Kurtis is the manager and buyer at our boutique on Fairfax. He’s been with DOPE since 2011 and can regularly be seen at the shop handling business and chasing toddlers away from the Proust chair. We wanted our first Meet the Crew post to feature Kurtis because he has been on the front line since our days in the Midwest. We pulled Kurtis away from the shop floor for a few minutes to hear about his journey to Fairfax and his history with DOPE.
How did you get involved with DOPE?
I found out about DOPE from a friend. The DOPE boutique in Bloomington, Indiana was consigning sneakers and I am a huge sneaker head so I went to the shop to check out what they had. I originally went there for the sneakers but I ended up seeing the clothing and I fucked with it, so I became friendly with some of the employees that were working there at the time. I continued to shop at DOPE and Matte was always on the floor so I kind of built a customer relationship with him just because he always saw me around the shop.
A bit later I graduated and actually started working in a different industry for a year. I reached out to Matte because I wasn’t happy with that job, it wasn’t something I was passionate about. He didn’t have anything for me at the time but we kept in contact. A couple months had gone by and I was still looking for a different job. Matte eventually called me up and just said, “come out to the shop.” I had a one-day trial where I worked at the Bloomington boutique and things went well so I stuck around.
Do you remember the first piece that you bought from DOPE?
I do, it was actually the FAME tee written in pills, that was the first one I got. I remember the first shirt that I was really fiending over though, was the “Smoke Me I’m DOPE” tee that Jay wore in concert. The first time I saw that I was like, “I gotta have that shirt,” and that’s actually how I got in closer with the shop. The boutique had the shirt, had two saved in the back, after it sold out. I knew they were back there, so I kept nagging Matte to let me buy one of them. We were going back and forth for a while, but eventually I got one of the last two shirts. I still have it too.
Let’s talk about your unique position; you have worked in every DOPE boutique. Walk us through that journey and each spot along the way:
The Bloomington boutique, I wasn’t there very long before Matte moved out to LA and we had a boutique in both Bloomington and LA for the year. Holding it down in Bloomington for that year was good, it was good to keep the brand where it started because there weren’t any shops where you could get streetwear. Before DOPE, you had to go the mall and shop at big box stores but they never offered the real ill streetwear pieces that you wanted.
In the summer we went to Indianapolis and had a pop-up shop, we did that for about three months. We were one of the few streetwear shops in the city so we brought in local DJs every Friday and just did what we could to support the local scene like we did in Bloomington. It was a cool setup.
Once summer ended, we decided to focus on the Fairfax boutique. I didn’t really know what was next for me until I got the call from Matte to pack up and come to LA. I actually drove out in a U-Haul. I loaded the entire pop-up shop and my apartment in the same U-Haul and drove 30 hours across the country.
Tell us a little about the growth of the boutique since you came out to LA:
When we first opened up, the space wasn’t as large as it is now. A year ago we closed for three months and remodeled, basically doubling the space, so I think that really opened it up. People like this layout even more than the last because it is like a destination. When people come to the shop they want to take pictures of the chair, they want to feel like they are a part of what we are doing.
You mention the Proust chair. The chair has become synonymous with DOPE Fairfax, any stories?
Kids, kids try to get up on the chair. They just want to sit in a colorful chair; they’re attracted to it. I just watch their eyes get big when they look at it and they look at me and I know, I already know what is going to happen. They just run up and I don’t want to be rude because that’s someone’s child, but at the same time it’s like, “back your little ass up.”
What is your favorite piece at DOPE Fairfax right now:
From our summer line I fuck with the Basquiat tee pretty heavy, I like Basquiat. I love his art, my hair even kind of looks a little bit like his. I really just like that piece.
Most of my stuff is pretty black, so I also like to layer a DOPE jersey over a DOPE hoodie with some black jeans and a fresh pair of kicks and a DOPE hat and rock it like that. I think anything athletic inspired that we come out with, that’s an easy must-cop for me.
I’m excited for everything that we have planned for the future. Not just for the brand and the clothes, but also for the relationships we have built with everyone working at the shop. The entire squad can just eat together and be a family. I’m excited about that.