The Decades are a headwear brand making their own way in the hat game. Their growing collection of strapbacks and snapbacks is grabbing lots of attention thanks to a constant focus on putting out gear that’s not the trend-of-the-minute. Founders Brooks and Matt are like time travelers, drawing inspiration from their childhood, pop culture, and eras passed, and re-interpreting those elements to create pieces that they love. We had the chance to chop it up with these Philadelphia dudes as they told us how they got started, how they come up with their unique designs, and what they’ve got up their sleeves next.
HEY DUDES, INTRODUCE YOURSELVES
Brooks Bell and Matt Faust, Co-owners and designers of The Decades
HOW DID THE DECADES COME TO BE?
Brooks: About 5am in a run down warehouse in 2011
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE THE DECADES BECAME WHAT IT IS TODAY?
Brooks: I owned a t-shirt company with some friends. We sold to a few major retailers and had a flagship store here in Philly. I also had a screen printing studio.
Matt: I went to school to learn Video/Film Production, and was thinking about opening a clothing boutique that carried Japanese menswear brands.
YOUR HEADWEAR IS DIFFERENT FROM A LOT OF BRANDS IN THE GAME, WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CREATE SUCH UNIQUE DESIGNS?
Brooks: We obviously draw from different time periods not just what’s popular now. For us, the biggest inspiration has been looking back on how we dressed as kids and looking forward to what we want to wear now.
Matt: Inspiration comes from a lot of places. A lot of our designs are inspired by history, but through kind of a pop culture lens. We are from the MTV/Cable TV generation, so we are basically the first generation of truly mass media, and I think this had a big influence on our designs. For example, our Ebbets Field collection had a very old school 1930’s baseball feel to them, and obviously we weren’t alive in the 30’s, but we were exposed to that iconography through mass media, and it had this effect, where it stuck with us. We’re taking things that were iconic to us personally, from birth until now, and use that as our building blocks many times.
WAS CREATING A BRAND LIKE THE DECADES ALWAYS BEEN THE GOAL?
Brooks: I’ve been interested in building a brand for a long time and its been a great experience learning what that actually means. We both had certain overlapping hopes when we started that we’ve seen become realities and some we are still building towards.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR CITY’S FASHION?
Matt: Philadelphia – I would say in some sense it’s a little more subdued than New York for instance. Philly is a working class, blue collar city, and I think it definitely reflects a little bit in people’s overall fashion sense.
HOW DO YOU GUYS KEEP THE DECADES ORIGINAL IN THE STREETWEAR GAME?
Brooks: Our style will always evolve and I’d prefer never to be locked into only being able create one style of item. The brand has a lot of different meanings to us individually and we’ve seen our customer base expand in different directions. We are going to continue to design what we like season to season and that inevitably means changing. As a brand I don’t think you can be overly concerned with what’s hot right now or what you’re best sellers have been. People are looking for integrity in a brand, and as the designers it’s most important to put out products you back.
Matt: I think remaining original is easy, as long as we continue to design things that speak to us personally. We’ve never really looked at what other brands are doing this season or that season, and said “ok, this is what’s trending, let’s do this”. As far as our look goes, people might be inclined to try to categorize our look one way or another, but with each drop you see a little bit more, you see different influences. Just because we did something in the past doesn’t mean that is all you can expect from us. It’s like time traveling, we visit different periods, different ideas, we might return to those places or we might not. A lot of what we do relates to time, even though it might not be readily apparent to the consumer. A decade is a measurement of time, and time is infinite, so there’s always new ground to cover, and old things to be rediscovered and reinterpreted. We have so many designs that haven’t even come out yet, and I think with our future releases the bigger picture will be more evident. What people have seen so far doesn’t encompass everything that The Decades represents.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE LOOKING TO START THEIR OWN HEADWEAR BRAND?
Matt: Stay in your lane haha.
Brooks: Best of luck.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT NEXT FROM THE DECADES?
Brooks: We will continue to push our own designs and try out new fabrics and techniques. We are also in the works of several different collabs that we are excited about that will help us expand our line.
Matt: We are just going to keep evolving and doing the things we want to do.
Matt and Brooks are busy dudes! On top of releasing their new Fall collection last week, and a Halloween pack including both hats and beanies, the guys also dropped lookbooks for both. Despite all this, they found the time to send us a tasty sampling of both the dope new fall gear and some pieces from the Halloween pack.
The Halloween pack (which is selling out fast so grab that shit NOW!) has some really dope fully-embroidered patches that are both funny and very well done. I should also point out that all their snapbacks have ‘the decades’ embroidered nice and big on the back and their ‘live through the decades’ slogan patch on the inside sweatband. These suckers are built to last with a thick bill and a reinforced crown so you can rock them at Halloween for the rest of your life.
Their running pack, at least that’s what we’re calling it, shows some real ingenuity and again, impressive craftsmanship. Both the ‘cross trainer‘ and ‘marathon‘ styles they sent us were off the charts. The mesh is super light but not cheap or flimsy, and the styling nails that classic fitness tech look from the 90s. The gear looks like re-purposed deadstock, but these guys are doing it all themselves with a modern fit and feel and we dig it. Check out some shots of the gear they sent us, and stay tuned for some giveaways! You can shop the whole collection now on The Decades webshop.
The Decades are a company that definitely lives up to their name. Their gear seems to fit easily into different styles from different eras, and yet it’s achieved as a nod and not a ripoff. Matt and Brooks have a unique vision for The Decades, and it’s one they’re doing a great job of executing. As Matt said in our interview “A decade is a measurement of time, and time is infinite, so there’s always new ground to cover, and old things to be rediscovered and reinterpreted”. We’re stoked to see what these dudes come up with next and where they ‘time travel’ to next.