With the year ending some of us find that a lot of our resolutions from last winter are still unresolved. Others of us, like Lorenzo Diggins, find that we are right on course. What started solely as a men’s lifestyle blog has blossomed into an apparel company and artistic outreach. The Essential Man is not focused on pumping out hundreds of poorly made products but charting a course that can only lead to lasting success. We talk about what drives him as a consumer and how it influences his design philosophy. Lorenzo is now contributing to the culture he once only documented, the thinking man comes to life, putting plans into action.
What components of hip hop influence your designs?
I came from sneaker culture, camping out for sneakers. As a designer I still think like a shoe collector. I visit different stores, and websites that are related to shoes like www.shoesnatcher.com, which is I find a great website when it comes to shoes and its fashion sense. I don’t think matchy matchy, but more coordination. My pieces aim to fit into a wardrobe universally, I am a sneaker head that grew up. All my items are interchangeable.
Do you still collect?
Today I am more about quality over quantity, minimalism. Collecting like that,[back then] I was a hoarder.
I still buy sneakers but its different now, I am buying Jack Purcell’s X Comme des Garcon collobarative shoes, they are definitely minimal in design, not extravagant.
What did you get out of that life as a hoarder? Looking back why did you do it?
In all honesty it was immaturity, having money and nothing to do with it.If they had a shoe that came out, I would have to buy ALL the colors. Now all my money goes back into my company.
Having matured as a consumer, what types of things lead your purchasing decisions now?
So many people in urban culture want to name all the new stuff and all the expensive things when they talk about what’s fly. If you were to see me at a party I wouldn’t be able to blend in. People don’t know that each of the things I’d be wearing were pieces. Some people can’t justify paying a lot of money for things that aren’t logo driven. I buy for quality and lasting value.
Who do you think is doing things right at moment?
On a mainstream scale, J. Crew is one of the better ones in terms of mass production. There are definitely good elements to Ralph Lauren still, their basics. I’ve always been into smaller contemporary brands like, Engineer Garments, Our Legacy, for denim I only really we are RRL. I love APC, Marc by Marc Jacobs has great shirting.
Any body in LA that you like?
Garret Leight, his father is the founder of Oliver Peoples and he has started his own optical shop. I have a close affiliation with Milk Made in Venice. Gant Ruger is another brand that I used to really like but now they have gotten a lot bigger, more commercial.
Do you tend to let a brand go if they get too big?
I am one of those consumers that as soon as it [a brand ] gets everywhere I do kinda let it go. I’m not throwing any of my old stuff away though, I still have a Gant Ruger jean jacket that I wear twice a week. Classics never die, Converse still makes my favorite shoe.
So it’s not necessarily only because a brand excels that you might move on…
The thing for me is not also much that a company goes mainstream, but the aftermath. The people create a connotation, the moment too many rappers start referencing it I am going to move on. The reason being is they are not buying it because it is a quality product, they are buying it just because it is expensive.
Ok, so what revelations have you come to that got you to the next level?
Before I was just competing, now I consider myself to be pretty cool regardless of my clothes. The things I buy now I genuinely love. The,n it wasn’t necessarily because I liked the stuff, it was just because it was hot and I had to have it, or it matched some shoes. Going to parties and getting compliments for your clothes can go to your head, and that becomes part of your motivation.
Do you see yourself refining what you have now or is another version of your aesthetic on the horizon?
The only thing I might change is my shoes. I feel like the way I dress now, I can go run errands, change my shoes, and show up to a nice dinner. My style is pretty much here to stay.I don’t get dressed to be seen.
So what is next for you?
I had been working for other people for so long. This year I just went full time on The Essential Man so I wake up everyday to move closer to my dreams. When I made the decision to work for myself that’s when things started taking off. Aside from that I just picked up photography. I have my first official shoot coming up, but I’m not doing anything for the sake of doing it, it has to make sense.
Stop by The Essential Man to see what is new with Lorenzo this year, I’m sure he’s no slowing down any time soon.