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Turning Thrift Finds Into Custom Pants

DOPAMIINE is brand based out of Hudson Valley, New York that's turning thrift finds into some of the hardest custom pants on the market. We spoke with the founder Mason about his experience starting to make custom pants earlier this year to now collaborating with Brigade and having the likes of Kerwin Frost requesting his custom garments. In addition, we also spoke about the story behind some of his most iconic pieces, the creative process behind his work, and his plans to continue perfecting his craft while establishing Dopamiine as a staple within the fashion community.

Where are you from?

Mason: I’m from Hudson Valley, New York.

When did you start Dopamiine?

Mason: I think it was April 21st of this year when I put the first pair of pants on the internet. That’s when I took all my posts off of IG and changed it to a business.

What was the inspiration behind the name?

Mason: I think it was already my handle. I’m much happier now than I was back then, but when I started I was really depressed. I didn’t have any dopamine and the release that comes with it. It’s a relevant chemical in everyone’s life and making clothes was my outlet to get it. Even right now I’m making clothes to release dopamine. So I guess that’s it. I’m much happier with myself now that I’m doing what I want.

What made you want to start a clothing brand?

Mason: At first I didn’t really want to start a brand. I couldn’t tell you why I wanted to start making clothes, I just needed something to do because I was cooped up and not happy with where I was at. But I’m doing it now and I love it.

Were you always interested in fashion and art growing up?

Mason: Yeah I’ve always been doing all kinds of different stuff. I wasn’t into drawing but I used to do a lot of photography and video editing. There’s always been tons of art in my life, all my friends are artists.

How did you start making your first pair of pants?

Mason: Before I was making them by hand I was putting patches on jeans. Those are the pants I wear all the time since I have 5-6 pairs that I cycle through all week. I started doing that and then I wanted to start making pants from scratch in April.

How did you come up with the idea for the “You Have Been Banned From The Knitting Circle” pants?

Mason: It’s a take on the Death Grips sample “you’ve been banned from the channel.” I took that sample and put my own spin on it. I really couldn’t tell you what inspired it other than the initial thought to make crochet pants. If you look at my early posts I was trolling a lot, but I realized it was sick so now I’m into it.

Did you knit those yourself?

Mason: Hell no, everything I make is from thrift shops. I’ll take a blanket and make blanket pants, I’ll take a jacket and turn it into pants, or I’ll take drapes and turn them into pants. I have a wetsuit right now that I’m going to make into pants as well. I make pants out of a lot of weird things that really shouldn’t be pants.

Why did you take that approach to making your pants?

Mason: I’m wary of what supporting big fabric brands would do. I’m not the best person when it comes to being conscious about environmental stuff but I try to be. It’s better to get things that already exists versus getting something that’s brand new. I know a thrift store is more chill for the world than supporting some huge company.

What was the inspiration behind your “Shock Collar” pants?

Mason: Someone dm’d me and asked if I could make pants out of a Coogi sweater. I’m not really into doing customs unless it’s something crazy but at the time I didn’t really mind so he sent me an XXL Coogi sweater. It took me way too long to finish but I just sent them out today. Shoutout to Milo, I hope he likes them. Also, a store in Albany flagged me down on the street and gave me two new Coogi sweaters that I’m going to make pants with.

What does your creative process look like when creating a new pair of pants?

Mason: Sometimes I have an idea in mind and sometimes I just get right into it without any idea. When I did the Brigade collab I just took the hoodies and jackets that Aaron gave me and put my patterns over it and started cutting it up. I tried to cut it as clean as possible and sew it together in a way that could be pants. I made ghillie pants a long time ago too that were really spontaneous. But it really depends on each piece.

What appeals to you about designing pants versus other fashion garments?

Mason: I couldn’t tell you why I chose to start with pants. In general I’m trying to get good at making one piece and then I’m going to move on to something else. I try to make my pants look as clean as possible since I want the quality to be really nice. Once I master that I’ll move on to something new.

How did your recent collab with Brigade happen?

Mason: I remember a long time ago I had the idea to take old Brigade pieces that Aaron had and turn them into pants. He told me to wait and now we finally made it happen.

How many pieces did you guys release?

Mason: We planned to make between 3-5 pairs which was a liberal decision. I wanted to make more but I was only able to make four in time for the drop. I still have two white hoodies that I want to make into pants, but I wish I had been able to make more.

What made you want to work with Brigade in particular?

Mason: Aaron has been my boy since 2015. He’s been in my life for a long time and he gives me advice all the time. Brigade is also a sick ass brand, everything they’re doing is for the right reasons. They’re doing so many good things.

What makes you want to work with another brand or designer?

Mason: When a person inspires me I always want to work with them and learn about their creative process. But when it came to collabing with Aaron we had the idea because he had some pieces lying around that I could turn into pants so it was perfect.

Are there any other designers or brands you want to work with in the future?

Mason: I love the stuff that @craig_green is making. @forbiddenkn0wledge is amazing as well and @pisssy_pusssy is making full track suits that are crazy too. There’s plenty of people that I like.

How did you end up making pants for Kerwin Frost?

Mason: He posted something and I just commented in all caps, “LET ME GET YOU PANTS KERWIN.” A bunch of people liked it who follow me so he saw it and sent me a DM with a bunch of pictures of my pants saying that he loved them. I was so gassed, that dude is an icon.

What’s your favorite pair of pants you’ve made to date?

Mason: There’s a few that I like for different reasons but I really like the Marlboro bondage pants, those were sick. My favorite thing ever wasn’t even pants, it was the black gimp mask. I made that in the spur of the moment, it was crazy. Recently my pants are getting so much cleaner and the better I get at what I'm doing the more I like it.

What was the inspiration behind the black gimp mask?

Mason: @arca1000000 is a really revolutionary performer that hit me up to make some random stuff. I made them pants, but I love her so much as a person and I love her music so I made her a mask too and she really liked it. It was a beautiful moment, shoutout to Arca.

In addition to pants you’ve also experimented with facemasks. What made you want to make your “Zip” facemask?

Mason: At the time I was going through a dry spell with my creative juices. But my friends and I were chilling somewhere in the city and there was this garage sale popup on Canal street that we went to. At the popup they had this bag of nice double sided YKK zippers that I bought for $15. I was originally going to make something else but I decided to wrap it around itself and turned it into a mask.

Are there any other garments or accessories you want to experiment with in the future?

Mason: Oh yeah for sure, I want to make everything. I’m in love with puffer jackets and anything that’s puffy. I really like outerwear and jackets in general. I just like plain T-shirts too. I want to get nice at making regular T-shirts and even learn how to make socks or fabric. I want to know it all.

What should we expect to see next from Dopamiine?

Mason: Expect the same thing as I’m always trying to get better and bi-monthly drops. Whenever I get enough in my head where I can say it’s a drop I’ll release it. It’s been strange to have grown this much so far but it’s so sick. I’ve never had so much life direction.

What do you want Dopamiine to become?

Mason: It’s already bigger than I ever thought it would be but we’ll see where it goes. It’d be dope if Dopamiine could be something that’s around forever like Apple. That would be sick, but that’s what everyone wants. I’m just glad that I’m here making pants, this shit makes me happy.

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