The compassionate folks at dfrntpiegon, a new streetwear brand out of Portland, OR, recently reached out to me for a feature on the blog. I fell in love with the brand’s cool-kid aesthetic and wonderful mission, and I couldn’t wait to write up a piece about what the folks behind dfrntpiegon are doing for low-income, at-risk youth in their community.
I received the CRISIS shirt pictured below for review.
“The strange, crazy, ugly ones. The freedom-fighters. Those who know what it means to eat, sleep and breathe survival. Who aren’t defined by the hand they’ve been dealt. We are here to show that struggle made us better, not broken. We are here to prove that true beauty is imperfect. And when it comes to adversity? We don’t just rise above it, we take flight.” – manifesto, dfrntpiegon
Debuting their inaugural collection this past April 2017, dfrntpiegon is one of many trendy online streetwear retailers. What sets them apart is their mission for youth empowerment. Officially founded in 2016, the dfrntpiegon studio and streetwear label is a spinoff of a project launched by the Portland-based nonprofit New Avenues for Youth called INKubator. INKubator paired up local at-risk youth, many of whom were homeless, with designers and creatives in the area.
“Throughout the workshops, it became clear the youth had unbridled creative talent, and so dfrntpigeon streetwear line and creative studio was launched,” says Angela, a spokesperson for dfrntpiegon. “The name [for the project] comes from the negative perception people in urban areas commonly have of the pigeon as a street pest. Alternatively, the youth recognize the bird as a symbol of beauty and hidden potential buried under negative perceptions.”
dfrntpiegon’s first collection, called the identity collection, was conceptualized, designed, and launched by homeless and at-risk youth. As such, it’s a beautiful and raw reflection of identities: think bold graphics and striking colors abound. Each shirt sold directly benefits the kids and teenagers involved in the design process, helping them take steps toward economic independence.
dfrntpiegon’s label is a reminder of the creativity and passion inherent in our world’s youth—and the responsibility we have to foster that creativity and help it blossom into fruitful lives and careers. In a world where homeless and/or low-income youth, particularly people of color and LGBTQIA+ youth, are constantly marginalized and devalued, talking to organization that actually works to empower these children and teenagers was a breath of fresh air.
To find out more about dfrntpiegon, visit their website, dfrntpigeon.com.