SPOTLIGHT ON: Demetrius May and Mike Palermo of The Neighborhood Thieves
There’s a lot to love about The Neighborhood Thieves– from their cheeky brand identity to their clever attention to detail, we’re not ashamed to say that we trusted these Thieves from the moment we saw their inaugural collection. And after talking with creators Demetrius May and Mike Palermo, we think our initial impulse was correct. Perfectly merging day-to-day wearability with uncommon visual interest, Thieves has officially made our most-wanted list– and we expect to see a lot more impressive work from them in the coming months.
RYE & RIVET: Many of the items in the collection have little surprises built in—more specifically, these small, unexpected, embroidered phrases. What inspired this as a sort of signature detail?
DEMETRIUS MAY AND MIKE PALERMO: We’ve always been inspired by the narratives of particular brands and we love the notion of hidden details that only the wearer is aware of. We enjoy the idea of a secret you must be invited to experience. It’s also what gives our shirts that added nuance.
R&R: The Neighborhood Thieves has stated that it aims to fall somewhere at the crossroads of streetwear and workwear—what exactly was the backstory that you had in mind when you were designing this line?
DM AND MP: This is actually a natural direction for the Thieves, it’s who we are. There are cultural coalitions everywhere right now. People are digesting information at an extremely high rate these days. We are becoming more dynamically informed and are bonding to cultures and styles we may never have been exposed to even 5 years ago. At the core we found two things we are really passionate about and realized how well they fed off each other.
R&R: How do you feel that streetwear and workwear are interacting nowadays in general? Did this feel like an intuitive combination for you, or was it born more out of a desire to juxtapose two distinct aesthetics?
DM: We think the interaction of the two is great and was bound to happen. We are bombarded by it all and it’s what provokes the inevitable. As we walk through life these things cling to who we are and what we become; Thieves sits firmly at that intersection.
MP: I would say it was really intuitive. Demetrius had planted the seed a few years ago and the idea really stuck! Who’s to say you can’t bring the two worlds together to speak cohesively on one canvas. Today I think you are seeing pockets of it in different ways. Our version has simply been updated in a more “urban dandy” fashion.
R&R: Who’s an inspirational icon for you at the moment?
DM AND MP: I would say we were inspired in unconventional ways, and not by your typical fashion drivers. Motorcycle clubs like the Chosen Few, cultural moments during the 50’s and 60’s, real life Robin Hood characters like an Italian bandit during WWII named Salvatore Giuliano, Zoot Suiters from the 1940’s and simple every day people inspired us. Keep in mind hunger makes a thief of most men, especially if the opportunity presents itself.
R&R: The “thief” motif is echoed in several ways throughout the collection as well as being integral in the brand identity. Who’s your favorite thief? What is it about thieving that’s so appealing as a concept?
DM AND MP: For us the word is a bit more philosophical. It is a word that represents the duality of a person and its definition is based on perception. Whether it’s two young lovers sneaking moments together, a starving family stealing food to survive, or an artist collecting visuals as they move through life, we eventually fall victim to it. A visual kleptomaniac with incurable hunger for imagery is an unconscious “thief”. Picasso quoted “A good artist borrows and great artist steal”. It’s even been said he stole that quote from another artist.
R&R: Who is your ideal customer?
DM AND MP: Our ideal customer is any eclectic, well-dressed guy with an edge, who isn’t afraid to stand for his beliefs. “Give none take none”
R&R: What three words would you use to describe The Neighborhood Thieves?
DM & MP: Expressive, Progressive and Detailed.
R&R: What’s your drink of choice?
DM & MP: Jameson and ginger beer with a splash of bitters.
Thanks again to Mike and Demetrius for talking with us. For more on The Neighborhood Thieves, check them out here.