Meet Philip Post, the Brains Behind Dertbag

The 24-year-old Connecticut-based designer loved by Kanye

You’d be hard-pressed to find another 24-year-old with as much experience in fashion and design as Philip Post, the founder of Dertbag. His career began at the tender age of 13, a period where most middle schoolers are more concerned with acne than art. Since then, Post has had a successful career, receiving recognition from his teenage idols like Kanye West and Tyler, the Creator, participating in New York Fashion Week and earning accolades from publications like The Fader. Surely, if the teenage Post could meet the man that he is today, he would be proud.

Post has remained successful because he has never forsaken the childlike curiosity that imbues his creative works. While other designers have been quick to jump on trends and appeal to fads, Dertbag has always remained an extension of Post’s personality—an uncompromising project of pure unadulterated, youthful energy. Now, working out of his studio and atelier in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Post continues to experiment with the T-shirt as a canvas, reorienting clothing from culture to art.

ONE37pm: You started making womenswear last year. What was your inspiration behind it?

Philip Post: I’ve always liked seeing women wear men's clothing, but what got my womenswear line started was having a girlfriend and not wanting her only to be in boy clothes. I tailored the outfits to be the basics for girls. Going forward, I want styles for girls always to be included in my online store. I also thought the name “Gerl” was clever, changing the “i” to an “e,” so this expansion is another way for me to experiment.

Do you think there is a focus on women’s clothing for streetwear?

Post: There is a lot of wrong focus. I’m trying to bring my perspective, which I think is very soulful and tasteful, and inject it into the clothes. That's what is lacking most in clothing these days. In 2018, I dropped the first women's line, but I had the idea a few months prior and always wanted to do something with it. So when the name “Gerl” came to mind, I just ran with it.

You’ve seen the streetwear scene evolve over the past decade. What do you think of high-end brands riffing on streetwear style?

Post: I think it's exciting to be a designer born in ‘95 without traditional school experience. I create the clothes that I used to wear as a kid, but more refined. I wear the same stuff like jeans and black mock necks. But I take the best elements of each era and create for the present and future. If I find something I like it, I'll dive deep and research to see why I’m attracted to it. 

I think people need to understand that luxury is not always only the price tag. It's the quality, timeliness and comfortability of the piece—the most significant luxury is affordability. I’m in it for love and to make people feel good when they put on my clothes. I’m not a big fan of the term “streetwear.” I’m making experimental art by having the T-shirt act as a ready-made piece—a tool or medium. In art, I believe in not thinking and just reacting. The garment becomes a stream of consciousness of what I’m feeling at that exact time.

I’m in it for love and to make people feel good when they put on my clothes.

- Philip Post, Founder of Dertbag

You’ve had a long career in the game. How do you look back at your teenage years compared to where you are now?

Post: I try not to look at the past, I prefer to look at the future. I've had to learn and fail a lot to do what I’m doing now. People respect what I do because I continue to do it. It has been a learning experience, and it’s only after ten years that I have a sense of what I’m doing now—I’ve probably put 20,000 hours into it. These days I try to create quickly and understand the beauty in the mundane. When you're an artist, you take time to find a different perspective, and it’s on the street. I find inspiration and give the clothes soul through their proportion and palette. I’ve always had the vision and the eye for what I like and what works for me. If 14-year-old Phil met me now, I think he would be stoked with what I’ve done. Now, I’m content to just create better work after getting recognition. 

kanye dertbag 1
Kanye West wearing Dertbag. / Facebook/Dertbag
kanye dertbag 2

It’s only after ten years that I have a sense of what I’m doing now—I’ve probably put 20,000 hours into it.

- Philip Post, Founder of Dertbag

You just had a show in February in the historic Bridgeport Arcade Mall on Main Street. How do you approach each show?

Post: I don't try to plan for them; I make a bunch of work and then reflect on what I’ve done in the past year and bring people together to create a vibe. The shows are just me trying to give people a glimpse into my work. 

You were recently in Japan. How was that?

Post: It’s always a life-changing experience. I did a pop-up in Osaka and had a little line. The collection sold out in two days, and I got to meet fans who don't speak my language but wear my clothes. It's super flattering, especially in Japan, because that's where fashion thrives, and I’m fortunate people like my clothes. It’s a big compliment—the support inspires me to keep doing what I do, because they made me feel special over there.

Japan has always been a leader in fashion. Why do you think Japan is forward-thinking?

Post: They have an understanding of what’s good and bad and what’s cool and not cool. I believe clothes are about energy and not the graphic. The Dertbag brand is dignified compared to other T-shirts. It’s a “fuck you” to the luxury game of people just trying to make bread off it. 

That's why I think streetwear is so appealing right now because most clothing brands have lost their souls to maximize profits. 

Yeah, even streetwear is dead. People have figured out the formula of how to do it, man. So, fuck it, I’m making energy, it's not just streetwear. Anyone can print a shirt, but what I do is energy. Everything is made in the United States, and I’m not cutting corners. I also think people these days are making clothes because the graphic looks cool, but there's no substance behind them—there's no feeling of why they are making that. You need some reasoning behind whatever you make; there needs to be an underlying idea behind it. I think people want there to be a message behind their shirts rather than just a cool graphic. That’s why when you look at my work, you know there were thoughts behind it.

Yeah, even streetwear is dead. People have figured out the formula of how to do it, man. So, fuck it, I’m making energy, it's not just streetwear.

- Philip Post, Founder of Dertbag

What have been the challenges you've encountered while running Dertbag and starting it over ten years ago? What are some of your most significant difficulties? 

Post: I wouldn’t call them difficulties; they were all lessons and things I needed to learn. Keep going whenever it feels like things won’t work out. That's the real lesson. You always get nervous when designing or doing releases, but everything works out, and you need to take what your learning and be open to conversation. Keep your eye out for things to come your way because you are never in a situation that you can’t handle. Also, separate the business from the personal.

Does it get easier over time?

Post: These days, I do one full collection every month, whether it’s a complete drop or a category drop like Prototypes and the painted pieces. But when I do the fully realized group, I need to reflect on them for a couple of months. 

What forums were you into growing up?

Post: I liked this one called skateperception, which was a video and photo website for people who filmed skateboarding. It’s where I learned how to use Final Cut and After Effects. There were lots of tutorials on shutter speed and exposure on the forum, and when I was 12, that was my first love—making skateboarding videos. Then I started making clothing and giving them to people who skated. Dertbag was a skate company first, but I applied everything I learned from filming into my clothes. It made me unafraid to mess something up because sometimes that might be the breakthrough. 

Do you have any ambitions to teach?

Post: I think there will be a class on streetwear in the future, and I would love to teach it. I would do it justice—there are so many things people should learn when starting. After ten or 11 years, I finally feel comfortable. If you’ve liked my work these past few years, you will love where my new collection is going in 2020.

Did you like this article?
Thumbs Up
Thumbs Down