Why Kanye can’t get enough of these twin designers
Twin brothers Dimietrus and Ricardo Jackson grew up in the Arlington Terrace Projects in Staten Island, surrounded by flashy drug dealers and guns.
But their grandmother had her own weapons to keep the boys on track: a needle and thread.
“Our grandmother, who is a seamstress, is the one who taught us how to sew,” says Ricardo, better known as half of the sizzling design duo Dee & Ricky. “To make it to this level in the game is a blessing.”
The 28-year-olds now count Kanye West, Beyoncé and Rihanna among their A-list fans, while their vibrant kicks are starring in the “Rise of Sneaker Culture” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, running from Friday through Oct. 4.
Their own rise began at age 15, when the inventive, skateboard-loving twins began crafting belts out of their vintage video games and Xbox controllers.
“We had to find a way to distinguish ourselves,” explains Ricky. “We were always into colorful pixels, Legos and toys. So we took our love of all things fun and colorful and incorporated it into our daily looks.”
Those original styles quickly turned them into street stars.
“We got stopped in the street on an everyday basis,” recalls Dee. “People would always want to purchase our looks. We would always wear something conversational, so word of mouth really started to spread.”
By 2007, Dee & Ricky’s custom belts, bow ties and headbands — fashioned out of Legos — made their debut on the Marc by Marc Jacobs runway. Soon after, West and Rihanna were sporting their heart-shaped, red Lego brooches around town. The Jacksons expanded into boldly unconventional jewelry, backpacks and shoes, including a sneaker collaboration with Pony.
“I just love sneakers — always have and always will,” says Dee. “You can really let people know who you are based on your style of sneaker.”
Their 2011 hit for Pony, the “Slam Dunk” black, felt board-style kicks, adorned with a customizable rainbow of mix ’n’ match Velcro letters and lined in cheetah print, will be featured in the Brooklyn Museum exhibit, alongside 150 iconic sneakers from the likes of Adidas, Converse, Reebok and Nike.
“I want people to be in awe when they leave the museum,” Ricky says. “I want people to know that our art is something different that they’ve never seen before — that is always the goal when it comes to art and design.”
The twins are already on to the next pair, working with a different (unnamed) sneaker company to create thermal chromatic kicks using heat-sensitive, color-changing fabric, and slide-and-release buckles. They’re also hoping to set up future fashion collaborations with Jean Paul Gaultier and Marcella.
Beyoncé, meanwhile, recently approached the twins with a custom request: a pair of jeans for daughter Blue Ivy. (The brothers are adding it to their to-do list.)
As for their other dream customer?
“I would love to see President Obama in one of our sneakers,” Ricky laughs. “Everyone will see him in a pair of our colorful kicks; it would be immense. Like, ‘Yo, did you see what Obama was wearing while he was walking the family dog?’”
Until then, the duo is focused on the launch later this year of their e-commerce site deeandricky.com, which will feature a range of fashions beyond their beloved sneakers.
“We will be selling rings, Lego brooches, hats, button-up shirts, book bags, as well as skateboards,” Ricky says, noting prices will range from $20 to $5,000. “We will always make sure that everyone can have a part of the Dee & Ricky formula.”