.
You’re welcome! It was one of my favorite collections by you, actually! Moving on, you then went to college and you became a NUPE (Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity). How long have you been committed to the fraternity?
I pledged in 2012 of my senior year. So, it’s been 7 years now.
How was your college experience?
I feel that my college experience is what made me. Being able to just get into college from just being from a small town and then you meet different people from all over the world opened me up to many things. I met people and had conversations with people and traveled with these people. I feel like I could handle it. Instead of thinking about the next level, I just thought about how I was going to bring it up 10 notches. College was the best part of my life, ever! The first year and a half were a struggle trying to transition because I wasn’t always a schoolboy but it became fun eventually. I’m actually the first to graduate from college from both sides of my family. That was phenomenal for me and my family.
That explains your huge support from your family because I see them on the comments and they just be rooting for you. The uncle, sister, brother, cousin, grandma, aunties…
[Laughs] That’s why I keep it like that on Facebook just for them so they can have that.
Who are some of your favorite fashion designers?
This is going to sound crazy but I don’t really have one, I’m most inspired by stylists and models. But designers… I love Givenchy. Ummm, it’s like being a rapper and you follow all rappers on your Instagram and some type of way, you’re going to become influenced. I like to try to be organic which is why I don’t really get into [mainstream] designers as often as I should. I literally just learned about Pyer Moss. To be honest, I really don’t have any. I'm influenced by people like you, Von and many other influencers in this industry; people that actually [matter to me]. I’m just going to leave it at that.
For this next question, it may be a little deep but what were some of the spiritual aspects [towards your personal] perspectives about yourself that you had to let go in order for you to grow as an individual?
Probably around a year or two ago, I realized that no matter what mistakes I make and things that I slack on, [my brand] is still going to happen. I made so many mistakes and it still continues to happen but this year I learned that my business would flourish if I don't work hard enough. If I work smaller, it’s not going to move. If I work bigger, it will become bigger. I focus on more of that then trying to balance a relationship and trying to sit and wait for certain times to come. Currently, I just make it happen. I felt that the mistakes that I made in the past have to do with not being the focus, so now I am more focus.
I can definitely relate to you on that because as an entrepreneur of 11 years plus, I have made so many mistakes. I was putting money in the wrong places that I felt would advance my business but instead, I just ended up losing so much of it. I also wasted a lot of time trying to do things that didn’t really matter or on projects that didn’t really connect with what I wanted to put out.
That’s how it happens. And people don’t understand how it feels to be in an entrepreneurial role until you become one. Because for years before I became one, I never thought about if I order something from somewhere like ASOS and I didn’t get it from them, naturally you’re just going to get your money back or you will eventually snap. When I became a company, I realized that even billionaire companies like Walmart are going through financial sufferings like bankruptcy and such. But people aren’t going to get that as a small business owner, we are literally doing everything from creating the idea, designing, marketing, and physically handling the product itself on top of personal life, relationships, family, friends, getting sick or anything.
Absolutely! You are the actual reason why I had so much desire to become self-employed.
I’m the reason?
You definitely are! You taught me to walk on faith! It took me a long time to get out of that fear of being self-employed! I just became completely self-employed this year. It took me to walk out of my last job to say that enough was enough that I really needed to build my empire and take control of my own employment. I had three chances of being self-employed and the first two didn’t work out so well due to lack of support or just losing out on a lot of money.
You fell and you fall but you get right back up.
Exactly. This time I feel like I am accomplishing it because I co-manage the store that my partner owns, I am handling things with my creative agency, a nigga can finally be more available to support my friends and their brands, I get to record more on my family podcast and such! And then focus on my office!
Oh, I didn’t know all of that. Look at you! Congrats! I don’t wanna backtrack on my story or nothing like that but I don’t wanna say that I prefer your story but at the same time, imagine knowing that you’re finally there how big it is going to become because you have learned all of these things. Of course, I took a walkout on faith but imagine blowing all up and then losing everything versus you, you had more experience. You failed more but you know the lessons if that makes sense to you. Don’t take those failures as anything because they are all experiences.
The first time I failed, I was about to give up. I remember us having a personal and deep conversation in our DMs …
One of the many personal conversations we have had.
Right! We almost felt like we were giving up and that was around the time I didn’t tell you that I was giving up but seeing you feeling like you were about to give up lead me to show you guidance on how to keep going. I thought that was such a beautiful moment with us because I told a lot of what I taught you and applied it to myself. Since I been self-employed, I have gone to a therapist and I just taught her how to balance my everyday life as an entrepreneur.
I need to do that.
Trust me, it works. It definitely works because if you don’t have anyone else to talk to, your therapist is there to listen to your problems and give you advice that may be difficult for others to understand or co-exist the thoughts and questions you’re looking to express and answer for your well being.
Oh my god! That’s deep! I may just need to get one.
I look at it this way. Sometimes, as entrepreneurs, we don’t have time to elope into ourselves because we’re too busy trying to take care of everything around us.
I may just need to do that because a lot of times I feel so alone. Most times, especially in Atlanta, I feel like a lot of people can’t relate to what it is like and it’s some dope people here that run their business but I feel like in my immediate circle, there’s no one who can really relate all the way. That would be good for me to just talk to someone and release all of those emotions.
Being an ambivert, I have to understand the social balance. My career requires me to be in front of everyone and to pull every bit of my extrovert personality but the things that go through my head is sometimes wanting to go away and elope with myself, staying at home and just spending quality fucking time with myself. I’m kinda like an iPhone. Once it gets to zero percent, you need time to let your phone charge before using it again and that’s how I would like to describe my social health.
Maybe that’s what I am. What is it called again? [laughs]
That’s definitely what I am because I have my moments of being out but like right now, I’m here at my house where I sit in and do work.
I love being at home.
I think it’s also because of age why I am becoming that way.
Which you are now in your 30s, early 30s!
Now I am. I’ll be 31 in March.
You still haven’t age physically.
I’m going to knock on wood.
But you know, black don’t crack.
Yes, with your skin over here glowing.
[Smiles] I am going to ask you another question. When it comes to your work, what is the one thing that you want people to take from it?
Freedom! It’s always been that. It’s freedom, especially for men. I feel like from being in the black community growing up, you couldn’t wear skinny jeans, you couldn’t wear pink, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. Express yourself and be free. Who created all of these rules? God didn’t create that. That’s not in the bible. Freedom for everyone.
People seem to forget when referencing fashion history, men created certain looks that were feminine or androgynous back in the 1600s or 1700s. In today’s society, we’re being judged but we are approaching the mindset of becoming more gender influent. More of androgyny in menswear is starting to showcase on the runway.
Baby, back in the day, they were doing it! Makeup and all!
Let’s go into that. What’s your favorite era in fashion?
70s. The wide legs are my thing right now. What is your favorite and why?
Mines are the 60s and 70s. The 60s because that’s when designers took initiative to pay attention to visual and contemporary artists and incorporate their designs of color and textures onto luxury garments that eventually started an artistic revolution throughout fashion and couture. The 70s because of black justice and culture.
You know more than me because I wasn’t supposed to be doing this.
I’m learning a lot from you.
Who would you say is your number one fan?
My number one fan?
Disinclude me. (laughs)
But, I hate saying fan.
Disinclude me because I’m more to you than that now.
True! My mother would be my number one fan then. I have other people who are supporters but my mother dies hard for me. Then there are these guys who have Instagram names after me. So, probably that. (laughs) Flyydotcom.
How did you come up with Flyydotcom?
I used to have a T-shirt brand called Certified Fly. Then people used to call me Fly Guy in college. I did this fashion show and the theme they had me do was the 80s and I was in charge of styling 30 male models. I didn’t think I could do it but murdered it. So that’s how I got the name.
This next question can be for both of us but how do you handle anxiety?
Let me just say you’re weird.
I feel like this entire talk is meant to be. These questions, Von! It’s funny that you are asking me this because my rapper friend, Tokyo Jetz, has a book coming out and she sent me the book. I just read the book this morning. In the book, she talks about dealing with anxiety and depression and while I was reading it, I was crying because I kept realizing that all of the things that she was mentioning were something that I could relate to. I didn’t recognize my anxiety until I read her book. It’s funny how you don’t know you have anxiety until you see it from someone else’s point of view.
I know that your biggest inspiration and supporter is your mother. I want to know how she has made such an impeccable remark on your successful journey and how has that affected the relationship with you and her?
Seeing my mother work a lot of providing has made a huge impact in my life. There was never nothing [my siblings and I] need that she didn’t give to us. We may not have gotten the things that we wanted but we definitely had what we needed. No disrespect to my dad but she will always be my mom and dad because she was there physically. Watching her provide taught me so much.
Are you the oldest or the youngest?
I’m the middle child.
Dang. We have a lot in common because I was also raised in a single mother home.
And see! That’s why we are [seeing eye-to-eye].
Now that you are in your 30s, what are some of the goals that you have in place for your brand?
Right now, I just want to expand. That’s my biggest thing. I know what I need to do to accomplish this. I know what I need to work on and such. So, right now, I just feel like the best thing for me to do is to expand. I just want everything to make sense. I don’t want to rush anything. I’m living in the moment and time, so I want to be able to focus on that. As cocky as that may sound, that is where my mind is.