On April Fool’s Day 2009, the menswear edition of Style.com published an article about a hot new design prodigy named Damian Finch, who wowed the fashion world by showing a full collection at the ripe young age of 12.
“It’s like, I can’t do much about my age,” Finch was quoted as saying. “I just like to make cool clothes. And if you use the word ‘tween,’ I’m going to puke.”
This was right around the time real-life prodigies - like 12-year-old fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson, 12-year-old food critic David Fishman and 14-year-old conservative pundit Jonathan Krohn - were being discovered and celebrated, so it was perhaps less surprising than it should have been that readers took the report at face value and demanded to know where they could buy Finch’s clothes.
It was a spoof.
As a parent, Standen said, he had conflicting feelings about children who are obsessed with fashion and, inspired by teenage celebrities and empowered by the Internet, are starting what could be called their careers at such an early age, especially in the fashion industry. But in the time since his parody appeared, at least half a dozen actual teenagers and tweens have started their own collections, some of them as young as 10.
And now for the original piece which is archived here…
For an up-and-coming designer, Damian Finch has a fairly typical bio: Based in New York. Initially made a name for himself in denim. Swears that—undeniable ambition aside—he’s just trying to make clothes that he “would want to wear.” Except, that is, for one not-so-minor detail: He’s just 12 years old. “It’s like, I can’t do much about my age,” the West Village resident said on a recent weekday afternoon, strolling down West 13th Street after school. “I just like to make cool clothes. And if you use the word ‘tween,’ I’m going to puke.” It’s a term we’ll happily avoid, because Finch’s first full collection, which was shown to a handful of buyers and editors last week and will hit stores in time for Fall ‘09, shows a remarkable level of maturity. (Besides, he’ll be 13 next week.)
“When I saw the presentation, I was kind of blown away by how self-assured the clothes were,” says Odin’s Eddy Chai, who bought several of Finch’s Fall pieces. “But then, I guess I was a lot more self-assured when I was his age.” Ryan Conder, who owns the Los Angeles men’s boutique South Willard, is also impressed. “This being L.A., I don’t end up buying a lot of tailored clothing, but I think Damian’s stuff is going to resonate with the West Coast guy,” he says. “To be honest, too many guys out here dress like they’re 12. Here’s a kid who just may be changing that notion from the inside.” L.A.-based stylist Ilaria Urbinati (who runs the Hollywood shop Confederacy, with Danny Masterson) has already had one style-conscious celeb—she won’t say who—request a Finch bomber jacket on photo shoots. “The line feels fresh because Finch has yet to be tainted the way the older designers have become,” she says. “His aesthetic is so pure.”
However you feel about his clothes—and we’ve got an exclusive slideshow below—it’s hard to deny that Finch is touching a nerve. Much like 12-year-old food critic David Fishman, or that 14-year-old conservative pundit Jonathan Krohn, what he’s been able to achieve is equal parts impressive and—let’s face it—also a little creepy. Although it was refreshing to learn that Finch had never heard of either of those well-publicized prodigies. “I don’t know—it sounds like those kids are, like, trying to be adults,” he says. “I’m trying to be a fashion designer.”
If you’re wondering about the name, my guess is it has something to do with this guy.