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They say secrets travel fast in Paris but when something is too good to keep to yourself, can you blame them? Take the recent fashion show from Cali-based menswear designer Doni Nahmias, for example, which had that coveted “if you know, you know” vibe, with guests fawning over his elevated surf and skate-inspired collection that sent leggy male models down the runway in everything from tousled knit sweaters, to silk shirts adorned with hand-painted images of Santa Barbara’s Butterfly Beach.
Nahmias called it “California grunge,” and it was the epitome of edgy, effortless cool.
This was Nahmias’ second season at Paris Fashion Week, and the show brought out everyone from Kodak Black to G-Eazy (the latter of whom performed at Nahmias’ official after-party a night later at the Bootsy Bellows pop-up, where surprise guest V from BTS had eagle-eyed ARMY scrolling through footage to try and spot their idol).
The show also marked the launch of a new collaboration between the designer and Bacardi, on the latest evolution of the rum brand’s “Music Liberates Music” event, which serves to promote and champion underrepresented voices in the music industry. The partnership launched with a four-piece capsule collection that debuted as part of Nahmias’ runway show, with a trucker hat, T-shirt, hoodie and jacket that combined the designer’s summery streetwear aesthetic with Bacardi’s “Caribbean flair.”
Each of the pieces — which will be available to purchase online at NAHMIAS.com/MLM — also comes with a unique QR code built into the garment, which will lead fans to a digital album of up-and-coming artists personally selected by Grammy-winning producer Boi-1da. Artists in this year’s campaign include Chicago rapper Ric Wilson, London-based MC BenjiFlow, and Berlin-based singer, songwriter and composer, K.ZIA.
For Nahmias, whose namesake brand has been seen on everyone from Jack Harlow to Jennifer Lopez, the new partnership represents a natural progression of his love for music and fashion, and a way for him to use his growing platform to spotlight new talent.
“I just saw this similarity between fashion and music and how we’re all just working as emerging artists and trying to ‘get there,'” he tells Rolling Stone. “I felt like the [Music Liberates Music] program related to me as an artist, because I could have used the help too, back in the day,” he continues. “So it connected with me and just felt right for me to uplift that young artist community today.”
In addition to connecting fashion fans with new artists, Bacardi says 100% of net profits from the sale of the pieces will directly benefit the roster of rising talent. Boi-1da will also work alongside each of the artists to co-produce brand new tracks that will be discoverable on Spotify come mid-July.
“I’ve been looking forward to this next iteration of Music Liberates Music and how we can bring more attention to rising artists that are the future of music in an unexpected way,” says the producer, who previously worked with Nahmias to soundtrack his fall/winter show in January. “This next class of Music Liberates Music artists have raw talent and passion, which I’ve seen first-hand in helping them to produce new tracks exclusive to the Nahnias drop. As someone who has been in the business of music-making for a long time, I’m excited for them to not only grow as artists, but to get the exposure they deserve.”
Both 1da and Nahmias say they hope the Bacardi program (and the so-called “wearable album“) can give deserving artists their big break, introducing them to new fans and hopefully to new opportunities.
“For a long time, I was working by myself, and it took a while before I had anyone give me a break,” Nahmias admits. “But I would say I got that [break] with [Amiri designer] Mike Amiri, who gave me an internship opportunity and had me just shadow him and follow in his footsteps. I learned a lot from him and I found that to be super helpful.”
1da similarly credits a certain A-list rapper for giving him his big break. “Drake was my first big stamp of approval ever,” he says, “which is crazy because we grew up working together and we both came out to get our first hit songs together. I would say he helped launch my career, and helped me feel confident about myself and as a producer for the first time.”
Nahmias and 1da say their partnership with Bacardi is proof that good work will never go unnoticed, and they encourage young artists to keep exploring their creativity. “The advice I give young artists is to be aware of what’s going on in music and try to stand out and just be yourself,” 1da says. “Some people are doing music for the wrong reasons — they want to be an artist to get rich or get attention. But if you really love the art, people will hear that.”
Nahmias echoes the sentiment: “Don’t give up and just be patient,” he says. “It’s the ones that give up that kind of fall off,” he explains, “but if you keep going, it’ll happen.”
“There were multiple times where I thought of quitting,” the designer admits, “and looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t. Just keep learning as much as you can, take everyone’s advice and keep pushing. And good things will happen for you.”