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NativeDanger Could Save Your Life

When Skyler Javier isn’t rescuing people as a paramedic and firefighter in DC, he is sewing together pieces for his progressive menswear line NativeDanger, the illest thing to come out of our nation’s capital since Bad Brains.

Photos by Erica Euse

For the past three years, Skyler Javier has been riding in the back of ambulances and fire trucks, tending to the injuries and putting out the fires of distressed Washingtonians. Sometimes the 26-year-old DC native spends well over 50 hours a week as a paramedic and firefighter, but saving lives isn’t his passion—it’s his salary.

When Skyler isn’t mending a stab wound, he is sewing together pieces for his progressive menswear line NativeDanger, the illest thing to come out of our nation’s capital since Bad Brains. The self-taught designer, who is a former intern of the great Asher Levine, dropped his first collection for spring/summer 2014, complete with button down shirts with detachable vests and neoprene jackets. The anime inspired pieces could make any man look like a badass ninja.


With a history in street art, Skyler transitioned into clothing design five years ago after he bought a sewing machine and some premade patterns. He attended the training academy to become a paramedic and firefighter, since he knew the schedule would allow him to continue designing. Every couple weeks, Skyler commutes to New York City to pick out materials and monitor his production in the Garment District.

During an early November trip, I met with him at a coffee shop in downtown Manhattan. Dressed in a blue crewneck sweater and drop-crotch pants, he looked like he could sew better than he could save me from a burning building. I talked to him about starting his own line, wearing tentacles, and saving lives.

VICE: How did you go about starting a line with no formal training?
In the very beginning, I bought a sewing machine and looked at how pieces were put together. I just started trying to do that. They looked like clothes, but obviously there were some things that were off. From there I started messing around with premade patterns.

What was the first piece you tried making?
I was pretty ambitious. Most people would probably start out with something simple. But I was like, “I want to make a jacket.” I did. It was wearable and it looked pretty cool… from far away.

How do you balance designing and fire fighting?
Part of the reason I tried to get that job was because I knew the schedule was conducive to having a side venture. You work 24-hour shifts and then you are off for three days.


What is the inspiration behind your designs?
I take ideas from fantastical places, like anime and manga, and work backwards from there to make it wearable and relevant. Basically, that ends up being things that are geometrically inspired and have functional use.

You use weird fabrics like neoprene in your collection. Is that something you seek out?
I try to walk the line of unconventional and accessible. I like OCDing over how to do something that will catch people's attention but not be something that looks like a costume.

What was it like being Asher Levine's intern? 
Through that entire process, I got a good grasp on the idea of construction, and I was able to run with that. I helped out with their spring 2013 runway show. I was able to help with production, but at the last minute, a model didn’t show, so I got pulled into walking. That was super trippy. It involved a mask and tentacles. I had no shirt on. It was insane.

Had you ever walked in a runway before?
No. I was nervous, but it was OK because I had on a mask. It was definitely up my alley in terms of irony. I could see everyone, but they couldn’t see my face. It was surreal. I got a follow-up gig afterwards actually. There was some major event, and they wanted some of the looks there, so I had to go and stand in a corner. At one point a lady was licking my stomach.

That seems pretty stressful to be saving lives, designing clothing, and having a life.
I want to make the creative thing happen, so I am super practical. Unless I can find someone to back me, there is no other way. It’s not a bad thing. I don’t mind having to work.


Pre-order NativeDanger's spring/summer 2014 collection here


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