Skip to content

Rebel rebel, Yuths!


Rebel rebel, Yuths!

Damier Johnson is fashion designer and artistic director behind the label REBEL YUTHS. He has shown two of his knitted masks at the exhibition Faceless part I and is now going to present a whole collection at the MQ Vienna Fashion Week.

Born in Nigeria, Africa, you moved to Italy at the early age of 18. Are you a Rebel Y(o)uth?

I am. I’ve always been a rebel - even when I was a kid. We were three kids. I was always the odd one out, doing things you shouldn’t do. I was very quiet, but I had this kind of character.

Rebel Yuths in his studio, Photo: Eva Ellersdorfer-Meissnerová

So what about your rebellion now -  it is still going on?

Well, today my rebellion is very simple. I try to do things that are not like the everyday things we know.

You can see that in my work. It’s quite different from kind of fashion someone studying at Saint Martin’s might create. I try to do something else, inspired by my lifestyle. I’m trying not to be boring.

Photo: Eva Ellersdorfer-Meissnerová

I think you’re doing quite well.


Why Milan?

Well, the place where I live is actually an hour from Milan. Torino is a very nice place for art and design. But I’m moving to Milan in October.

Because it’s known for ...

It’s known for its big fashion scene, yeah.

Do you realize that you just landed in a city that’s still in its baby shoes when it comes to fashion?

Of course I realize that. Anyway, what I appreciate a lot in Vienna is the art scene. It’s very big and I see people are still very connected to their roots, traditions, and values of art disciplines. In Italy you don’t find that in the north, but easily in the south, because in the south there’s this connection between people, origins, and different ways of life. In the north we have a very industrial lifestyle. In Milan everyone’s busy, everyone’s rushing to work, it’s all about money, less about cultural values.

And Italian people in the streets, are they inspiring?

I don’t see that much of a difference between Milan and Vienna. The fashion style in Milan is very classic, it’s not all that experimental. It’s not London, it’s not New York, it’s not, well, Paris. You only see eccentric styles during the Fashion Weekwhen everybody has more of an excuse to dress up.

Don’t be normal, don’t be normal!

Exactly, ha ha.












Your own stuff is cozy and casual. And very colorful.

It’s casual for one simple reason: When I create my designs I imagine myself as the client – I know it’s wrong promotionally or from the perspective of the market. Unlike most people I know who are into fashion design, who create collections that focus on a single target – the clients of a certain age and class they are going for – I think about myself when I work on my clothes. I ask myself “Will I wear that?”

And the use of colors, well, I use a lot of colors to make it happier and more fun. Life is always easy, everyday. In my colors there is a lot of personal expression. Imagine if my clothes were dark, my clothes would be very grotesque, especially with the masks.

We showed two of your knitted masks at the exhibition “Faceless part I.”  What does the mask mean to you?

I’m a person living in a society where you can have difficulties being who you want to be. That’s when the mask comes into play. When you wear that mask you don’t care anymore because nobody knows who you are and nobody recognizes you the day after. Masks today are very important. We can see that from the explanations and exhibits in the faceless exhibitions. Give a man a mask and he’ll show you who he is.

Photo: Eva Ellersdorfer-Meissnerová

MC Hammer, African textiles, shamanism, Prince of Bel Air, pop art, colors, wool and knitwear, huge sunglasses that look like they’re cut out of a piece of paper...

Yeah, yeah and yes! That’s what I do. When I create I don’t go just in one direction. Look at the pieces I just made for the Vienna Fashion Week. I always pick from different cultures. The glasses you saw probably were the yellow ones?


They’re inspired by Bart Simpson.

Quite right!

I’m a cartoon crazy person. I love using positive images like the huge pants from MC hammer. Anyway, I also take voodoo images because my origin is African. I take my inspiration from different angles.

Bogomir Doringer wearing a mask by Rebel Yuths, Photo: David Payr

Let’s stay with the voodoo for a second. On the picture of our monthly program a hen is sitting on a man’s head. Funnily enough it looks quite stylish. Can we wear anything as long as we wear it with confidence?

We can wear anything we want. You don’t have to think about what other people think. That’s the most important aspect of my creativity, or let’s call it fashion. I believe we shouldn’t wear things to impress other people. Clothing is a language, something to express yourself. Your clothes should be a sort of mirror.

What are you mirroring while talking to me?

This is a T-shirt I made for the next fashion show. Africans call them gods or voodoos, people from the West call them aliens or extraterrestrials. This image you see here is from John Carpenter's Village of the Damned. The kids are the aliens.

And the wonderful bracelets you’re wearing?

They’re a special gift from a Massai friend of mine.

I like the music we’re listening to. Dinah Washington is singing “I’ve got a man who is always late.” Maybe I just let you get back to work now. Thank you very much for your time.


REBEL YUTHS is Artist-in-Residence at quartier21/MQ. He's invited within the exhibition project #faceless and will present his collection on Wednesday, September 11th at MQ VIENNA FASHION WEEK 2013.

Interview: Margit Mössmer

Back to main navigation

Cookie Settings

This websites uses cookies to give you the best possible service. Detailed information can be found in our Terms of use and Data Protection Regulations.

Technically essential

Technically essential cookies used to ensure the basic functionality of the website.


Functional cookies used to ensure the proper performance of the website.


Target-oriented cookies used to improve user experience.