“I’ve always felt like I feel things deeper. I think a lot of times people just consider you sensitive. Maybe I am just sensitive. Truth is, artists get beat down constantly. But to create, you have to allow yourself to feel things that deep. The artist feels that shit deep in their souls, and creates because of that feeling. They create because they have to.” - Kota The Friend.
Vulnerability. Authenticity. These character traits are ones we advocate for and preach all the time. Be yourself with NO RESERVATIONS. It’s no secret as to why most of what we do is centered around an open invitation for everyone to be true to themselves. Doing so requires you to be bold. To be human. Artists, musicians, storytellers and entertainers have a way of turning their experiences into something shareable… something relatable that connects us and helps us to understand ourselves a little better. We at DSNY may not have the same artistic bones we admire in these individuals, but we figured out that the way we get to be close to the people and the world of art and entertainment is through collaboration, and by sharing the stories of the people who carry the talents we don’t. We can help perpetuate the messages we believe in. The messages we try to embody.
But here’s a hard truth: it can be hard as hell to take off our masks, push out all the voices in our heads, and give ourselves permission to live a publicly authentic, intentional life. Having a voice and making a choice to live that beautiful life we dream up in our heads is one of the most courageous things you can do. A lot of people won’t understand…. but here’s the thing… if you choose to let fear keep you from being your truest self, you’ll find yourself on an increasingly slippery slope. One our new friend, Kota The Friend, avoids at all costs.
“With everything I’ve made, I try to show who I am. It’s about being authentic in everything I do because why would you want to hide… you hide once and then you hide forever. If you lie once, you lie forever.”
Kota, a husband, father, independent musician, and the founder of the skate apparel brand, FLYTBYS, has committed himself to being intentional with everything he touches. He has an unrelenting desire to be authentic and uses his experiences to craft stories and connect with his listeners in a way that makes them feel like they’re sitting at the kitchen table - simply having a one-on-one conversation and sharing stories together. The way Kota talks to you makes you feel seen. It reminds you that you’re human.
“People think we’re so different… but we’re not. If something is real, people will connect to it. Even if you haven’t gone through it, because you’re human you understand the emotion behind certain experiences… love, pain, betrayal. We’re all connected in that way. We’re all flawed and learning how to be okay. I’m no different.”
F*ck yes. If you know us at all, we hope that you know we advocate for showing up as you are. Because like Kota said, we’re really not that different. We’re all people trying to do our best. Healthy identity is one of the pillars DSNY stands on. But Kota reminded us that there’s more to it… that showing up as you are doesn’t always mean everyone is going to know the whole you…
"Truth is, you may see me but you don’t know me. There’s so much more to you and I than what people see…But once in a while, if we’re lucky, we get a chance to know someone and be known deeper. True intimacy.”
But that’s the thing about intimacy… its not possible without vulnerability. Connection doesn’t happen without allowing yourself to be seen. And like Kota said: if we’re lucky and get a chance to know someone intimately, we begin to see the whole world differently.
“To the people who you get to know… and who get to know you… give them their flowers.”
It was from this concept that Kota’s new album Protea, dedicated to and written for his wife, was born. “The Protea is her favorite flower… this album is me giving her her favorite flower. And honestly, an album is such a small gift in comparison. She’s such a big part of my life. With this album I wanted to show a real relationship… with ups and downs and the beautiful parts, the bad parts… real conversations… She’s my best friend. I’m at peace around her. What more could I ask for?”
This is why we are so excited to collaborate with Kota on a capsule in tandem with the release of this record. He put words to how we feel and what we hope to do. To make true connection. Mess and all. To set aside our egos and to set the table for a better way of living. One that doesn’t mean inhibiting ourselves or the people in our lives. Like Kota, our mission is similar: Celebrating the ones we love and those who accept us as we are. That’s a theme we'll champion time and time again.
And so, it's our pleasure to introduce the DSNY x Kota collection made in collaboration with FLYTBYS. Each piece is intentionally created for and inspired by Protea, Kota's new album.
The Protea flower is often used as a symbol for a beauty that stands out, embracing uniqueness, diversity. No surprise that we wanted to embody that symbolism in the garments. These pieces are vibrant. Unique. They make a statement. Our bowling top is a deconstruction of the incredible album artwork for Protea.
“There’s a lot of symbolism between my wife and I featured in the album cover. My wife’s from the desert. From Dubai. The artwork shows a wedding in the desert. Two people getting away from it all. Coming together to become one and leaving everything behind in a hot air balloon. Hot air balloons are a thing in Dubai. I gave all the details to my designer and he put it together and made it make sense. And I picked yellow for the border because it is a happy color.”
"When it comes to sustainability, I’ll be honest, I don't know too much about it. But I know it is an issue. I wish that humans could come together and try to get a handle on the problems that the earth is facing," says Kota. "It makes me sad for our mother. It makes me sad for every living being. At times, it makes me feel hopeless. We're at the point where we aren't aware or conscious of what we're doing... and it seems like we can't do anything about it. But we still gotta try, right?"
Yes, we definitely do.
"I'm a big believer in just 'do your part'. We can't save the world by ourselves... but we can do our part. Don't yell at everyone else, but you know, teach when you can. Be happy with the fact that you can do something and you're doing it," Kota affirms.
And that, right there, is why DSNY exists: to do our part in chipping away at an unhealthy industry and making as much of an impact as we can through sustainable wares that center around inspiring stories. But there's more to our mission than sustainable wears. We want to help establish and create sustainable practices, and sustainable lives. Intentional lives. For the present and the future, we do our best, and our part, to leave something beautiful behind.
“My dad once said, ‘you’re a vessel.’ People need to hear these messages. I hope the music I make continues to talk people off ledges and help them get through life.”
The DSNY x Kota collection represents a collaboration that goes beyond fashion. It's a celebration of authenticity, connection, and sustainability. It's a testament to the power of art and music to bring people together, to inspire change, and to create a better world. Let us remember Kota's words: "We can't save the world by ourselves... but we can do our part." Embrace your individuality, cherish the connections you make, and strive to live intentionally. Do your part.
With love and intention,