The Beastie Boys broke Billboard records and won Grammys during their music career, but it would be irresponsible to brush over the immense impact they had on mainstream fashion. Many a young man mirrored their personal style on some of the Beastie's memorable looks, whether it was the skateboard-cool of “So Whatcha Want” or workwear basics during the Ill Communication era. From their tattered-jean beginnings in the New York hardcore scene, all the way to the end of their run, the group’s style was constantly evolving. So it only stands to reason that when founding member Mike Diamond, a.k.a. Mike D., decided to enter the fashion game, it was to design items he had never worn before.
“Outside of a few button-downs and T-shirts, I haven’t kept much from those old Beastie Boys days,” says Diamond. “That’s the thing about personal fashion, the world is always evolving, and at the same time you’re becoming more mature. I’m still not very mature. I’d say I’m still pretty immature, but I operate in an adult world. So I wanted to make timeless pieces that I could grow into.”
He got the chance when he was asked to create a piece of clothing during a stint guest-editing Monster Children, a surfing magazine based out of Australia. Reaching out to revered fashion designer Clare Vivier through a mutual friend, the two collaborated on a leather card wallet, and a partnership was born. “There was something really enjoyable about working with someone who isn’t in the fashion industry per say, but still so creative,” says Vivier.
Since their first project together went so well, they decided to produce a new capsule collection, Mike D. x Clare V., including canvas totes, laptop sleeves, and an exclusive watch with Nixon. Special care was paid to keep the prices reasonable, with the most expensive item being a functional weekend bag at a reasonable $695. “The first piece that we really designed for this collection was the weekender bag, which Mike uses as an everyday bag,” Vivier says. “We wanted to make a grownup bag for him, but not an old man bag.”
Diamond admits his new carryall is undoubtedly a step above what he used to bring to the studio. “It’s a much better look than the days when I used to walk into sessions with my stuff in a paper Trader Joe’s bag,” he says. “I’ve really liked working on these pieces. It’s a lot like hip-hop, where you take the elements that are available, then change and retexture them to fit your own needs.”
There are no plans to stop here either; the two are already hard at work on a follow-up collection for the holiday season, to also be manufactured out of Vivier’s West Coast–based operation. “It has been a really rewarding process to have our factories in California,” she says. “It’s great to be able to see jobs created here.”
Despite his eye for design, Diamond is not hanging up his microphone anytime soon, with a new show debuting on Beats Radio and an upcoming performance at Panorama Festival. In the meantime, see some of the pieces below, and check out the entire new line here.