For the first ever Underline Interview, we sat down with the founder and creator of streetwear brand Diagrams, Santiago Giraldo. Whilst only just getting off the ground, Diagrams has already made an impact on the startup community. Join us as we learn about the brand’s beginnings, inspirations and plans for the future.
So tell us, Diagrams, how and when did it all start?
It started at the end of 2013 with three of my closest friends. I had attempted to make another clothing line in the past but it didn’t work at all and now looking back at the designs I had at the time, I’m glad I didn’t release those, they were garbage. I started Diagrams in a time where I was into designing merch for local bands and making cover art for local artists. It took us a while to get started, we didn’t know anything about making t-shirts, so we went around our city looking for screen printers. We tried to screen print our own tees for a while but that is way harder than it looks. I fucked up the bathroom at my parents’ house with all the materials and I couldn’t keep it going with that method. After looking for some time we finally found a reliable screen printer who we still work with today. We’re still at the beginning of it all so I feel this interview could be part of the beginning chapter of the brand. We still have many ideas and concepts that we are slowly gaining the financial stability to make.
So what about the name, where does it come from?
Our name comes from the actual word “diagram” which means to represent something in a graphic form. From this meaning, I base all of our designs by putting my own favourite aspects of art into a ‘graphic form’ that could be worn.
When entering your website, ‘Long live the new flesh’ can be found on the screen, what’s its meaning? Is it your slogan?
‘Long Live The New Flesh’ isn’t our slogan for the brand as a whole, but more of a slogan for this season. The quote is from the 1983 film ‘Videodrome’. It’s based off a television show that contains graphic content. In the film, the main character’s girlfriend gets cast into this show and never returns, in which he tries to figure out exactly what happened. In his discovery, he figures out that he can actually enter this show through his own T.V. He sees that all the graphic violence is actually real and that’s where “Long Live The New Flesh” originates; he is in this new world in which he becomes an entity inside of his television and not real ‘flesh’ and bones. This film was actually a huge inspiration for this season aesthetically. The feeling of being trapped in a T.V. is where my pink glitched-out graphic originated. I really wanted to capture a piece of an underrated film and embody its theme on a tee.
So then what else inspires your brand and creative process? I’m very inspired by movies and music. My dream is to become a movie director one day. I grew up skateboarding and browsing the internet so a lot of my time was put into finding new music and watching movies. I got into mafia movies at an early age and I feel like that is a noticeable influence of this past season which was heavily influenced by Martin Scorsese’s work. In a way, it’s very difficult to pinpoint exactly where my inspirations come from because I am still developing the brand aesthetically and I am implementing themes that I have loved for years whether it be music films or even video game references.
Is there a particular audience you are targeting with your clothing?
I’m targeting myself and my friends. I don’t have an “ideal” model for what someone who wears diagrams would look like. I just want to make clothes that I can feel proud of and if you happen to like them also that’s awesome. It feels better when people like the things you make because they truly like your style rather than they fuck with it cause they’re just trying to ride a current wave.
Is there anyone or any brand that you look up to or try to model your business after?
My biggest inspirations have to be Kanye West, Martin Scorsese and David Lynch. In my opinion, they have always been true innovators in their respective way and have stayed true to their art form while pushing boundaries. As for brands that I look up to I would say I look up to Stray Rats. Being from South Florida I think they were one of the first streetwear brands to do their own thing down here. The owner Julian truly loves the themes that he explores with his tees and his music side projects that he has been working on. Overall, he’s a very inspiring dude.
Along with the releases of your clothing, you release a mix of music, what is the purpose of this and why do you do it?
I really try to give people insights on where I get my inspirations and as I said earlier I get them a lot from films and music so it’s cool to just give you guys a little more immersion into the clothes by adding a song or artist that inspired a tee or a song from the soundtrack of the film that inspired me. It’s a good way to amplify the whole aesthetic and create more immersion for the brand as a whole.
Your website can be described as dark and grungy but well developed, is this the type of aesthetic you want your clothes to have?
I don’t want to just be considered “dark” and “Grungy”. Some of the designs that we have in the coming seasons have a sort of comic relief. But, our roots do come from a darker style of art. I built the website myself so I’m planning on changing it up a bit each season to go along with the theme of the season.
Looking forward, what plans do you have for the future? New releases? Collaborations?
We are working on releasing a small collection at the end of July with some softer colours for the summer. Around September we are releasing something a big bigger for the fall with hoodies and a few extra items that I don’t want to announce yet till they’re a guarantee. As for collaborations, we don’t have any plans right now. I think we have to make ourselves better known and have our whole aesthetic figured out before collaborating with other brands.
It is certainly evident that Diagrams is more than just your typical streetwear brand. They haven’t just created a brand but more a lasting experience, when visiting their website you find yourself in awe of how wonderfully and creatively it’s been put together. Between the animated background and the unique style in which they’ve set up their store, Diagrams and Santiago Giraldo should be credited for the amount of effort that can be found beyond their clothing.
If you’re interested in purchasing any of Diagrams clothing, check out their website here.
Images courtesy of Diagram’s website.