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The Dirt Label founder Christen Morris recalls early career hits and misses

Designer Christen Morris (Photo courtesy of Christen Morris)

Christen Morris founded his fashion brand The Dirt Label in 2007 to create clothing for “daring, independent, rebellious and tenacious” consumers.

The 37-year-old Detroit native is a graduate of Cass Technical High School and Wayne State University. His designs feature an array of streetwear, including T-shirts, hoodies, hats and more, many embossed with one of the brand’s signature bear logos.

As a designer, Morris says he believes individuals who wear The Dirt Label embody a vision of life with no boundaries, the ability to manipulate life as they see fit.

Rolling out spoke with Morris about the important business lessons he’s learned while running The Dirt Label.

When did you know you wanted to become a clothing designer? 

I felt like there was a void … in the marketplace in terms of clothing and retail in general. At the time, I was buying things just to buy things. Then it hit me one day that it would be dope if I started my own brand. One of the things about me is I learn things quickly. While I was at college,  I broke into the classroom to make my screens for screen printing and I started screen printing my own T-shirts. I had people asking. “Where’d you get that shirt from?” I began to start printing my own T-shirts and giving them away to build buzz before I started my first brand, Abstraction. That later turned into the brand I have now, The Dirt Label. 

What was your first creative position, what did you learn, and how did you apply that to The Dirt Label?

Being the owner you have to wear multiple hats. One of the things I learned quickly was that I was a marketing company first before I was a clothing brand. I think that’s one of the key fundamentals that a lot of brands and companies don’t understand. We are all jockeying for attention at the end of the day. 

Freshman mistakes are common when you are learning. What were some you made early on with the brand?

I think a lot of brands think they have the dopest stuff. They’ll put out 100 T-shirts and then the day they launch the product, they are sitting back wondering why nobody bought it. I had to learn to stop putting so much product on the market. 

How does social media play a role in marketing fashion and culture today?

Social media has been changing like crazy. One of the things you have to look at is understanding the demographic and how things are moving. We use our social media in a way that I don’t see too many brands doing. We comment back to customers, [but] a lot of brands have a disconnect with their consumer. 

Do you see any collaborations with other brands and your company in the future? 

We’re actually getting ready for one next week with McDonald’s.