You've seen it at the biggest concerts around the globe, along the beaches from coast to coast, and all over the internet.
Little Black Diamond is the trendsetting clothing line that is turning heads at music festivals from EDC to Burning Man, and it all started with one young woman and her dream.
Adrienne Shon, owner of Little Black Diamond, sat down with me to discuss what has made the brand so successful. Raw, real, and honest, Adrienne shared with me the true reasons of why LBD is different than other brands in the festival community, as well as her motivation to empower young women, and the juicy details about her new and improved line, LBD2.
Adrienne: It's sparkly, fun, sexy and vibrant. Definitely for someone who isn't afraid to be really bright and noticeable. It's a festival and swimwear line, and everything is made in the USA. We use a lot of nylon lycra, stretchy fabrics.
We don't really view ourselves as an EDM apparel company, even though perhaps that's how most people see us first. We're a fashion forward brand that's trying to put our own spin on the concepts in the festival market. The EDM and festival community is always going to be the central part of the people that we make things for, but I think what sets us apart is that traditional EDM shops tend to be a little later on the adoption curve than we are.
Also, our values make us different. We've donated thousands of dollars to charity [over $6000 last year alone]. We feel that giving back and participating in your world and your community is something that every business should be doing.... because we don't really exist in a vacuum; this is a society and we need to be helping each other out. So I think that's what sets us apart - that other brands are later on the adoption curve than we are, that we aren't just trying to be an EDM company, and that we do our part to be responsible. Everything is made in fair trade, locally here in San Diego.
One of my favorite ones last year focused on at-risk LGBT youth [stands for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender], so we donated money to the It Gets Better Project, which is an organization that provides a place of support for teens that are getting bullied. That's what the phrase "it gets better" is all about. We also donated thousands of dollars to the San Diego LGBT center.
We try to donate to a national or worldly organization, like how we have donated to Unicef, and then we also try to keep it local. We love San Diego! That's why all our stuff is made here and why we reinvest in our local community.
We try to pick things to donate money to that will make our customers feel like, "This makes sense to me. I can relate to this," or that they are a young person or may even be someone who is being bullied themselves. So it's important that it all kind of makes sense and that they know we are doing this for them.
Obviously people who attend festivals, definitely people who attend raves and shows. But honestly, we'll dress anyone. I have some shoots coming up with some older women; we have some styles coming out that are a bit more conservative but still sparkly and sexy that older people will also want to wear as well as young people.
We sell a lot of skimpy stuff, and I realize that. A lot of our origins come from exotic dance wear, and as you know, this is stuff that strippers wear. But that's the kind of stuff that there was a lot demand for at these raves and festivals, because number one, it gets sweltering out there, and number two, it's a place where anyone can literally wear whatever the fuck they want. If you want to wear something skimpy you can do that, if you want to wear pasties you can do that, and in some instances you could probably even be topless or naked - well, at least for the campout festivals [laughs]. I know I saw some boobs at Lightning in a Bottle and I've definitely seen some nude boobs at EDC.
However, it's always been really, really important to me to give context through our social media, and through blog posts, to let girls know that you should be doing this for you, because this is what you want to wear. It's because you feel fucking fabulous about it and because you're excited. Don't wear it just because you want attention from men or boys.
I always try to give context for what we do, and I think that's another thing that sets us apart, is that I try to be kind of emotionally responsible to our customers. I have a lot of rants on our Instagram about things that really bother me personally that I think people should be thinking about. Young people might not always have someone talking to them about these things. For instance, the hashtag #titsoutfortheboys pisses me off so much. Like that's fine, you can joke about it or whatever, but there are so many young people going to festivals now and they take it really seriously. They don't understand that it should just be a joke. It should be something like, #titsoutforyourself.
I also rant about people who are quick to judge others for the things that they wear, like, "it's too skimpy, it's too this, it's too that". You really need to practice doing things for yourself, which includes what you wear, what you want to do with your life, all of that.
Well, that's a difficult question because there's a big spectrum of the scene now.It's grown so much and that's what makes it so special and interesting, there's something for everyone.
For starters, Pasquale Rotella, founder of Insomniac Events, used to do this thing at EDC and other festivals where he would put up on the screen between DJ sets with messages like, "Alright, now go drink some water!" Things like that are really important.
I feel like the people putting on the bigger events have been taken over just so that companies can make money. Mat Zo said that you can pay $100,000 to headline at a festival. This is why my business philosophy is different. Money is just a means to an end. For us it's about, "How can I make the most amount of people happy and excited and share something with them that I have discovered through fashion and festivals and relating with people?"
People who are throwing these events should be more responsible. They need to be spreading better culture, they need to be teaching people about making smarter, healthier choices, like whether you're taking drugs or drinking or whatever, they need to own that and realize if people are coming over here and giving us all this money and dying, that's on us. We have the power to teach people how to make better choices and that's what I would change about the scene.
Yes, our new line is called LBD2. Last year was great but we feel like the things that we are offering could be even better quality, made with better fabrics. We added more sizes too; it was difficult because last year was our first official year and we didn't have enough money to make sizes for curvier girls or smaller petite girls, so that's been part of it. We have more sizes now, our construction is way, way, way better than before, and we think it's the best on the market. Additionally, all of our solid color fabrics have been upgraded, it's a lot more matte, and everything is fully lined and cool to wear on land or sea.
We have a lot of new bodysuits coming out that I can't wait to show everyone. It took a while because we're doing our best to perfect how it's fitting on everyone. The last thing I want is for someone to buy something that they're so excited about and put it on and be like "It doesn't fit!", which is what caused a lot of problems. Plus, we eliminated the front seam of every single thing that we sell, no more camel toe because fuck that! [laughs].
My inspiration comes from every single person I've met in the scene, like you, my friends, all the bat-shit crazy, loving, warm people, all the random as fuck people, all the people I don't even talk to, people who express themselves through clothing and fire and hoops, literally everyone in the scene is what inspires me to create these things. It's definitely through the people.
My vision is to not just be a festival apparel brand, it's to be an everyday brand with a range of items, from swimwear, skimpy things, more covered up things, everything that's inspired by festival culture that you could wear anytime. That's sort of my vision. We're definitely on our way, it seems so far away now, but I know where I want to be. I feel like I'm crawling up this mountain every day, inches at a time just trying to get there, but we're trying to do it right. I have really, really big dreams for our company.
I want people that maybe don't even go to festivals be introduced to the community through our clothing. I just want to make as many deep, real connections with random people new friends, other business people and customers. It's all about the connection you make with people.