The King Pin x American Dreaming Magazine
For those of you who don’t know, along with working for OWN Magazine, and managing The Black Nouveau, I also am the Contributing Fashion Editor with American Dreaming Magazine, which is based out of Philadelphia. American Dreaming approached me a few weeks ago about doing a feature on an artist that encompasses a lifestyle in their brand, and in the case of Taj Melendez, that lifestyle is undoubtedly “fresh”. He is the designer of an amazing accessory line and I was totally blown away by his unique and whimsical pieces, so I decided to feature him and his work for American Dreaming. Below is the editorial, which will launch this week in American Dreaming Magazine.
A.D- Thanks so much Taj for participating in this interview, we are so excited we could conduct this with you. So you’re an accessory designer based out of New York, how long have you been designing? How did it come about?
TAJ- I’ve been designing for about a year and a half now and it all came about through my sis. I’ve always been sketching and doing little things that capture the eye of many. My sister is the one that came up with the idea of making accessories out of beads and she felt that it was right for me and that it fit my personality. So I just put my own spin on things and made it my own.
A.D- Can you give us a little background history about yourself? Where are you from, what school did you attend, favorite color, you know that type of thing.
TAJ- Ummm I’m from New York… Brooklyn to be specific. Raised by a single mother who I love dearly and my wonderful older sister. I attended Lincoln High out in Coney Island and I hated it. I was always into art and really hot girls who paid me no mind. I also have a deep love for music and writing and I feel that I’ve been carried through the struggles and emotions through music. Being that I’m 18 years old and technically the only child my mother has, the pressure is really on me. Being an artist in NYC has given me the path that I need to roam and the steps that I need to take. It’s just all about decisions and peer pressure, especially in NYC. Apart of the “in-crowd” has given a lot of credit because that’s really where the creativity is and that’s what people have their eye on.
A.D- You have certainly been gaining a lot of steam with your accessory line. You design for both men and women correct? What would you say is your best piece that you‘ve designed?
TAJ- Yes that’s correct. I would have to say my best piece is the panda pin. People love those things and I think it would be disrespectful if I said it’s not my best piece haha
A.D- The press you have been getting is definitely an amazing accomplishment, with notable fashion figures such as Teyana Taylor, twin celebrity designers Coco & Breezy, and reality TV persona Natalie Nunn all donning some of your pieces, how has all this notoriety effected you?
TAJ- Of course they’re are some pros and cons to every situation. People see you have all this notoriety and they see that everything is all good. The question is “do I have what it takes to continue?” Through my career, this is what I would like to portray. I would like to come in 1st place and last, and when I mean last, I mean continue being in 1st place.
A.D- Lets talk about the design process a bit, walk us through how you make some of your pieces, what is the hardest part for you?
TAJ- It’s all basic elementary designing, that’s all. These are things you do when your little in art class or at home with an adult. I think that’s why it’s so eye-catching… because it’s apart of an apparel or your personality. The hardest part for me is just maintaining what I do. I’m sure I’m not the only one in the world doing this, but I’m known for doing it. I make special pieces for me and my customers. That’s why I don’t do custom pieces… because whatever I make, it’s special and exclusive.
A.D- Do you feel that you represent a certain lifestyle in the collections that you create? If so how do you describe it?, what type of person wears your pieces?
TAJ- For sure. I feel like I represent an upcoming lifestyle within NYC. I feel like I represent classic music. I feel like I represent money. I feel like I represent dedication. I feel like I represent a process. I feel like I represent everything.. bad or good. That’s what life is about and that’s what my collection is about which is everything I see and everything that’s on my mind.
A.D- Who or what inspires you? Did you always want to be a designer?
TAJ- I say this a lot and I feel that the struggle inspires me. It pushes me to work harder and it makes realize where I’m at and that I can lose it all in a minute. Also, all the underground art in NYC… it’s something special and it makes my city what it is… also me as a person.
A.D- What do you think the future of your brand will look like in 5 years time? Do you still see yourself designing just accessories? Maybe some clothing in the works?
TAJ- I’m sketching some stuff. I see my brand consisting of clothes that’s very underground, luxurious, and up-scale but edgy. Like Alfred Pennyworth meets The Joker…
Thank you so much Taj! It was so great to have you on board.
Designer: Taj Melendez
Photographer: Gabriel Antoine
Contributing Editor for American Dreaming Magazine: James Field
Special thanks to Gabriel Antoine (your amazing!) thanks to Kourtney, Shavonne at American Dreaming Magazine and of course Taj Melendez.