Get to know the man behind the studs, Doug Abraham of BESS NYC. We talked to him about the start and transformation of the brand, the BESS @ UO Collection, and his favorite quote of all time (which you'll just have to figure out for yourself!).
I’m Doug Abraham of BESS NYC.
How did BESS get its start?
We started in 2000 as a jewelry and accessories brand.
Why did you decide to use your wife’s name, Bess, for the brand?
We were moving (for the 18th time) and Bess' name was written on old boxes: "Save for Bess."
How did you and your wife meet?
We met in our junior year of high school in PA.
Does working with your wife make things harder or easier?
I don’t know. We have kids so working is a break.
Have you always been interested in designing?
No, I went to undergrad art school and the Museum of Fine Arts school and fell into fashion by accident, if there really is such a thing.
What was the first thing you ever studded?
A denim jacket in 10th grade.
What made Bess transition from Jewelry to apparel?
When we moved the BESS NYC jewelry store to 292 Lafayette St. we started selling all different categories of goods in addition to jewelry: vintage furniture, vintage posters, zines, ephemera, and vintage clothes and T-shirts. We started mixing in vintage punk biker jackets and shredded Victorian dresses with the jewelry and objects we sold. We began using studs on vintage and then making clothes. Coming from a background working with metal there was an attraction to putting metal on stuff and messing around with the it—aging and patina-ing the studs. So really, the apparel grew out of our need to fill a shop and sell exciting products that commanded people’s attention.
Who are some of the musicians that have influenced your designs?
Joseph Beuys and Minor Threat
How does the collection for UO compare to your main line.
It's a similar vibe to what you would find in our shop. The UO collection is for summer, so you want to offer something to wear ASAP on the hot city streets. It’s fun to design stuff for girls to wear in the swelter.
Describe the collection you designed for Urban Outfitters.
Lots of zippers and studs, black and white, lightweight denim and jersey, and canvas studded sneakers.
What was your inspiration for the collection?
I was inspired by my summer after 8th grade. I found the punk store Zipperhead in Philadelphia where I got my first pair of black jeans. That was a fun summer.
What is your favorite piece in the collection?
The zip front cut-out mini dress.
What is your most material prized possession and why?
My Paul Evans cityscape bed for sleeping.
What are five things you'll be wearing this summer?
Leopard denim shorts, a suntan, a fanny pack, tube socks, and BESS NYC Decay White Corroded Steel Stud Chucks.
What's your favorite quote of all time?
"Ei, Großmutter, was hast du für große Ohren!"
"Daß ich dich besser hören kann."
"Ei, Großmutter, was hast du für große Augen!"
"Daß ich dich besser sehen kann."
"Ei, Großmutter, was hast du für große Hände"
"Daß ich dich besser packen kann."
"Aber, Großmutter, was hast du für ein entsetzlich großes Maul!"
"Daß ich dich besser fressen kann."