An adidas shoe from 1996 that easily fits into 2018 and a cultural keeper, streetwear legend and vintage connoisseur from a little time before 1997 that still pushes his creativity and style way beyond 2018 – let’s talk about the adidas Yung-1 and Jens aka DJ JNS. When the adidas running team regularly ran through a small village called Falkendorf back in 1996, they finally found the perfect name for their new innovative and technology-driven shoe: The Falcon Dorf. What the team did not know was that the same shoe they set another milestone in running with, would turn heads at fashion weeks around the globe 20 years later as the Falcon Dorf is being re-released as the Yung-1.
Staying true to its origins but also being able to ride the contemporary style waves are the keys that make the Yung-1 a perfect sneaker for today‘s bulky-dad-shoe-trend and also a true gem for nostalgic collectors and vintage lovers. Combining past love with new influences, trends and youth movements is also part of DJ JNS’s lifestyle and mindset. Just like the shoe, DJ JNS is also a „Yung 1“ that couldn’t have been a better pick for our feature story about the secret formula and mindset behind timeless style.
Hi Jens, can you please introduce yourself and your diverse creative hustle in Berlin to the Sneakers Mag readership?
Well … my name’s Jens, but most of the people know me by my Facebook AKA, Brad Pitch, or by my artist name, DJ JNS. Some of the older sneaker collectors and hardcore kids – who aren’t kids anymore – also know me by the name of Gallo. So you can see I am a man of many names, hahaha. And I do quite a lot of different stuff as well. I’ve been a DJ for over 10 years now, playing mainly electronic music but spiced with some bits of hip-hop or indie here and there – and I am still eager to play as much as possible. My day job is at Overkill, Berlin’s finest and one of Germany’s biggest and best sneaker stores, where I am Head of Marketing and Content Manager of the in-house blog. And yeah, besides I run – together with my matey Micha – Strassenmodekultur, a German-speaking community and magazine for streetwear and everything that relates. In this context we publish a print magazine every month, of which I am the Editor in Chief and which I also design. But at the end of the day, I am just a guy who’s been passionate about subculture, music and fashion since his early years. And that’s a fire that still burns.
You just moved to Berlin and you’ve already spread your name and talent quite all over the city. How would you describe your restless attitude? What keeps you away from taking a break, Jens?
Well … as I said I am very passionate about the things I love and do. And I think that’s the main point. It’s not about money or the aspect of making some kind of career (even though those points are obviously nice side effects) or some dubious internet fame. I really enjoy being with like-minded people, who might inspire me or whom I even serve as an inspiration and share my passion with them.
You know there is a reason you and the Yung-1 are in the same article. In contrast to some rather grumpy OGs, your style and mindset always stay on the contemporary and younger side – of course, with mixing in some lovely vintage vibes. So what is your secret formula to staying young at heart, Jens?
I don’t have such a formula or a masterplan or something like that to stay young at heart. It’s just a matter of attitude. Not a conscious one, but one that comes from deep within. Passion and love for the things you do. And being curious! Yeah…. being curious and open-minded helps really a lot. Drop your blinkers, think outside the box. And always just do what you like. Listen to the music that touches you most, even though it might be unpopular. Dress the way you feel and don’t give a fuck about hypes and trends. Simply be yourself and be real. Maybe that’s the formula.
If we again look at the Yung-1, we see a vintage silhouette that still perfectly fits in the year 2018. And yet there is an individual and sleek way you are able to wear vintage clothing in a very modern way without looking like you are on the way to a costume party. How do you do that, Jens, and what can we learn from you?
That might sound corny, but I simply feel it. Look … I’ve been dealing with how to dress “the right way” since I was a metal head at the age of 13. From then on I stumbled through various subcultures, of which hip-hop and hardcore were the most distinctive. I always had a deep interest in what the essence of the corresponding subculture is – the thoughts inherent in it, but also in the style codes that served to distinguish it from the mainstream. As I got older, the desire to belong to a certain group naturally disappears more and more, but the experience gained over the years and the memory of all the styles has remained.
Since I grew out of the classical subcultures at the beginning of 2000 and no longer dressed myself “scene-typical,” there have always been these moments in which I… well, had some kind of intuition or desire to wear a particular piece of clothing or a particular way to wear it. And all of them are inspired by those things I already have experienced in my life in those youth cultures. Back then I was always a bit ahead of my time. People used to say: “If you wanna know what next year’s trend is, just look what Jens wears today.” No joke! But that was before everything exploded and even the most absurd microtrend found its way into children’s rooms via the internet in seconds.
That’s not meant to be judgmental at all, but nowadays it has become incredibly difficult to be ahead of the times, because everything goes very fast and spreads immediately. But I still have those moments when I think: “Ah… cholo-style Ben Davis chinos would be the shit right now!” and then I just pull it. I also like to wear OG pieces which some of the contemporary styles are based on. Like, “Hey, you paid a ridiculous resale price for this jacket by hype-brand XYZ and you’re just one of so many kids reppin’ this one. I paid just a couple of bucks for the original one at a local thrift shop – which is way cooler because a) I saved a lot of money, which I can spend on even more clothes, and b) I am probably the only one owning this piece.” And even though the word’s worn out and I can’t hear it anymore, it is all about being authentic.
It’s not only with your outfit that you’re mixing historic pieces with new influences. Also with your very own magazine and community, Strassenmodekultur, you’re bridging the gap between generations. Can you please tell us a little bit about the community and the magazine behind SMK?
Strassenmodekultur saw the light of day in late 2015, and it started as a German-speaking Facebook group for streetwear and the lifestyle that goes with it. I was added to this group in early 2016 and, after being a bit skeptical at the beginning, I soon realized that there were some nice people with the same mindset f loating around. Enthusiasts, collectors, creatives, people from the industry – and a lot of them with their own authentic styles. It was, and still is, a lot about posting your daily outfits and discussing about the latest trends and drops, upcoming brands, and so on and so on. I felt comfortable and participated actively, which led to the point when the founders (including Micha) asked me if I wanted to become an Admin. The rest is history, haha.
At that time there was already a round-up where the most interesting topics and outfits of the past month were summarized and some news were featured. But then it just was a PDF with just a handful of pages. By that time, as more and more people joined our little community, the round-up got bigger, and at one point we decided to do something special for the community and printed our first magazine. That was two years ago and we’re still publishing every month.
The community has grown in the past two years, but in a healthy way. The tone is mostly decent and there’s a really good and relaxed vibe. I guess that’s also because we run a strict nonselling/ buying policy. It’s just about good content, sharing thoughts and having a good time.
How important do you think is it to teach and tell the younger generation about the origins, subcultures and people behind trends, products and hypes? Or, better said, why should young people listen to the “Old 1s” too?
That’s a question I am a bit conf licted about. On one hand, I think it’s essential to know the roots and it’s a shame that so few kids care about history and origins nowadays. In hip-hop there’s a golden rule that is called “each one, teach one” – nuff said! Or as it was printed on one of my first Stussy t-shirts I bought in 1992: “Knowledge is King!” I mean, if you live a certain lifestyle and have a deep interest in certain things and even collecting them, how can you not be interested in the origins? Never understood that! But on the other hand, I’m not sure anymore if you really had to teach the kids; isn’t it better to be the authentic and cool dude that inspires them to develop their own interest in the history and the roots? I don’t want to be the teacher of streetwear. I’d rather be the one the kids look at and say: “Wow, I didn’t know that this design isn’t originally by Supreme… I want to learn more about this.” But I love to talk about this topic anyways, so I’m always open for a little chat and for dropping some knowledge, hahaha.
Some OG’s really have a hard time saying too many good things about the scene today, social media and “the game.” With having you here, a true OG and “Yung 1” at the same time, I want you to tell us please what is so unbelievably exciting and enjoyable right now. What are the modern or futuristic things and movements that still make you love being part of this scene?
Of course, the quick availability of information that I have just mentioned also has many positive aspects. It has never been so easy to exchange views with like-minded people worldwide, which leads to many friendships, as well as enormous synergy effects. You do not have to spend years potholing to present your own creative output to a certain audience. And this possibility spurs many to creative excellence. Of course, there is also the other side, where anyone who once printed a standard t-shirt with a design or scrawled his sneakers with a marker thinks he is the new Virgil Abloh. Even if not all of the output is for me, I love this fresh DIY attitude. The kids sew straps and bags to their jackets, mix materials and patterns and just do something. And that is something which is really exciting. Giving the new generation the space and the opportunities to develop creatively is the best thing that can happen. Just have a look at those upcoming Asian brands – that stuff is mental!
So what comes next, Jens?
Wow … that’s a tough one. Everything is changing so fast and the boundaries are pushed more and more every day. But one thing is for sure: I will continue to mix contemporary and modern styles with some lovely vintage pieces. And I will always wear what I feel at the moment and won’t care about what’s hype or not. And hopefully I always will stay young at heart!
As you might know, I am not the biggest adi-head on this planet, but what they did with the Yung-1 is on point! The design is just sick and so close to the original Falcon Dorf – great job done! I am looking forward to the revival of the ZX running silhouettes, especially those with the four-digit numbers like the ZX8000. But as I always have a weak spot for the obscure and unpopular sneaker models, I would like to see a revival of the adidas Lexicon. Yes … that would be nice!
This story first appeared in our July 2018 issue of Sneakers Magazine – available now!