Interview with Dreamer’s Rule Clothing

20 Nov, 2012

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I sat down with the owners and brains behind the stylish, urban clothing brand Dreamer’s Rule Clothing in Oakland, California recently. I asked them about what inspires and motivates their brand and how they come up with the ideas for their fashions, only to find out that community is their biggest motivation. Owners, Amir Shabiz and Michael Ciprazo were both born and raised in Oakland, CA. Amir, the graphic designer and Michael, who generates many of the concepts for the brand, are inspired by the environment that surrounds them. At a young age they were admirers of Polo by Ralph Lauren, as well as the hip hop style that they watched as kids and teens on MTV. Today, Dreamer’s Rule Clothing works with Northbound Films and collaborates with local street artists and dancers, influences that are exemplified through their commercials, advertising and image as a whole. You can find Dreamer’s Rule Clothing at local downtown Oakland boutiques such as Nneka and Oakland Surf Club. Read on to find out more.

Dig In Magazine: What type of company is Dreamer’s Rule?

Amir Shabiz: Dreamer’s Rule is a premium urban street wear brand. It’s a company that is based off inspiration. It’s based off winning. It’s based off courage. It’s based off not being inside of a box.

Michael Ciprazo: It’s been something that we’ve been wanting to do for awhile. Just growing up and being into the scene. And as we got older and became adults we see that responsibilities need to be taken care of. And a 9 to 5 wasn’t for me. It was a stepping stone for the both of us. And we wanted to go ahead and pursue something that we love. Fashion.

DIM: What types of clothing do you design and sell?

AS/MC: T-shirts, zip-up hoodies, snapbacks, accessories, patches, [and] crewnecks.

Dreamers Rule Clothing - Dancer

Dreamers Rule Clothing - Dancer

DIM: How did you get into fashion?

MC: We were both born and raised in Oakland. And I’m a 1975 baby. So, while growing up, a lot of stuff happened during the 80s. We got introduced to hip hop. And [I] was like “Wow, this is cool!” It was something rebellious back then. MTV was slowly leaking out videos and was showing the culture. It was something I could relate to. They had the baggy jeans with the Tim boots. Hoodies. Baseball caps. We started picking it up. We started looking at labels. We were like “What’s that little horse guy right there? Oh, that’s Polo.” I started doing more research as I was growing up. And then got into the bright colors and color schemes. Just all of that put together.

AS: I like to be fly in my own way. [Growing up] I didn’t have much, so I had to take what I had and make it look dope. I’d take my sister’s clothes…rugbys and different things like that. On top of that, I was always an artist. I was always creative and into things that were visual. I had a buddy and we used to draw together. He went on to pursue his career at Academy of Art and he decided that he was going to do fashion. And when he decided that he was going to do fashion, he brought me along with him. I learned a lot by working with him. I’m doing a lot of hand painting and custom things….that’s pretty much how I got into it.

Dreamers Rule Clothing - Nneka Store

DIM: How many people are on the Dreamer’s Rule team?

AS: Well, we’re the brains. Design-wise, [it's] me, Mike and Safety. Safety’s a street artist who is also an illustrator. Mike has the concepts. I’m an illustrator, as well as a visual artist and graphic designer. We also work with photographers and Northbound Films. It’s basically people that are passionate about what they do, coming together. Basically pulling their different talents together.

DIM: Who are some of the artists that you work with?

MC: We deal with street artists. Mainly, Safety First and Dead Eyes. They’re part of this crew called Black Diamond Shining. You can find their new stuff all over the streets. Stickers. They do a bunch of stuff in galleries too. They’ve got their stuff on our fabric. They’re all around. And they’re pretty well known. They’re out and making noise.

Dreamers Rule Clothing - Safety First

DIM: Are they mainly local Oakland artists?

MC: Yes. From the Bay.

DIM: Where do you guys draw inspiration from?

AS: Everywhere! We could be talking about something…watching a video or people watching and an idea could come. We draw inspiration from each other as well.

MC: From our surroundings. In the Bay Area, you don’t have to have a car. Public transportation is beautiful! That’s my escapism. Before I start my day, I go outside everyday with my iPod and I zone out. I people watch. I walk [and] think up ideas. I have my iPhone and that’s like my time for myself. I capture that moment. I need that time, because it’s a time where the day has just started. And all of a sudden that day is gone and you’re on a schedule. You’ve got to be here or there. [My] ideas come from that.

AS: Music. I zone out to music…music that I make. Sounds create pictures for me. When I’m behind my desk being creative, I have to hear my music.

DIM: Where does the creative work get done?

MC: We don’t have a location. The location is wherever we’re at.

AS: It’s a process. Let’s say I get an idea.

MC: We’ll grab a napkin and start doodling.

AS: That’s the beginning. Then, [we] go to the drawing board. And then, design time. In design time, we edit it and tighten it up. Then, it’s off to the manufactures. It develops. It’s a process.

DIM: Who would you say is your largest customer base?

MC/AS: Ages 12 to 35.

AS: We have the street wear, the urban, skate, which is for the younger demographic. We have the premium street wear with different fabric…and urban premium for a more mature audience.

Dreamers Rule Clothing - Store Flyer

DIM: What stores carry the brand?

MC: Right now we are located at two boutiques in Oakland. One is Nneka and the other boutique is the Oakland Surf Club. Both are in downtown Oakland. We’re looking at other spots right now like a place in the City [San Francisco]. Small boutiques. We’re trying to stay away from the big retail stores.

DIM: Regarding expansion of the Dreamer’s Rule brand, what are your goals and plans for the future of the brand?

AS: There are three goals: Sales goal, production goal and a community goal. Production-wise we’re looking to become international to compete with timeless names like Ralph Lauren. Or not even compete, but [we want] to stay in the ranks of timeless brands. So the name won’t go anywhere. [We want to be] a timeless and household name. A brand you can trust and believe in. Quality of design. As for the community goal, Mike can answer that.

MC: The community backed up Dreamer’s Rule. I deal with a lot of youths. And the youths that I deal with are pretty well-known YouTube sensations. I started doing community events and we would sponsor them, [which] would create a big buzz. Like doing monthly dance events for a rec center…and doing it for free. And at the same time giving away t-shirts for free. Basically, just interacting with these kids. We end up sponsoring some of these youths.

AS: We want to inspire through our brand. A lot of times people put themselves in a box…I want to inspire people to do whatever they believe in.

MC: Some of these kids don’t know where to go. They don’t know these outlets [or resources]. They don’t know how to utilize it. Mainly, we want to create a hub where we can show them how to create a beat.

AS: I’m an entrepreneur. I love the spirit of entrepreneurialism. You start from an idea, talking about it, [and] then [going] into action. You start by doing it.

About the author

Cindy Maram

Cindy Maram is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dig In Magazine. She is an accredited film journalist for Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival and CAAMFest, as well as writer, vlogger, designer, digital, online & social media marketer. She possesses a B.A from UC Davis and a M.A. in Mass Communications + Popular Culture Studies emphasis in Film/Marketing/Writing from Cal State Fullerton.

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