IKEMEN #34: GABRIEL LIBERTY

July 03, 2017 3:00 PM

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

Name: Gabriel Liberty

Occupation: NYC Nightlife Host, Promoter, and Hat Designer

 

 

1. Where are you from?

Brooklyn, New York.

 

2. How long have you been in New York City?

Twenty five years.

 

3. What words would you choose to describe yourself? Why?

That is a tough question. Recently, I feel like I probably have one identity crisis a week, so I would say the answer to this question changes depending on when you ask me.

 

4. Can you tell us more about your brand Liberty or Death?

I started Liberty or Death after college. I was delivering food at the time and trying to figure out what I was doing with my life. I don’t even remember what initially motivated me to make hats, but I took the time to find a manufacturer and a felt supplier and tried making some. I had absolutely no plan whatsoever and was completely unqualified. I had luck early on when I got some good press. Before I knew it, I had a feature in Hypebeast, and I was being contacted by stores across the world. Then, celebrities and professional athletes started contacting me directly to get hats. In retrospect, it all happened very quickly and I was lucky enough to figure it out as it happened, but I made tons of mistakes along the way. The brand sort of provided my transition into nightlife, although that didn’t really occur to me until recently.

 

5. What brought about your interest in felt hats?  

I wasn’t even a hat person before I started wearing hats. I’ve been told I loved hats as a kid, but I never wore hats in my 20’s. I didn’t even own a felt hat. I think I liked the way girls look in hats and I wanted to repeat that except in unisex form.

 

6. Is there a story behind the name?

The brand was originally called Gabriel Liberty. When I started working with my business partner, he wanted to change the name because having a business under your personal name can be precarious if you inherit a lawsuit or if anything bad happens. In fact, my brand did almost get sued once. He wanted to change the name of the brand and I agreed. Out of nowhere, he sent me a list of names late one night. I just picked the one that I liked the most– Liberty or Death– and he said, "Okay, thats it."

 

7. Can you speak on your design and production process?

With hats, it’s pretty cool because the manufacturer has thousands of hat blocks, which are the wooden frames that you press the felt over when making a hat. You basically look through all the hat blocks and choose a crown shape and a brim shape that you like. You then put them together and can see what the hat you just constructed will look like. For me, everything is trial and error. I don’t always think things through thoroughly.

 

8. What is the greatest inspiration to your work?

It’s not the most original answer, but New York City is easily by biggest influence. I grew up here and very rarely leave– probably just once or twice a year– so it’s pretty much all I know. The great thing about New York is that you have a chance to come across something inspiring every time you leave the house, often in unexpected forms.

 

9. What do you feel have been your career-defining moments?

To be honest with you, I can’t really come up with one specific moment. I’ve just been focused on working hard every day, and I’m not so concerned with career defining moments. There haven’t really been any huge, ground-breaking victories or anything like that. I think that career progress is slow and not that linear. All you can do is give an honest effort every day and the results will (very) slowly start to take shape. 

 

10. What is “Happy Ending” for you?

I got involved in nightlife as a direct result of selling hats. As I was building my own schedule with Liberty or Death, it allowed me to go out at night whenever I wanted. I guess I partied quite a lot and eventually someone just asked me to start hosting a weekly party. At the time, everyone sort of knew me as the hat guy. Before I knew it, I was hosting 3 or 4 parties a week and realized that I could make some decent money doing it. From there, Happy Ending contacted me about doing the door for them which was a good opportunity, although I really had no idea all the crazy stuff I was about to get myself into. I have been there for a year now, and in addition to doing the door, I do the music programming. I am essentially in charge of scheduling and executing five parties a week, from booking DJs and promotors to making fliers for every party. My friends are very sick of receiving fliers from me...

Working at Happy Ending has familiarized me with the behind-the-scenes operational routine of running a nightclub, which has been enormously valuable to me because I eventually would like to open my own place. Happy Ending was and is a great opportunity, and I took advantage of it by saying "yes" to everything they asked me to do and absorbing and learning as much as possible every day. Now I have a great database of DJs and hosts, and I schedule different parties at various venues throughout the city every week.

 

11. What are your most proud accomplishments?

Specific accomplishments don’t really matter that much to me. The most important accomplishment to this point is that I wake up every day excited and passionate about what I am working on. It’s an unpredictable path with a lot of bumps right now, but it’s been exciting. I never really take the time to look back at what I’ve accomplished, because right now it doesn’t matter. I am more concerned with the future and continuing to live and work the way that makes me happy.

 

12. What do you enjoy doing on your days off?

I don’t have any days off, but recently I’ve been going to the Russian/Turkish bathhouse in the East Village which is always an interesting experience. Working in nightclubs is overstimulating so it’s nice to have peace and quiet when I’m not working.  

 

13. What are your life-long dreams?

I’m not sure I can even think that far ahead. Right now, my life-long dream is to upgrade from a studio apartment to a one bedroom...

 

14. Do you have any life-essential tips for TWELV readers?

I am probably the wrong person to ask for life advice, but this year I’m trying to make a conscious effort to be nicer to people, which takes very little effort and I think it can go a long way… So– I don’t know– I guess my life-essential tip would be to be nice. It’s pretty easy.

 

 

INTERVIEWED BY HARUNA AZUMI

EDITED BY HOLLIS DE LANEY

 

PHOTOGRAPHY: HAYATO TAKAHASHI

 

related posts

Yasmina Alaoui Interview & Opera Gallery Exhibition

Yasmina Alaoui burst onto the international arts scene in 2003 with "Tales of Beauty," a collection of nude...

September 11, 2017 5:00 PM  |  People
Søren Solkær

Søren Solkær Interview

Stepping out of a cab into the urban symphony of Midtown, the entryway to The Quin Hotel was easy to spot— with classic architecture and...

September 11, 2017 10:00 AM  |  People
TWELV Interview: Kyra Ross

Kyra Ross of Mona Liza Studios Interview

TWELV sat down with the charismatic Kyra Ross, founder of Mona Liza Studios which falls under his larger moniker "...

August 28, 2017 11:00 AM  |  People
Photo by Giorgio Codazzi for Gioia Magazine

Ira Sumbaeva Interview

TWELV sits down with model Ira Sumbaeva to give a glimpse into the story of the cutest Belarusian...

August 25, 2017 8:00 AM  |  People

Benjamin Shine Interview: Master of Tulle

Benjamin Shine is an award-winning international artist whose work stretches across industries from fashion...

August 16, 2017 4:00 PM  |  People
Sarah LeBlanc

New Type #25: Mémère – Sarah LeBlanc Interview

Upon arriving to the Mémère studio, it felt like stepping from the bustle of New York City...

July 26, 2017 10:00 AM  |  People

NEW TYPE #24: JOHNA STONE INTERVIEW

In 2016, fresh out of Parsons, Johna Stone founded his contemporary womenswear brand.

July 21, 2017 11:00 AM  |  People

IKEMEN #34: GABRIEL LIBERTY

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

July 03, 2017 3:00 PM  |  People

NEW TYPE #23: ANE AMOUR – IYALA ANNE INTERVIEW

“Introducing a talented designer giving sophisticated femininity an edge”

June 23, 2017 1:00 PM  |  People

NEW TYPE #22: Allina Liu INTERVIEW

Born and raised in New York City– we could also add, "in love with”– Allina Liu is a refreshing womenswear designer, who questions the...

June 14, 2017 2:00 PM  |  People

NEW TYPE #21: Kendall Miles INTERVIEW

“My passion is shoes. Kendall Miles shoes are beautiful, alluring and handcrafted in Italy: the perfect pair for the woman who knows who she is and where she wants to go.”

May 23, 2017 3:00 PM  |  People

NEW TYPE #20: Shahista Lalani INTERVIEW

"Introducing an emerging designer creating captivating leather fashions."

February 03, 2017 3:00 PM  |  People

NEW TYPE #19: PAMPLEMOUSSE - Danica Zheng Interview

“Introducing a dedicated, innovative designer to awaken every woman’s inner voice.”

January 10, 2017 10:00 AM  |  People
Shot by Bernadette Baksa

NEW TYPE #18: BOOM DONE SHOP - LIAM BERGIN INTERVIEW

“Introducing the new hot British ethical apparel brand BOOM DONE SHOP” 

December 02, 2016 10:00 AM  |  People

NEW TYPE #17: NAMILA - NAN LI AND EMILIA PFOHL INTERVIEW

NAMILIA was founded in 2015 by Berlin based designers Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl. The duo met while attending University of the Arts Berlin.

November 29, 2016 2:00 PM  |  People

Isabel Dupre Interview

Isabel Dupre Interview is now available!

Check inside for the Full Page Interview.

October 13, 2016 3:00 PM  |  People

MARC ENGLANDER INTERVIEW

Equally as functional as beautiful, the works of Marc Englander, a furniture designer and conceptual artist based in New York City, are simple, innovative, elegant, and distinct.

October 01, 2016 11:00 AM  |  People

IKEMEN #33: DANIEL VIEDMA

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

September 14, 2016 4:00 PM  |  People

Judi Harvest INTERVIEW

“We’re all bees, we need to dance more and always search for beauty,” Judi Harvest proclaims.

September 10, 2016 3:00 PM  |  People

BEHIND THE SCENES #4: Nicola Formichetti

TWELV's Behind the Scenes takes a step back and visits the masterminds behind the camera.

September 06, 2016 2:00 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #32: TERRY DOE

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

Name: TERRY DOE

August 25, 2016 1:00 PM  |  People

NEW TYPE #16: LINDER - SAM LINDER AND KIRK MILLAR INTERVIEW

“Introducing a new generation of quick and fresh minded designers”

August 05, 2016 12:00 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #31: CORNELIUS LOY

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

August 01, 2016 3:00 PM  |  People

NEW TYPE #15: JULIANNA BASS - JULIANNA BASS INTERVIEW

While on assignment in Berlin, Bass was so taken with the culture, art and fashion of the city that following year she made the move from Brooklyn to Berlin, to further develop her...

July 26, 2016 3:00 PM  |  People
SITE BY: monocomplex©Marbles & Marbles International Inc.
▲ back to top ▲