Photos by Ming Fai Chan
When you first walk into the Antler & Woods storefront on Atlantic Avenue and are greeted by a standing, stuffed black bear with a fish hanging from its mouth, moose antlers, and retro snow shoes on the wall, it’s a bit surprising to find urban street wear hanging from the clothing racks. A sea of flat bills, hoodies, B-R-O-O-K-L-Y-N adorned vinyl bomber jackets, a limited edition line of Knets warm up gear, sneakers, and velvet tracksuits litter the campy space, somehow creating the perfectly curated experience where customers can “catch a vibe” for the brand in mere seconds of arrival.
Knicknacks adorn rustic shelves and fill the space with eccentric nostalgia - sports paraphernalia, hunting trophies, fishing signs, and even an old 1950s motorcycle.
A bright blue crew neck sweatshirt sits on the display table where illustrations of colorful fruit - watermelon slices, pineapples, banana, orange, lemon, limes - dance around the design like a literal game of “I’m going on a picnic.”
It’s bright and beachy, it’s muted and earthy, it’s moody and urban…
Antler & Woods is an anomaly. The brand’s tagline, “where country roads and street culture collide” isn’t just an idea, it’s a concept brought to life with the store itself creating a physical hub to host said collision. And it totally works.
From design process (co-founder Michael Dinzebach designs everything himself by hand) to execution, everything about the brand and the store feeds on the principle of creative authenticity and momentum.
So in the spirit of collaboration - a general philosophy shared by MOXI and Antler & Woods, we wanted to showcase the brand by way of a creative partnership with a fellow local artist - New York based rapper Dylan St. John.
Dylan St. John, who’s recent single is in fact titled “Fashion,” is no stranger to the fashion and merchandising world where he spearheads his own line of self-designed custom merch called “No Currency For Happiness” and has recently partnered with other buzzy brands like Rip and Dip.
In a group effort to take collaboration beyond the digital page of a blog or instagram post, we met up for a day of constructive conversation, group styling and direction, and creative free flow.
The below is a snapshot of what Michael and Dylan unpacked while we shot the following editorial.
“When we opened this store, I wanted this to be a place where creative people can come in, hang out, and do some of their shit. Let’s talk, let’s get to know each other,” says Michael while standing behind his “checkout counter” as painted antlers loom over his head. “Which is why this is a bar, so we can have a party in here. Someone’s having an album release party? They can have it in here. Or an art show? You can have it in here.”
It’s about starting local and pushing out from there. The brand, the music, the art - it has to become part of the local community first and go out from there. At the end of the day, a brand and any brand partnerships have to be authentic to carry any kind of real weight.
“It’s a mutual respect, creativity type of thing,” says Dylan.
With a shared understanding of the creative process - from seeing something or hearing something in your head to making the final product come into reality - Michael and Dylan relate over the tendency to be a bit “psychotic” over the details. “It’s the worst part,” says Michael, “The best, worst part.”
Caught up in his own thought, Michael continues, “When is something good enough? Because you’re so tied to it. It’s a totally different world, but it’s the same … you understand what I’m saying, because you’ve done it.”
Dylan knows exactly what he’s talking about. “When I detach from 18 to 8 songs on an album it’s like letting go of a kid,” he replies empathetically.
“That’s what’s cool about musicians and artists and designers - every one of them understands the process,” says Michael.
But in the midst of their success and love for creating art, both Michael and Dylan have seen their share of adversity.
Michael, just three months ago got in a car accident leaving him with a broken vertebrae and a halo brace drilled into his skull … doctors said he had a 1 in 2 billion chance of survival.
Dylan, on the other hand, though maintaining his physical health, has experienced his dose of heartbreak.
“Damn, all this shit has happened to me, but … I just kept it moving, bounced back, and look back and know I’m better now for it,” says Dylan.
“You become bitter or you become better,” says Michael. “A lot of shit will go wrong, but some things will go right at some point, eventually. You just have to learn from it, and deal with it. It’s your choice.”
Dylan agrees, “Everything you can take as bad can turn to good if you build yourself up. I feel like manifestation is real.”
“The law of attraction,” says Michael in agreement. “I do think you can bring things to you if you put it out there.”
Dylan nods his head and repeats it back as if it’s a mantra, “Anything you put out there you will get back if you put in the work.”
“You want to support your friends. When you don’t do that you have such a narrow mind and plateau - everything gets stale. You have to constantly grow and support each other, and that’s what’s so fun about being a creative person,” says Michael. “I have zero competition with anybody, because if someone is doing well that means things are flowing and it means that business is good.”
Michael and Dylan start throwing around ideas for a joint pop-up shop or a listening party. “Let’s get drunk and listen to hip hop,” says Dylan.
Then he asks if he can pour himself some wine - there’s a bottle of rose and glasses on the counter by the register for the taking. “That’s what it’s here for,” says Michael.
“Let’s get threaded up, let’s do it,” replies Dylan.
Produced by Wallace Morgan
Photos by Ming Fai Chan
Directed and Styled by Michael Dinzebach, Dylan St. John, Ming Fai Chan, & Wallace Morgan