Collaboration is a crucial part of Brain Dead's DNA. Founders Kyle Ng and Ed Davis work across category with brands like The North Face but also LA vegan food chain Burgerlords to create experiences and tell stories. The practice stems from Ng's background in film school and as a director.
"If it's The North Face," he told GP in 2021, which, like Dickies, is owned by VF Corp, "I think about its rich heritage, I think about climbing, what's missing in climbing, I think about interesting stories that we take, and I think about the actors — the characters — that could be in it... When you make a movie, you have to think about [a character’s] subtext, you think about their background."
With Dickies, a workwear brand three quarters of the way through its 100th anniversary year, Ng saw community and connectivity — and a platform for creativity.
Dickies x Brain Dead Paint Splatter Canvas Jacket Read More
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Dickies x Brain Dead Paint Splatter Canvas Painter's Cap Read More
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"Dickies was always an inspiration for us because of its universality. Any kid from any age could pick up a pair of Dickies and apply it to their culture whether it’s skating, music, or even art," Ng says. "It’s not just a product; it’s a canvas that cultures in many countries use in a different way. For us, it’s the perfect way to communicate our creativity to our fans."
But this isn't the beginning of their story. Fans of either Brain Dead or Dickies might recall 2021's Brain Dead Fabrications, a hardware store-like concept store for Dickies and Brain Dead merch. This collection borrows the same iconography, as well as the name, but deviates from plain old graphic tees and sweatshirts. Instead, you'll find bleached and paint splattered jackets and pants, hats of a similar design, lots of colorful matching sets and ringer shirts with DIY- (and alien-) inspired art.
"For us, Dickies is the ultimate staple item for someone’s life," Ng says. "We work, paint, skate hang and do everything in these clothes. With our store we customize, print, embroider and reimagine Dickies all the time. It is the ultimate partnership because the product is so timeless and utilitarian."