When I think festival fashion, I think of girls running around in their best hippie gear, adorned with flower crowns and metallic tattoos. However, there’s another side to the fashion scene currently. Our friends over at Damascus Apparel have been breaking the status quo of fashion with high-end, affordable pieces that not only have a story, but look sleek as well.

I’ve always been one to aim to the mysterious black in my closet, and if you are anything like me, you will love the designs coming from Damascus Apparel this year. We had an opportunity to sit down with Josh Lyon and Nate Khouli, the founders of Damascus Apparel, to talk about their company and the journey they took on their way to become the experts in dressing like Trap Gods.

Tell me more about Damascus Apparel.
Josh: Damascus has been around since 2009, but in October/November of 2013 we really rebranded ourselves. We were a really light-hearted San Diego brand. We decided to go into a different direction, and that’s why you see the black, monochrome pieces now.

How was Damascus Apparel different when you founded the company than now?
Josh: We started as a service based company. We did custom pieces for organizations, events and other groups nationwide.

I’ve noticed a lot of anime in your pieces. Who does the designs for your clothing?
Nate: We’re all nerds here, so I think it really comes from the environment we grew up in. When I design, I look to incorporate things from my/our background and childhood.

Do your designs represent anything? Do they have a story behind them?
Josh: Absolutely! Every symbol or element on our shirts has a story behind it.

Nate: Everything tells a story. We try to infuse the concept of “we are all connected” through a lot of our designs, and that’s why you see a lot of sacred geometry embedded in a lot of our stuff. And if you look closely enough in a lot of our pieces, we have small paragraphs that have to do with how we are all connected or how everyone has a strong power with their mind. By using your mind and tapping into that power, you control your reality. Our goal at Damascus is to attract people who have tapped into that power in their mind, and that’s why we say “Create with Us.” We try to develop an environment of creators at Damascus.

I’ve noticed the same logo on a lot of your pieces. What does that stand for?
Nate: Our current logo stands for “The people of silk and steel.” The reason why we say that is because Damascus is the longest continually occupied city in the world. And at one point, Damascus was the hub and center of the world, the city of silk and steel. And that’s why we say that here at Damascus Apparel, because you’re strong and resilient like steel, but you’re also soft and flexible like silk, and that’s how everybody is when they tap into their mind.

Josh: It’s important to notice that we haven’t always used the same logo. Our logo is dynamic and constantly changing.

How do you want people to feel when they see other’s who are wearing Damascus Apparel?
Josh: We are working to make people feel connected. We are actually working on pieces that will connect designs. So one piece of the design will connect to the design on a piece someone else may be wearing. We think this really brings a connection to people.

Nate: That’s really the goal. When you see someone wearing the same brand as you, you recognize how similar you both are. It takes away the awkwardness of having to get to know someone, because you feel like you guys already have the same beliefs and understanding. Instead of designing a clothing like that shows how cool you are or how much money you have, we wanted to create a clothing line that people can recognize who you can connect with and why they can connect with them.

What is currently your best selling piece?
Nate: We have a few. Right now the Augmented Reality piece is really doing well. We also feature masks that can be worn by men and women, which also double as tube tops for women.

Josh: Yeah, the Augmented Reality doing great. The shirt features the Augmented Reality Eye.

Nate: It’s important to know that the eye isn’t the Illuminati eye by any means. It’s the eye that represents augmented reality and virtual reality, which is why we have been infusing it in a lot of our pieces. And what is reality? It’s whatever you think it is in your mind.

What is Damascus Apparel’s biggest selling demographic?
Nate: The EDM culture, and more specifically bass music.

Tell us more about artists who have endorsed Damascus.
Nate: We’ve let everything happen very naturally. Recently, we have collaborated pieces with Datsik, Downlink, and even Lamborghini.

Where do you come up with your designs?
Nate: I do a majority of the art, and it’s very sporadic where I find my inspiration. One time I just grabbed a coloring book, scanned it in, and made alterations.

Josh: I’m more of the fit and feel guy, while he’s the artist guy. I’m into the cuts and fabrics; we work well together.

What journey do you think Damascus will take?
Josh: Well, we don’t have many plans, except to continue to push our community to try new things and connect in different and meaningful ways. We are looking forward to hosting a variety of exciting collaborations in the near and distant future. Be on the lookout!

Nate: We used to do a lot of service based things, and even created a line for Kaskade at one point. But looking forward, we are very community focused. It’s our goal to bring together a huge part of the EDM culture that is looking for a brand and culture that allows them to connect with others and share experiences.

What types of designs can we look forward to?
Josh: We have a lot of asymmetrical designs coming, and we plan to drop a brand new line in the next few months.

Every item in the Damascus Apparel closet will be a conversation starter at clubs, parties, or festivals. Be sure to check out the mystic over at www.damascusapparel.com/shop to cop your streetwear now.

Interview conducted by Chelsea King and Dana Wright