It's fitting that Chet and Betts DeHart's favorite film is the French classic The Red Balloon. Director Albert Lamorisse's simplistic coming of age tale about a young boy (Lamorisse's real-life son Pascal) being followed through the streets of Paris by, you guessed it, a red balloon, was a revelation when it was released in 1956.
The 18-year-old DeHart twins, the prodigious minds behind burgeoning streetwear brand Lucid Footwear and Clothing take pride in their product, which they say shares visionary traits with Lamormisse's minimalistic aesthetic. With designs that are low on graphics, the Lucid FC brand is a combination of seemingly mismatched parts: New England prep meets the gritty, big city graffiti artist — or his Southern, dope-boy cousin with French fashion leanings.
It sounds messy, but even big fashion names like Esquire seem to find beauty in Lucid FC's hodgepodge of styles all molded into one. "With its spare designs, prep and outdoor influences, and elegant, restrained logo, Lucid FC reminds us of PLAY Comme des Garçons if it were designed by teenage Eagle Scouts," wrote the magazine's Style Editor, Andrew Luecke, in his interview with the twins after Lucid FC made its way into VFiles and a pop-up shop at the Good Company, two of New York City's most prominent streetwear retailers.
Next month, the DeHart twins are moving to NYC to attend the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (LIM) with their partner, Jonah Levine, to improve their business savvy and find a designer. Just like that, one of ATL's newest and seemingly most promising street-style brands is looking to grow beyond the city walls before it really blows up locally. "The older crowd is really good to us here in Atlanta, but New York is where designers live," says Betts, the more business-minded of the two.
According to the twins, aside from NYC being a fashion capital, it's also where 85 percent of their sales are generated. Hell, Lucid FC's biggest media backer has been the NY-based network Mass Appeal, which helped produce the twins going-away party in Atlanta last weekend. At home the DeHarts are hardly recognized as budding style entrepreneurs. Instead they're sometimes confused for the ATL Twins when they make trips over to Little Five Points. Their slim, tall frames, and boyish good looks have garnered modeling attention both good — M.I.A. reached out for their services in her "Double Trouble" video — and unwanted — a California man offered them $10,000 to appear in his twin-themed porno.
The youngest of three children, the DeHarts grew up in Buckhead, but immediately found that their love of Nike, FILA, graffiti, and trips to Walter's didn't vibe well with the upper-middle class community where "everyone wore Abercrombie & Fitch."
"We weren't the typical Buckhead family," Betts says of the brothers' childhood. They received "negative comments" and blank stares, and were referred to as "ghetto" because of their love of urban culture. "I guess it helped us become more individual," Betts continues, saying other kids had parents who all dressed them the same. "I don't mean to be mean, but it felt like no one in Buckhead was really an individual."
Both Betts and Chet were born with severe learning disabilities and graduated from Ben Franklin Academy, but Chet jokes that they have "been to every school but Westminster and Lovett."
Originally, Lucid FC was called TSB, which stood for the Sole Brothers. The name comes from a popular web series the twins had on YouTube in middle school on which they'd break down new sneaker releases and offer their take on random style trends. They garnered enough views to have Google send them a $300 check in the mail every month.
TSB evolved into Lucid FC in late 2010. At the tender age of 14, the DeHarts went from making custom sneakers — Grateful Dead skulls on Converse for example — to becoming young businessmen who were encouraged by their parents to pursue whatever made them happy. They never, however, asked for their parents' money in making it happen. Most kids their age were chasing girls or dealing with teen angst. But Chet and Betts were becoming fashion students.
"They had a passion for it. They were really curious about it, constantly asking questions," says Farshad Arshid, owner of both Standard and G-Star boutiques, who considers himself a mentor to Atlanta's young fashion upstarts. Arshid's seen young aspiring fashionistos come and go in his 11 years running a streetwear boutique in ATL, but he was immediately drawn to the DeHarts when their mother first brought them to Standard's Lenox store five years ago. They were 13.
In that time, Arshid's seen the twins and their brand grow, and he says that Lucid FC succeeds at being "fresh" and "unblemished." He's not surprised Vogue reached out to twins to have them offer fashion tips for women; their range warrants such attention. Arshid also commends the twins' understanding of the business, which he says separates them from competition. While he hates to see local talent head elsewhere, he understands why Lucid FC's move to NYC was imminent and necessary.
"If you want to be a country star, you have to pack up and go to Nashville. If you want to be an actor, you go to Hollywood. ... They have a good grasp on [the idea] that in order for us to get where we want to we have to be in the epicenter of fashion, and that's in New York."
The twins have their mind set on opening a Lucid FC flagship store in ATL five years from now, and they praise peers such as FRESH.i.AM and recent collaborator Dr. Dax for keeping the city on the country's cultural conscious. The DeHarts applaud FRESH.i.AM's ability to maintain a fashion-based business in a not-so-fashion-centric market, despite the demand for their line outside of the city. "What they've done for the city is very selfless of them," Chet says. "They could be making more money outside of Atlanta."
It's the understanding of the long-term, big picture perspective that will keep the Lucid FC name going for years to come, no matter the city, says Arshid. "They're such driven young men. Usually guys at that age have motivation, but it's met with a lot of distractions," he says. "What's really amazing is seeing them follow through. That's why I think they're going to be a pretty powerful brand to deal with over the next few years."Additional reporting by Sarah Wilson
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What's more important? Girth or length?
JR, why you feel so fucking entitled to tell artists just what they should and…
Great story... I love Sean's books. I have both! I like his art too...