Ghalid Mettioui’s label Dead Artist Society connects art and fashion. Artists create a piece honouring one of their idols who already passed away. The design is then transferred on a T-shirt and sold at an online store, where people can also learn more about the person behind the print. What started as a small idea by an Antwerp IT Manager will soon be represented at Fashion Week.
When I met up with Ghalid Mettioui to talk about Dead Artist Society (D.A.S for short), the interview quickly turned into him telling me every detail of his story, jumping from one thought to another up to a random person approaching him in the middle of the interview to compliment him on his Freddie Mercury Tee by D.A.S. “This happens all the time, it’s so weird”, Ghalid said after giving the man a high five and laughed. His company’s store only launched in July, yet things already worked out better than he ever imagined. But let’s allow the founder to tell the story himself.
It all started with Ghalid realising he wasn’t fully happy with his life.
“I was always fascinated by creativity and art since I was I little child. I didn’t even finish my high school but at age 18 I decided to just leave, take my backpack, visit the world and enjoy and discover. After seven years of working as a dancer, I came back and started a nine to five job, helpdesk in the IT. I thought I’m going to work myself up until a certain level of manager and when I get there I will feel good about myself. But when I finally achieved that position the feeling wasn’t there. I told to myself: ‘You’ve got money, a job, an own place you’ve got everything that you need, still you’re not happy’. And then I started looking into myself and I asked: ’What do you want to do for the rest of your life? What is your root passion?’ I started brainstorming and came to the idea of creating a platform for artists and bringing art to the streets in a non-conventional way. The fusion of street fashion and art.”
The idea of Dead Artist Society was born. Only the artists were missing.
“I found my first artist Abby Jo (@abbyjo_art) in Amsterdam. Her thing is Frida Kahlo and Amy Winehouse. She’s a Russian artist and you see that in the gold in her art. She was fascinated by the idea and was directly in. Next, I found Domien (@Studio_Stoutpoep). He’s an amazing guy, I love him so much. I contacted him via Instagram that’s how I do it with all my artists. There are so many artists that are in need of a platform. Here in Antwerp we are blessed to have a lot of good artists.”
At the beginning, the young start-up faced quite some difficulties, but equally had a lot of luck.
“Actually, everything has been a challenge in the beginning because everything has been new. I never designed, I never did something with fashion. I don’t have a degree in marketing. I don’t have a degree in anything. So, I had to learn myself on how to produce, which design to take, but also to not just follow trends. I’m a trend anarchist. I believe in taking a trend, breaking it up and making it your own thing. That’s much more fun.
Since I came with the idea everything has fallen into place organically. I needed a production company and found out that I have family in Turkey, who is already doing production for 25 years. I wanted to do a photoshoot for the website. I took the photos myself as I also work as a photographer. My sister does hair and makeup for television, so she also helped me out. And then I had a good friend of mine, a DJ, who brought friends to come and shoot.”
Next came: A launch party, the first big order for D.A.S by the Docklands Festival in Antwerp and a lot of promotion on social media. A total of six designs is now available in the online shop, including tributes to Freddie Mercury, Amy Winehouse or Frida Kahlo. And then Ghalid and his friends suddenly had an absurd idea.
“One evening me and my friends were having drinks and we were like ‘It would be crazy if we applied for the Fashion Week in Berlin’. So we went on the website and applied. There were so many questions, I don’t know how we even did it, but we gave them everything with a few stock photos from the first campaign. And then I had totally forgotten about it. Two months later, I suddenly received an email that said we were accepted. It was just a joke, should I do it? And then I said ‘Ok, I’m going to do it.’ So, we will be at the Seek fair where 60.000 store owners will be and we are going to present 32 pieces.”
This simple e-mail was a game changer for Ghalid, but also caused a lot of stress.
“This is crazy for somebody who just started and never worked in fashion and art! I never thought that would happen. Because Berlin – that’s really huge. We need to do that the right way. It’s a make it or break it moment. I’m nervous about it every day. And sometimes I’m thinking to myself: What the hell did you do, Ghalid? But then I remember that I’m not going to be happy in an office working for somebody else. I want my dream to come true and if it takes time and money so be it.”
Berlin will be the next milestone for Dead Artist Society. But if you ask Ghalid, for sure not the last one.
“My biggest wish for the company is to have a flagship store in Antwerp. And on the other hand, I would like to create the Young Artist Society. We want to give a platform for artists and help them. You would have a page like Facebook where you can upload all your art on and sell it by accepting bets. The extra thing you also get is that maybe you will be chosen to create clothing together with us. And in short it will be: YAS!”
Click here to visit the online store of Dead Artist Society.