Dereck at his Birkenhead studio. Photo by Jerome Warburton.
Please introduce yourself. Where do you hail from?
My name is Dereck De Souza. I’m 26, and I’m originally from Santos, Brazil, but I grew up on the North Shore of Auckland.
How did the skateboard journey start for you?
Skateboarding for me started when I lived in Valencia, Spain when I was eleven. I had a coupleof friends at primary who used to skate, and we’d kick it most afternoons at the local plaza. I first started on my friend’s board until my dad got me my first board, for my birthday, a Jamie Thomas Zero. Soon after, I was throwing myself down as many stairs and ramps as I could. A crew of older skaters at my local skatepark took me under their wing and would take me to events and other parks. The skate scene in Spain is sick, so I’m stoked I got to experience it while I lived there. Then, I moved to New Zealand when I was around thirteen. I lived in Riverhead, which is quite isolated, so my skating took a back seat until I got a driver’s licence. That’s when I started to get into other things like design and 3D animation.
Sal flip lien to tail, Tuakau Bowl, South Auckland. Photo by David Read.
When and how did fashion design come into the picture?
Since I started skateboarding, I knew I wanted to have my own brand, but I didn’t start making clothes until my last year of high school. I took sewing classes at school and found it was fun, challenging and rewarding, so I decided to pursue it at university. I got the opportunity to go to Wellington to study, which was awesome to be around like-minded, creative people and amazing skaters.
“I’ve had sewing machines right next to my bed for the longest time”
Photo by Jerome Warburton.
You’ve just launched your eponymous clothing label. What’s the story behind it?
I sadly lost my little cousin Zac in 2022, and that was very confronting for me as I was dealing with my own mental struggles. It really pushed me to do things I truly wanted to do, so I quit my job at Massey University and moved up to Auckland to be closer to my family and start my own studio. I started the brand to produce high-quality pieces by myself with the best quality fabrics and components I could find. Throughout the years, I gathered a lot of different industrial sewing machines that would allow me to make everything I wanted in-house.
I started by creating one-off custom garments and patterns for other brands, but I always wanted to make collections. I also like the idea of having the garments produced locally where possible. So far, every piece has been made in New Zealand. My goal for the brand is to ethically make clothes that embody a story which is interwoven with the experience of the wearer. To do this, I put a lot of care into every detail of the garments.
How has the experience of launching the brand been so far?
It’s been a lot of work but also very creatively rewarding. It’s been great creating relationships with local manufacturers and suppliers who are just as passionate about making clothes and hearing what people think of the pieces. It really brings me a lot of joy when I see people wearing garments I designed, so the process is always worth it.
Backside boneless, Tuakau Bowl, South Auckland. Photo by David Read.
You have a serious collection of sewing machines. What are they all for? How long have you been collecting them? It must be a mission to cart
Yeah, it’s a mission to move them! I’ve had sewing machines right next to my bed for the longest time until I moved into my studio. I started collecting them about seven years ago, always checking Trademe to buy them. They are all industrial machines, so each one does only one function. I have a plain machine, an overlocker to stop the fabric from fraying, a flat felling machine which folds the seam into itself so the inside of the garment looks just as good as it does on the outside, a bar tack machine for reinforcing jeans, a cover seamer for making tees, a waistband machine, a plotter for cutting out patterns, industrial fabric cutter and a bunch of other miscellaneous tools.
Frontside rock and roll, Tuakau Bowl, South Auckland. Photo by David Read.
You’ve been ripping on a skateboard for some time, even doing camps and comps. How do skateboarding and your passion for fashion and the brand work out in day-to-day life?
I feel like skateboarding is a part of me, and fashion is my creative outlet that allows me to express certain ideas which I couldn’t on the board, so they complement each other well. I think that fashion and skateboarding have always been linked to some degree, so I like drawing some inspiration from skateboarding and creating clothes I’d like to skate in. My local BSP is also a minute from my work spot, so I’m often down there skating with the homies.
Photo by Jerome Warburton.
How do people buy your stuff?
First published in Manual #71, November 2023.