Getting to Know Dion Lewis

What is purity? A concept, goal, maybe something to strive for? The term is relatively malleable, being that each individual conceptualizes purity a little differently. For Dion Lewis, purity is not to be defined, but displayed. Since launching Inpuristform 5 years ago, the 23-year-old who doubles as an artist & creative consultant has successfully portrayed purity in many of its forms. Soon we will see the launch of yet another portrayal in his collaboration alongside brother brand: Barriers. I was able to catch up with the young creative to learn not only why this release is so significant, but also understand how life experiences translate to his artistry.

“This collaboration is special because its IpF’s brother brand and our first collaboration together.” Dion noted. “We chose to do a hat because we want it to be something you wear on the daily. The inspiration stems from both of our brands promoting empowerment through authentic actions with our pieces, gatherings, and visions.” Dion considers Barriers co-heads Barter and Jeff family. And as both brands have grown and developed, so has the relationship between them. Considering their aligned values and vision, it was only a matter of time before they teamed up for something special.

These hats will be available in both a black and orange color way and include barbwire embellishments along with “Inpuristforum” printed atop the Barriers logo. The attention to detail is evident, but the message behind the design is most noteworthy. “Using ‘inpuristforum’ instead of the brand name evokes something to speak about, and our brands being black owned standing together in unison.”

Dion is no stranger to producing thought provoking content. When he launched Inpuristform from his Long Island University dorm room, it was meant to be an interpretive experience to empower expressions based on real life situations. And while he has been successful in his vision, IpF has become far more than a mere experience. The brand’s intimate relationship with humanity has allowed it to be a space of inclusivity for all, especially the black community.

“It’s here to protect, preserve, and serve the people through my perspective unlike the crooked cops and corrupted government system that my people are plagued with from birth. I want to intrigue people and provoke thought through different mediums and contribute something real.”

And in contributing something real he has uncovered the many layers to what “purity” consists of. The vast majority of individuals give purity a positive connotation; but the reality is that it dually exists within the peaks and troughs of life. Throughout his lifetime Dion, has grown to understand all there is to purity through the multitude of situations he has found himself in.

“There have been times I was starved, broke, homeless, but always stood my ground and made it out of those unfortunate elements to be the man I am today. I’m most thankful for each time I struggle because it shows me what I don’t want in life, and I get what I want in the end always.”

Interestingly enough, alongside these low points he considers his time working for a local BestBuy just as significant to his growth. “Making myself the plug when I worked at BestBuy in LA definitely contributed most because that was my first and only paycheck type job. Working in that environment was definitely new to me, but I quickly learned the value of relationship building as well as stepping out of my comfort zone.”

Dion especially learned the value of stepping out of his comfort zone after moving out to the west coast. After only a semester at LIU Brooklyn he moved out to California in pursuit of a life more catered to his interests. This move proved to be worthwhile as it fostered what he now considers his elevated mindset. “The way I think now is definitely different from the way I thought back then, but that all comes with growth and maturity. I’m thankful for all the changes that occurred between then and now, or else I wouldn’t be here right now.”

The foundation for all that he has already accomplished began in him growing up in Harlem. Harlem’s impact on the fashion world is undeniable at this point, and Dion attributes his upbringing to his early interest in fashion.

“Being a part of a large community, which felt like a different world based on playing ball and getting fly, you develop a perfect combo in the atmosphere of both.” he said.  “I recall having more interest in style rather than fashion always.” This interest accelerated due to his mother also working at Polo Ralph Lauren in SoHo at the time. Frequently visiting her at work allowed him to develop great taste as well as knowledge on color theory, pattern, and shapes. “The duality of being there with her but living in Harlem is what I value the most because I was exposed to so much early.”

This exposure allowed him to appreciate not only the timelessness of style, but clothing’s relationship with culture as well. As we all know by now, clothing and culture are not mutually exclusive. The most impactful brands have always been able to connect with the consumer. And in doing so, that t-shirt becomes more than print on graphic. “Seeing the magnitude, you could take something as simple as a hoodie or a tee…I knew I wanted to contribute to that progression.” 

He has always felt great inspiration from big name Japanese fashion moguls such as Nigo, Hiroshi Fujiwara and Jun Takahashi, but it wasn’t until he saw black creatives like Pharrell, Kanye West and ZacFTP that he believed he could start his own wave.

Staying true to his vision and starting his own wave has allowed IpF to not solely exist within the realm of fashion. While yes, IpF is technically a brand, it really is whatever Dion wants to make of it. All expressions of IpF are made in his home studio: a space he considers to be his temple. “ I keep it as organized as possible, but it’s usually scattered because I’m consistently thinking of new ways to present Inpuristform to the people” he stated. “I take my personal life experiences and my logic and translate them to my preferred medium, whether that be garments, photography, and various art projects.”

One of his most recent projects earned him some recognition after he snapped a photo of Theophilus London that made GQ’s Grooming God’s segment on Instagram. In this photo seen below, Theophilus lies in bed on his phone sporting pajamas and a face mask. Dion notes that this was a crazy moment for him, but more so because he does not even consider himself a photographer. “I don’t consider myself a photographer, but I take any medium I chose to the highest degree possible.”

Him and Theophilus London have forged a strong relationship this year. They first met while Dion worked at BestBuy but would see each other in the same spots around town. Since then,  Dion has become Theo’s creative consultant while Theo exists as a mentor to Dion. But titles aside, their collaborative work is simply the two feeding off each other’s energy. When discussing the photo that made GQ, he recalls that not much prior preparation went into making this moment come to life. “That photograph I took of Theo was something that was created in the spur of the moment which is why it making GQ was an ill moment for me.”

And at this rate, there will be many more ill moments in Dion’s future. Through patience, Inpuristform has matured and unveiled the many ways we can interpret purity. Dion’s tenacity towards his craft can be attributed to some wise words from his longtime mentor and OG Tremaine Emory: keep going! A simple phrase, yes, but within its simplicity lies the importance of persistence: something Dion wishes he could have told his younger self but wants to communicate to all the young creatives out there.

So now I ask again: what is purity? And hopefully now it is clear that the term cannot be defined, only expressed and experienced. Through expressing purity across different mediums, Inpuristform has the foundation to become a timeless lifestyle brand with similar cultural impact as Chrome Hearts and Polo Ralph Lauren. And while it is only a matter of time before IpF catapults to great success, the brands triumph is not merely what Dion wants to be remembered for. His desired legacy is to be something of a Black Swiss Army Knife: a jack of all trades, but more so a constant reference point for artists following him that will disallow his work to ever fade with time.

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