Throughout my 8 years of working at BAPE NYC, I witnessed firsthand an insurmountable amount of fashion brands bubble up only to evaporate in thin air shortly thereafter. Although imagery and design are major factors for gaining attention, it mostly boils down to the potency of a label's underlying message, which has the ability to transform mere customers into devout followers. A$AP Rocky and A$AP Bari have conjured up the perfect formula to achieve such success with their VLONE clothing line.

The stylish A$AP duo's contemporary menswear brand is more than just conspicuous clothing, it's a way of life. "I'm trying to get VLONE in the dictionary. It's a lifestyle, so if you believe in a lifestyle, you believe in VLONE. It's something that's in you," said Bari during an interview earlier this year with Hong Kong streetwear brand and retailer Clot. He further elaborated his deep appreciation for living in the present moment: "I wake up and I don't plan what I want to wear or what I want to do today. I just do it, you know. I'm a day by day person."

For those who are a bit confused, the V in VLONE is actually an upside down 'A' made popular by the A$AP crew, which is often stylized as "ASVP," the cult clothing line's name itself standing for "live alone die alone." In a recent interview with Vogue, the VLONE neck tatted designer clarified the seemingly morbid mantra by proclaiming, "The meaning is not literal in the sense of 'Oh I have to be living alone''s to wear the brand and feel connected to something bigger." The upstart label hopes to serve as an inspiration for kids from hoods across the world to let them know that anything is possible.

VLONE made its first appearance on March 3rd, 2014 in Rocky's controversial music video for "Riot Rave," and during that particular time only offered hoodies and T-shirts. Not long after, the the brand officially debuted a more fleshed out collection of sportswear during Paris Fashion via pop-up shop. The line sold out within mere hours, proving that its presence with the youth was officially undeniable.

This April, the ready-to-wear line's United States launch took place in downtown Los Angeles at a spacious warehouse pop-up plastered with graffiti. The venue even contained a half pipe, which models used as a runway of sorts. Catering to an array of kids from the punk, skateboarding and hip-Hop scenes, the unorthodox show featured 15 looks consisting of bright camo, mix printed shorts, sweatpants and hoodies with the VLONE logo readily visible, as well as tees with thick orange block letters spelling "FRIENDS-" sprawled across the front. The event carried on as a 15-day pop-up shop offering an extremely limited run of VLONE apparel and a special collaborative collection with Virgil Abloh's OFF-WHITE.

The influential Harlem natives continued to spread VLONE's reach by having another pop-up at Milan's famed streetwear retailer, Slam Jam. The presentation wasn't as grand as the Downtown LA showing, but its religion-inspired displays certainly remained true to the brand's edgy, underground aesthetic. Bari's ambitious aim to take uptown New York's infectious culture around the world has been a smashing success thus far and, along with an exclusive business model, shows no signs of slowing down.

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Tags: vlone