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Interview: Spencer Lee Talks Maturing, Maintaining Individuality, Friends, Fashion & More

by on June 27, 2013
 

The last six months have been a busy half year for Spencer Lee. With the premiere of his fashion film, Run, and the release of his Lucky Tee, things have been rather promising for the young man. Finally enjoying a bit of serenity and downtime, I decided to sit down with Spencer to pick his brain on several topics. Click after the jump to read the interview and be treated to a surprise.

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Photos shot & edited by Christopher Levy

1. When you first came up with the idea of your brand, did you know that it would be heavily influenced by your culture and heritage?

Nah … I think I kind of knew when I was looking for something to do that no one’s ever done and to bring something that no one ever thought about covering before as far as fashion goes. For example when I brought my Dragon Button-Up into the scene like I figured that it was something I liked, something that I want to wear myself so why not bring it to be available for other people to wear. That’s when I kind of knew that I was going to run with it because nobody’s doing it right now, everyone is following that trill wave, so I decided that I would do me and see how people would react to it.” – Spencer

2. Okay so speaking on the trill wave, you’re one of the few young designers who doesn’t fall into the allure of trend pieces and why is that?

” Well I feel like as an artist–because you know I was an artist before a designer–I don’t like copying someone else’s ideas or hopping on trends because that thing(trends) is very one-sided and you can’t do a lot with that. I figured that I would let other people do it. It’s cool and I like some of the pieces that certain designers are coming out with but it’s not something I can dive into because I don’t like being stuck in a box and there’s a lot of limitations to that.” – Spencer

So for you, it’s basically more than what’s hot at the moment as you actually want to put your essence into your creations.

3. A lot of times, people tend to do things for their friends but you went above and beyond when you decided to put all of them on a t-shirt which came out really well. What was your thought process behind that?

” Well I wanted to make some t-shirts, printed t-shirts, so I was wondering what kind of artwork could I put on it. While I was doing the Lucky Tee, umm … I came across one of the images on my computer. So I said you know what all these friends have helped me on my journey so I decided to give back and do something for them. So you know, I put them on a shirt and it was a good photo.” – Spencer

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4. With a couple of releases under your belt, do you think it’s time to release a full-on collection? And if so, what would something of that nature include?

” I’m sticking with piece by piece releases for the rest of the year and after that I’m definitely going to work on a collection. It would mainly consist of cut and sew pieces and some printed tees that I want to do. I have a lot of ideas in the bank but it comes down to the budgeting. Piece by piece releases are just for the startup and all goes towards the big collection.” – Spencer

DSC_1382-Edit5. What are your thoughts on the current state of fashion?

” Honestly I feel like it’s thriving but there’s a lot of people that are attempting to enter the fashion world but they really have no place in it. I’m not trying to disrespect anyone’s brand and ambitions but not everyone can do it. Another thing that I’m a little on the fence about is the whole ‘Inspired’ wave. I say this because there’s a thin line between inspired and straight biting. Like people who have tees with other brands on em’ and selling them though it’s illegal. But you know it’s–the current state of fashion–is alive and well but only a select few are carrying it at the moment.” – Spencer

6. So at this point in your life, you’re getting ready for college, you’re going through a very interesting transition from teenage years to adulthood. Do you think that you may have to put the brand on standstill for a bit while you figure things out? Or what are your plans exactly?

” I’ve been thinking about that lately. It’ll slow down a little bit but since I’m going to be in New York, I’m not going to have to put on pause anything as I can still fulfill orders and etc. It’s just going to be a lot more work for me to balance college, possibly athletics and the brand. We’ll see how it goes but I’m not planning on putting it on pause.” – Spencer

7. Tell us about Chino. We see how close you were to him and how you made it a mission to keep his memory alive.

”  Chino was one of those dudes that I looked up to while growing up. He was the only other Asian guy in my town so he was the only that I could truly relate to. He kind of introduced me to fashion, sneakers and that other stuff, and because of that I probably would have never thought about making a clothing brand so I definitely have to credit him for that. His passing really hurt the whole town because he was cool with everyone. Him being a rapper, him and I always talked about working on stuff together such as me styling him for his music videos, and we were supposed to do all this stuff and then BANG! that was it … Gone. That really hit close to home so I had to do something because I felt that if I couldn’t work with him then I would have to pay homage. I didn’t want it to end like that.” – Spencer

8. Are there any possible collaborations on the horizon? Are you interested in that at all?

” I’m very selective when it comes to working with other people but the door is always open for collabs but currently I’m not doing any. In the future, definitely. I’ve talked to a couple people about it and I’m not going to say any names but we will see maybe in a couple of seasons.”  – Spencer

The rest of the interview featured a brief discussion about Spencer’s alter ego, Shotta Spence, and it was too hilarious in sound for me to transcribe. I wanted to give you guys the full essence of it. You can listen to it below.