Back Issue__ Lemar and Dauley

May 04, 2009 | By
We talk to Kareem Blair about the upcoming Lemar and Dauley women's line.
By: Hana May

When Kareem Blair and Manhattan launched Lemar and Dauley in 2003, they quickly started gaining the recognition they needed to develop, even though the marketplace for streetwear was still quite small. Kareem says they were ‘filling an emotional void and visually expressing a collective consciousness that suddenly had the ability to express their interest or ideas through their clothing and footwear.’ The brand grew quickly and three years later they launched the women’s faction, Hiqee. Kareem says they offered females the opportunity to be involved in streetwear without looking to masculine or boyish. ‘It was instantly successful perhaps due to its association with L&D,’ he adds.

But then, even though Lemar and Dauley kept up with the streetwear calendar, things slowed down and the guys seemed to pull back from the industry a little. Hiqee disappeared. They had spent more money than they were making. They needed to regroup and take it back to how their roots--using the outlet to express themselves and make a living.

Now, Lemar and Dauley seems to be back at it, having just launched a new website, recently dropping their third shoe with DC, and most importantly (at least in our opinion) making women’s gear again (women’s Fall ‘09 will be their first collection and will be available online).

What happened to Hiqee? Why did you stop doing a women’s line?

Kareem: Unfortunately L&D was growing faster than we could accommodate at the time, so we were unequipped to handle the responsibilities that were involved with two developing companies. We were quickly facing a lot of obstacles in menswear that required greater detail and decision making, so we decided that moving forward with a women’s line would be a disadvantage for both L&D and Hiqee.

What made you decide to start designing for women again? Why now especially given the economy?

Kareem: The demand in our inboxes. [Laughs.] It wasn’t exactly a moment of discovery in our abilities as much as we learned females desired it. The current economy will not hurt the female launch as it was planned as a small launch to begin with. We had no intention of designing prom dresses, so it will be a natural extension of L&D. In fact it will actually assist with the factory minimums, so it’s a financial benefit in more ways than one.

What is the biggest difference for you between designing men’s and designing women’s?

Kareem: As of now, there is very little difference in designing for both men and women. We are only moving with designs that reflect the culture of L&D, so it is not a matter of separating the line into boys vs. girls. Its just L&D. The only difference really is fit.

Will the women's line be under Lemar and Dauley or Hiquee? Will there ever be another Hiqee?

Kareem: It will be under Lemar and Dauley. It will cater to the L&D Boy who has a girlfriend or sister and the girl who is tired of stealing her boyfriend or brother's sweatshirt. [Laughs.] As for Hiqee, that’s a subject we will ponder down the road.

What sort of look will women's Fall '09 have? What women inspired the line?

Kareem: The line will consist of tees, fleece sweatsuits and flannels. It will get filled out with accessories such as backpacks, socks and work-out duffles. I can’t really say we had any particular girl in mind, but Lauren London and Christina Milan fit the type. If we overlook their fame, they both have a ‘cute girl on college campus’ vibe.

Who are women you consulted with?

We didn’t, we just went on our instinct. We'll see if that was smart decision later this year. [Laughs.]

What can we expect after Fall '09? And where are you hoping to take the women's side of things?

Kareem: We will continue to build on its success determined by Fall ‘09. If everything goes as planned, it will be an extension of the L&D culture, regardless of whether it was designed for men or women. We will build on the interest of our audience.

What do you think the female streetwear customer is like today?

Kareem: Wow, that’s a tough question, because she is just as hard to determine as women naturally are. [Laughs.] I wouldn’t even attempt to categorize her. I’ll say that she is very perceptive, intelligent and ambitious to develop her own ideas in business. This has been the overall consensus between the women we have had the pleasure of knowing and the females who contact us online.

Top 3 female artists/musicians:

My partner Manhattan would have been better to answer this question as he has a more extensive knowledge of music, but ill take an attempt. In no particular order:

Anita Baker
Ella Fitzgerald
Honorable Mention: TLC (Crazysexycool Album)

Top 3 favorite female brands:

Marc by Marc Jacobs
Juicy Couture

Kareem: Not sure if most women would agree, since I don’t actually wear any of the brands listed, but I based the answers on a consistent brand message and each company knowing who their customer is.

Is there anyone you'd like to collaborate with as far as the women's line?

Kareem: Probably Betsey Johnson on a prom dress. [Laughs.]
What kind of aspects on the new site will be for the ladies?

Kareem: We will provide detailed access into the activities of the L&D Boys in business and sometimes personal, while providing great interviews and video segments with artist that women admire and appreciate. We are aiming to fill voids between boys and girls. There is too much mis-communication between us.

Where’s your heart at?

Kareem: Great question. Truthfully my heart is in a weird place because the desire came sooner than expected. My heart is in teaching. I feel so much information has been lost due to the amount of distractions that are present. I don’t wish to remove the distractions, because that is way beyond my power, [Laughs.] but I would like to begin to lead kids towards a better means in which to transfer their distractions into setting positive goals and ultimately having careers. When we started L&D it was a distraction to school, but along the way, the desire to be successful helped me place my goals, ideals and passion into the proper context. I would like to offer younger people a direction in how to begin to channel their energy.

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