“I love riots. I mean, I am not partaking in fights. But I love the adrenaline rush of being in them—second row, yelling”, David laughs. He’s sitting on my couch, and we are chatting about May 1st—German Labor Day—which is known for violent clashes in the streets between police and autonomous groups. We are killing time waiting for his partner-in-crime Jakob to arrive for an interview in my place.
Tea time with the most notorious contemporary fashion bloggers.
I’m a little heartbroken as David has just turned down the carefully selected cheese platter I had planned to offer as a good host – because he’s vegan. What a fine example of a contemporary urban lifestyle dichotomy, I’m thinking to myself. Riots and veganism. Rivals the modern classic, cocaine and yoga.
David Kurt Karl Roth and Carl Jakob Haupt are what you could call fashion punks, and they’re on a rampage. For the last five years these guys have been trailblazing through the German fashion scene and they’re showing no sign of stopping anytime soon. With their men’s style blog DANDY DIARY and thereafter-named infamous parties, they have become the German Ministry of Cool in no-time, spearheading Berlin’s young creative elite. Fashion designers, brands, half of Germany’s fashion blogs, PR consultants, you name it—all up their young asses.
Would you let your best friend shit on you in a bathtub? Meet the guys who answered ‘yes’.
David started out alone, DANDY DIARY being part of his master’s thesis. Jakob followed some two years later after graduating in politics. The duo quickly gained credibility in the scene with radical actions unseen before in the online realm, for example, when taking a t-shirt review with a ‘shitty’ verdict to a literal level.
“It was in the early days, when the deep v-neck was all the rage. I put it on, and my flatmate shit on me, and… I think you took the pic, right, Jakob?”
Jakob has arrived and we are now sitting at my table while I’m enjoying the cheese platter all by myself. Jakob is vegan, too. Yet, I’m happy the wine is not spared. I can’t help but notice an incredible raw energy around these two guys. As soon as they’re together they develop a powerful presence, like a twin engine shifting into gear. They’ve been friends since high school, and you can feel it in the way they complement each other.
“I had my flatmate piss in my face once because of nerd shades. One of my mom’s friends who is a psychologist read into it that I want to be humiliated. But all I wanted was to write about the nerd glasses!”
– Dandy Dave
“A series of 3-4 really good shots”, Jakob replies, “it was quite funny because somebody on facebook commented under the picture ‘ok, question is: who is the pervert that took the photo’?”
I’m having a hard time holding my cheese in laughing while Jakob continues. “They were wearing animal masks. Back then we weren’t sure if we wanted our faces to be recognized, nowadays we don’t care anymore.”
“I had the same flatmate piss in my face once because of nerd shades,” Dave adds, adding to my amusement, “one of my mom’s friends who is a psychologist read into it as having certain sexual meaning, and that I want to be humiliated.” Dave bursts into laughter. “But all I wanted was to write about the nerd glasses!”
The early days of Germany’s first mens’ fashion blog.
If that was the very beginning of DANDY DIARY, I want to know. “No, the whole thing started off with these outfit posts from you, and your clothes on the girls you had just slept with”, Jakob nods to Dave.
“They were naked with single items of his thrown on.”
“The category was named ‘Mannequin'”, Dave explains, “but after only three women it was stopped due to a relationship about to begin…”
“…unfortunately…”, Jakob throws in smiling.
“…with my girlfriend who I’m still with. Headlines were like ‘Brazilian in Fur’ and she would wear one of my pieces and was nude apart from that.” I ask if the sex before taking the pictures was real. Not because I’m doubting it, but more of a rhetorical question to confirm. “Exactly. That was the idea.”
DANDY DIARY is a controversial, raging, vegan, extroverted punk machinery of explosive creativity.
David and Jakob can be vulgar. Blunt, yes. Bold, at times. However, primitive they are never, I note to myself. And they seem to be hitting the nerve of a generation. While being renegade in style and attitude, their verbal eloquence in real life is right up there with their writing – skillful, elaborate, and entertaining.
Every word is carefully measured and chosen from an impressive vocabulary. Shitting on shirts, granted, is tempting for a rush to judgment. But make no mistake, these guys are so sharp and educated between their ears that they’ll have you in their pocket before you can spell the name of your ivy league college.
Radicalism as a means to an end?
Does one need to provoke to be heard out there amongst all the media noise nowadays, I ask.
“I believe it’s even harder nowadays to act with such radicalism”, Jakob replies. I notice that he seems to like taking the lead on answers, and he appears to be the more extroverted of the two. My gut feeling tells me he is the entrepreneurial type of the duo while David is the artist.
“Internet has become a positively affirming network. It is about expressing your satisfaction. Icons are all positive. There is no real option to bash something. Plus, such a pic [the shit shirt photo] wouldn’t work for example on Instagram. It worked because it was on a blog that is not censored. But certainly, radicalism is always good to get awareness, and it is still a tool of ours to build up profile.”
“We’re not radical just for the sake of being radical though”, Dave adds, “it is simply our language, our means of expression.”
“It serves the purpose to get our fashion commentary across”, Jakob explains, “we don’t do it to provoke. It is merely to illustrate in a very straight-forward way what we are thinking. We could have written ‘v-neck shirts are shit’ but it is way more graphical and experiential to shit on it, and even get personally battered in the whole thing.”
There is lots of laughter this night, and I find it very refreshing that these guys don’t take themselves nor their business too seriously.
DANDY DIARY’s offline activities are disruptive creative genius.
“I think the fashion world takes itself too seriously, but this is a chance for us at the same time. To find a niche with actions such as #fashionooball.”
Dave refers to a recent coup d’etat in which the Dandy Diary gang crashed the sacred Dolce & Gabbana show in Milan with a streaker in sneakers, referencing the classic soccer match streaker that gets carried away by security guards for a few seconds of naked fame. The gang nominated a friend whose face couldn’t be connected to them. They waited until the media buzz was in full bloom. Then revealed the secret of its origin to the public. A choreography reminiscent of underground rebel armies, and with a massive international press echo.
“Because the fashion industry is such a glamorous, vain old world there are still so many things that you can play with.”
– Dandy Dave
“Because the fashion industry is such a glamorous, vain old world there are still lots of things one can do”, Dave tells me, “and so many things that you can play with. Which is not possible anymore in other areas such as the art realm.”
“It only works because everyone thinks they’re important, and because everybody drinks Champagne”, Jakob adds, “it wouldn’t work where it’s a laissez-faire and everyone can do whatever they want.”
The perks of a fashion blogger.
We are warming up, getting into a groove. How does a commercialized ‘cool’ blog remain independent from brands that want to buy one out for their cause, I want to know. Dave sums it up for me.
“Brands approach us, and say ‘hey we want to push a campaign’, a shoe for example, and then the first step is we see if we identify with the product, the campaign, etc. And if there’s a mutual green light, currently we charge 1,250 EUR for an advertorial with a couple of pictures…”
“We had a case where a PR company would stop working with us because we bashed one of their brands. This is what you have to deal with. It’s the daily business of every paid editorial out there. Or do you really believe VOGUE is an independent editorial?”
– Dandy Dave
“…which we do ourselves in our own visual language”, Jakob takes over, “so we don’t take campaign pictures. We say ‘you can send us your product, and then we do our thing but you can’t have a word in that, you need to take it as it is’…”
– “There’s also the other case where brands approach us with pre-written copies or other absurd stuff…”
– “…and press photos, and then there’s no question anymore if we think it’s cool. We turn it down immediately.”
Why saying ‘NO’ can be healthy for any blog’s business.
Can they afford to turn down ANY brand no matter who? Are their brands out there too important to reject?
“It’s not about the brand rather about the money”, Jakob explains, “but we’re in a place where we’re independent enough and not in need of every collaboration. The brand isn’t that important, it’s the product that’s more important. We aren’t covering brands in whole, rather just cool products.”
“Whereas, there’s a whole bunch of brands that we would NOT work with,” Dave concludes, “no matter what the price. However, as a commercial blog you always need to consider this wisely. We had a case where a PR company that was representing a dozen brands would stop working with us completely because we bashed one of their brands. This is what you have to deal with. It’s the daily business of every paid editorial out there. Or do you really believe VOGUE is an independent editorial?”
The greatest trick the Dandies pulled was to move into an unoccupied niche.
Had they thought they would end up in the place they are today when they started off?
“That’s one for me,” Dave preludes, “it wasn’t planned like this but quickly there was media attention. After only a couple of months, DIE WELT wrote about DANDY DIARY. And you could see that there was an interest in men’s fashion, and for provocative ways to deal with the topic of fashion. It built up slowly over years so I wouldn’t say I am completely surprised.”
“Not anymore. Probably the biggest moment of surprise was when we published our porn movie,” Jakob says, “when SPIEGEL ONLINE had a huge feature the next morning, and our website crashed due to traffic overload. We had not seen that coming. We had talked to the editors but we didn’t know how much horsepower was behind it.”
Where do top-creative fashion bloggers get their inspiration?
One of the most interesting and inspiring parts that I was looking forward to this evening was to ‘brainbug’ these guys for insight into their creative process. How do they work? How do they find inspiration? How do they evaluate and set trends? How do they navigate the web? What routines have proven efficient?
Jacob takes the lead on this one. “I think it’s interesting to note that we are totally different in our approach, and that we look at different websites. Rarely the same stuff. We operate blindfolded from each other. And yet it has only happened twice that we’ve written about the same topic at the same time and published it.
Which was funny to have two different perspectives. As for me, I surf the web a lot, of course, browsing established product sites such as Hypebeast, Highsnobiety,… and alike. I read a lot of classic newspapers and feuilleton in which I gain a totally different perspective, also on other topics. I graduated in politics so I bring a totally different view on things.
“I believe that trends can be seen the earliest, fastest in night life because it’s there that people are the most extravagant and most considerate about what they wear.”
– Dandy Jakob
And what I enjoy doing and find incredibly interesting is seeking inspiration in night life, and everything related to an ecstatic lifestyle. I believe that trends can be seen the earliest, fastest in night life because it’s there that people are the most extravagant, and most considerate about what they wear. I find it to be much richer going to the hippest club in an unfamiliar city than doing street styles. It’s the encounters in night life that inspire me.”
“How could you possibly remember those encounters?” Dave takes the piss out of Jakob, “That must be a lie.” We are bursting into laughter before it‘s his turn.
“For me a lot happens through traveling. I am on the road sometimes for a month in cities such as Hongkong, Tokyo… that are quite visionary when it comes to fashion – progressive cultures in that regard. That fascinates me. And when I’m there I’m probably a lot more alert than when walking through Berlin. Likewise, the very avant-garde world of high fashion is an inspiration, too.”
Drawing inspiration from heroin junkies.
“But besides that – and other blogs – it’s often not the fashion people who inspire me but instead subcultures that don’t have anything to do with fashion. Let’s say for example, the German Proll style is on [editor’s note to the non-German readers: just imagine the German ‘Proll’ as a hybrid between an American bro and a redneck]. In that case I find it fascinating to go out, and look at the real life Prolls. If you look at Berlin-Marzahn’s Prolls they have been wearing this little pouch on their side for quite a while.
As of late, I am fascinated by junkies that started off with heroin in the 60’s or 70’s, they still have these hippie elements but they are totally fucked up and haggard. But in their own way they have style. Once you have identified a group or a theme—say, ‘sports’ is on for some three years now—so once this world is discovered then you can basically take it from there piece by piece. Like… right now we see trends from the 2000’s coming back, and the ‘racing’ trend is starting to grow bigger, and it’s predictable that certain other things will follow that.”
“I don’t see the fashion industry in any responsibility. There’s a responsibility for providing the right production environment. But when it comes to creating role models…
I don’t give a fuck.
– Dandy Dave”
“It’s pretty obvious where it leads”, Jakob specifies, “once a door is opened the trend moves slowly but it’s predictable where it’s heading. Say ‘sports’ is the starting point it is just a matter of time until ‘running shoes’ will be back. It starts slowly, then broadens, ‘jogging pants’ then become cool, or ‘sports jackets’.”
The Dandies about the responsibility of the fashion industry.
What responsibility do TV shows like Germany’s Next Top Model or the fashion industry in general have for the youth? Part one of the grand finale of Heidi Klum’s TV show is taking place at the very moment we’re having our conversation, and the Dandy boys have sacrificed watching it for the interview, which flatters me.
“I’ve just seen this statistic today that shows a curve of the influence of GNTM on the feeling of young girls towards their body. They asked 11 to 17-year-olds, and when the show started – must have been like 2006 – some 68% were feeling well in their body while today it is down to 50-something percent, so about 10% less girls feel well in their bodies since GNTM started. However, this could also be related to the internet being a way more graphic world where everybody compares themselves to others, and where you have more role models.”
Dave takes advantage of being the second to answer and is more blunt on his stance. His answer is a one-liner and it’s the one I had expected from a fashion punk.
“I don’t see the fashion industry in any responsibility. There’s a responsibility for providing the right production environment for employees, yes. But when it comes to creating role models… I don’t give a fuck about that.”
Eccentric role models of the fashion world.
During our conversation about responsibility Jakob happens to answer a question I had been carrying with me all evening. The Dandies are quite radical not only in the way that they express themselves but also in their style recommendations (which go by the title LOOK DU JOUR on their various channels).
“If you dress exactly like we are telling you on our blog then that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. You will have massive problems when standing at Kotti, and the boys are molesting you. Fashion is about encouragement, too.”
– Dandy Jakob
Most of their looks seem too eccentric for the average fashion-affine male. Jakob confirms my impression.
“If you dress exactly like we are telling you on our blog then that doesn’t mean it’s good or better for you. You will have massive problems when standing at Kotti [editor’s note: ‘Kotti’ is Berlin slang for ‘Kottbusser Tor’, one of Berlin’s inner cities and most infamous drug hot spots], and the boys are molesting you. Fashion is about encouragement, too.”
Why we need creatives like David and Jakob.
I feel I’ve come to understand a lot tonight, about creativity in the fashion world, about attitude and inspiration, and why this world needs eccentric role models.
They spark debates.
They offer an abundance of inspiration to pick from.
DANDY DIARY about music and literature.
Because I know almost every creative mind needs music and literature to feed on I’m interested in what these guys read or listen to. As usual, Jakob goes first.
“Das weiße Buch, Rafael Horzon. Read it. Mind-changing. He sees himself as an entrepreneur but in fact he’s an artist.” Has it been published in English? “No, but it’s worth learning German for it.” Music? “Totally rad song I am hooked to at the moment, ‘Nerve Endings’ from the Eagulls.”
– “I am listening to SOHN’s new album as of late.”
Jakob comes back again with a very honest and intimate insight that makes me smile because I can relate to it so well.
“I listen to melancholic music mostly. Sigur Ros is very suitable for getting a severe depression after a long party weekend. And I really let myself fall into this, with headphones. I couldn’t listen to happy music in these moments. I need something that supports my mood. And then I am usually close to tears. Depending on how loud I listen to it.”
DANDY DIARY’s music videos are a collage of self-ironic trash, style, and fun.
“Have you seen our music videos?” There’s barely anything these guys are afraid of touching, I’m thinking, when I’m reminded by Jakob that the Dandies have also released several songs. I am remembering the ‘My Girl’ video, and it strikes me once again how close trash and style can go together, with irony as their mediator.
“We have a Christmas song that is not trashy”, Jakob soothes my expressed thoughts, however, a faint memory in the back of my head tells me I had a different perception. Or am I just being unfair because I am mixing up song and video? When looking at the 2013 Xmas remake that opens on star designer Jean-Paul Gaultier you quickly come to realize this whole thing is not about the music anyway. It’s about something else. First and foremost the Dandies are having tons of fun. And they love sharing it with the world.
“We wanted to challenge ourselves on the three big pop genres: a Christmas song, a summer hit, and a ballad. The latter is yet to come. I would also love to do a rap song.” I am instantly in love with the rap song idea, pictures of Jakob with golden grillz on the front of a Benz ascending in my head. Which rapper would he list under inspiration, I ask him. “I love Jay-Z. Because he built his brand only with this one nasal sound – ‘UUH’. Totally rad.”
The Dandies comment on Terry Richardson.
While talking to the Dandies about societal responsibility another debate comes to mind. Terry Richardson. I had a look at his collection of deeds the other day (watch out, this is as NSFW as it gets), and I had expected to see a guy who takes advantage of intimidated young individuals in a ruthless predatory way, as it’s often displayed. However, I couldn’t find any young, premature model victims anywhere. Instead, what I saw was a bunch of adults that must be either prostituting themselves for fame or genuinely having fun.
Dave has similar thoughts on this subject and speaks for both Dandies. “If you’re a model going to a shoot with Terry Richardson then you should know what you’ve signed up for. Anything else is more than naive. Richardson has become famous through pornographic content in the fashion realm. The way that Dirty Terry treats models on a shoot – I’ll leave it undiscussed what he does there – is part of his work. Crossing the line and getting involved as a photographer are his means for his art. We find it ok if Richardson pulls out his cock at a shoot. What is not ok is the virtual manhunt on him led by weird feminists and internet populists.”
Dandy Diary’s favorite trends of 2014.
We’ve made it to the hands-on standard questions. What are their three favorite trends at the moment, I ask the Dandies. The verdict is unanimous.
“Sandals with socks, Knickerbockers, and Racing.”
And which trend would they like to see come back?
“The combination of jeans and cord”, Dave shoots first but I am not sure he’s really taken my question literal, “cord in front, jeans in the back.”
“We WILL see it come back”, Jakob covers for his buddy, “If we WANT that I’m not so sure. But it did exist once upon a time.” He starts thinking out loud. “Hmmm, what else did I like back then…”
“What about voluptuous beauty ideals from Baroque”, I’m trying to assist.
Dave starts snickering. “You asked the right guy!”
“I like it size zero”, Jakob confesses.
Throwing parties is an essential part of a fashion blogger’s work.
How about throwing a party in L.A.?
“L.A. would be rad”, David and Jakob answer synchronously, and they seem enthusiastic about it. “We would love to do something there right away. The L.A. scene is very active in fashion at the moment”, Jakob explains, “two years ago L.A. was totally out but now it has a crazy scene. We had Brooke Candy on our last party, she’s from L.A., and through her and her boyfriend we’re following what’s going on over there. It’s on. Rad city.”
Anything in the pipeline that could be worth mentioning?
“Parties in Copenhagen and Berlin for summer fashion week 2014. A design cooperation…”, Jakob is not sure if he can give it away, then lets me in, “…there will be a streaker sneaker. The same shoe that was worn by the streaker in Milan. We’ll release it in a Dandy Diary version, limited edition. Together with the manufacturer KangaRoos. Rad brand. It will be a collector’s thing.”
First time they design a product?
“No, we did a shirt once”, Dave tells me.
The future of DANDY DIARY.
And where would they like to see DANDY DIARY in ten years from today?
“For sure at the plastic surgeon’s so we still look good on the blog”, Jakob jokes, “and, of course, we would like to extend our influence in the fashion industry. Doing more of our thing, just as we do today.”
What would they like to do when they grow up, is my last question of the night. Jakob’s voice tells me he’s taking this more seriously than I had intended with the question.
“My parents ask me this all the time. The job we do today didn’t exist ten years ago. I don’t want to know what I’ll be doing in ten years. Ideally, DANDY DIARY will change over time in a way that we can both still do our job. If not, I don’t want to do any job that exists today. PLEASE.” He laughs as he realizes how serious he must have sounded, and hands it over to Dave by suggesting he should become a farmer.
A blogger’s recreational activities: farming Psilocybin.
“I have started raising magic mushrooms professionally to balance me out from all this fashion work”, Dave lets me in, “I’ll send you some. I have just harvested. I can’t take them to Asia, that would be too intense.”
“I should take some to Ukraine”, Jakob suggests, “that would be rad. We’re flying over next Thursday for fashion week.” I imagine Dandy Jakob on magic mushrooms at a fashion week in a country on the brink of a civil war, and it blows my mind.
When I hug the Dandies goodbye I realize my head is still pounding, but only as the result of the bank holiday, and in spite of my hangover I feel grateful for this encounter, and more inspired than I’ve felt in a very long time.
There are two serious options for a man in need of fashion advice, I think to myself, as my apartment door snaps shut behind David and Jakob as they leave down my staircase and into the courtyard in a hurry, hoping to catch the last seconds of Heidi Klum’s casting show.
Either you ask your granny. Or these two. And Grandma would have liked these two motherfuckers.
David and Jakob are currently living in Berlin.
Their men’s fashion blog DANDY DIARY is published in German and English.
If you’d like to know what to expect when DANDY DIARY comes celebrate in a city near you, make sure you check out the pics below.
P.S. No, we weren’t paid for this article by any brand mentioned. Unfortunately. We are still considering calling KangaRoos.