Designer Spotlight: Daniel Silverstein
“I had a great conversation with her. It was like ‘I finally found a person who just wants to make my vision happen!’ One of the great things about Julia is that we complement each other. She and I have really different interests. If she goes off and starts her own company one day, [I know] she doesn’t want to be a designer.”
Daniel’s partnership with Julia has allowed him to focus on the creative side of the business, while she “fills out the spreadsheets” and responds to email.
When asked who his typical customer is, Daniel is adamant. “I can’t even express to you how impossible it would be to pinpoint a customer. Everyone was always, ‘You’ve got to narrow down your customer,’ but it seemed impossible. Every single piece we make has an impact, and that speaks to a lot of people. We’ve always had a really wide range of shoppers. We do have a very urban customer, though. It’s really more of a vibe [than a demographic].”
Within that wide range, however, Daniel admits there is a segment that is perhaps more dominant than the others. “Style-wise, the people who get really into [our products] are really young,” he observes. “I think if you can capture a young and cool customer—regardless of your ethics and morals—you kind of did it. They all say the same thing: ‘This is dope.’ They see this eco product hanging in front of them, and they think it’s dope. That feels like a major win.”
As Daniel’s story unfolds, it’s clear he’s gotten more comfortable with allowing his principles to guide his business and design choices. As an example of this, he offers a story:
“When we created the long-sleeve raglan, my thought was, ‘Let’s just do the most basic shirt there is and focus on the mission … The rest will fall into place.’ People say: ‘I like it because you can see the story.’ They want people to know it’s made from fabric scraps by cool people in Brooklyn. They want people to ask them about it.”
I ask Daniel to tell me more about his new product ReRoll, yardage created from factory scraps, then sold to other brands—sometimes to the same companies that generated the scraps in the first place. “We’re selling to other designers, offering it as a service to other companies. The possibilities are endless on the design side of things. When we re-roll for other companies, their stuff doesn’t look anything like ours. I can protect it … and try to dominate this market, or I can try to help everyone do the right thing.”
I remark that ReRoll is such a great idea, it seems like something others are likely to try to copy. Daniel takes this question in stride, clearly having thought about it quite a lot.
“You can always worry that someone is going to steal your idea,” he observes, with the wisdom of someone much older. “But I’ve never run out of ideas. With ReRoll the exciting thing is that other brands can start to use it, which is helping us grow a better system and have a bigger impact.”
I inquire what other innovations and changes Daniel sees in his future and that of his company. As promised, he has lots of ideas.
“Probably further in the future, we’ll use more post-consumer materials … more on the custom level. Imagine if you could re-roll your two favorite cashmere sweaters and make [something new], re-invest in your own favorite things!”
He also plans to do more writing and teaching as a way of sharing what he’s learned with others in the industry. “I’m just one person; I can’t come up with all the ideas. So I’m asking myself, ‘What can I inspire in other designers?’”
Once again belying the fact that he’s only in his twenties, Daniel reflects on the bigger picture: “I just want to be one of those people who did my best, and I feel like even on really crappy days … I’m motivated by trying to make a change.”