Link to original article page 17
Jon Twitch After seeing Matthew selling Diazable merch at Oily Rag's first show, my attention was piqued. He didn't disappear quietly after that, so I decided to interview him so I could see what he's about, and whether he's running a sweatshop. Tl;dr he's not. Broke: First, I always start off by asking bands about their name, and I'm going to do the same thing to you about Diazable. Diazable: Thanks for asking about the meaning of our name first. We get asked this all the time. The name is a combination of my best friend’s last name and my last name. We wanted to create a very personal and unique name for our brand. I often heard about brands and/or bands using their own names or rearranging the letters of their names to create a new name. So I tried to emulate that when making our name. My friend’s name is Jaimee Diaz and my name is Matthew Gamble. diaz + a + ble = diazable.
Broke: What is Diazable, as an entity? Diazable: Diazable is a little company started in my oneroom apartment here in Incheon. However, we have another location we operate out of my parents’ house in Texas. The business was officially established last December with my friend Jaimee during a late-night/earlymorning conversation we had. Yes, we are a registered business here in Korea and in the States. When I went to get the business license in Incheon, it was quite terrifying but I got it done. I am proud of myself for doing the registration all on my own. Broke: What is Diazable's brand identity? Diazable: The identity of Diazable is a brand for all the people in the world who love extremely heavy and dark music but love cute things as well. I would be extremely happy to see anyone from any part of the world wearing or using our accessories. As many companies strive to do these days, our brand is inclusive of all people no matter their background. However, what would make me the happiest would be seeing people at hardcore/metal shows with our merch. That is my own personal goal for the brand: to see all the people at concerts wearing our brand.
Broke: Your mission on your website is to "bring people together through our love of cute, black, and metal things." Can you explain why those three things, and how they come together? Diazable: I think sets of three are well-balanced. Never too much or too little. Just right, as Goldilocks says. When I sat down to brainstorm about the brand, I kept thinking “make the brand personal, Matt.” People can connect more with brands when they see it’s genuine and authentic from the creator’s heart. So, I looked in the mirror and thought,“Who am I? What do people see in me? How can I get their attention?” Then, it clicked, and I felt that these are the things everyone associates with me. I am ridiculously cute (this is not up for discussion, and y’all know it’s true lol), I love to wear black, and everyone knows I love metal music. I also like black metal, so I felt like this brand can speak to those who love extreme metal like me.
Broke: What's your most popular product? Diazable: The most popular item would either have to be our Baby Noodle or Cheezy Noodle shirts. I do love Baby Noodle, but the next two I personally like are our black metal logo shirt because it just looks brutal, and the Hatebreed logo rip because I love it when bands make parodies of other bands.
Broke: What is Baby Noodle? Is it supposed to look a little like you? Baby Noodle is me. This was another opportunity for me put my own personal touch on the brand. Let me break down Baby Noodle for you because there are layers to him. The name Noodle is my Korean name, Lim Guksu. Calling him Noodle and putting him in a bowl of noodles is not only cute, but everyone who knows me will instantly recognize I put my Korean touch on the design. He is literally just me but 1000% cuter. He has a hat on because I always wear a black hat. He has tons of tattoos because those are all my tattoos. He has snake bite piercings because I have those piercings.
Broke: Where does Diazable sell its products? Diazable: Our products are distributed throughout a lot of places. We have two web stores (one in Korea, smartstore.naver. com/diazablekr, and one in America, diazable.com). We have our clothes at a few stores here in Korea as well: pohstihs, foe Korea, and flef. We're grateful to everyone who has given our brand a shot at their stores. We also try to sell at any popups that my team or I are offered in Korea and San Antonio, TX. The biggest event we've done so far was the 2022 Furnace Fest in Birmingham, Alabama, this past September. That one was crazy because I flew all the way from Seoul to San Antonio, with layovers in San Francisco and Denver. Then I drove 14 hours with my 69-year-old Korean mother from San Antonio to Birmingham, AL. We did the fest over the weekend, drove back to San Antonio, and I flew back to Korea, all within a week. That was a whirlwind of madness and joy. I also sell a lot of orders through Instagram DMs or just going to Hongdae or cool places like Phillies in HBC and setting up a table to sell our gear. Big shout to all the friends who let me sell at their bars or shows. I appreciate every one of you.
Broke: What makes a good streetwear brand? What's the way forward to success? Diazable: I think what makes a good streetwear brand is heart, or as Koreans say, “jeong.” With the development of fast fashion and trends these days, a lot of brands lack this heart. To quote the band Stick to Your Guns, “we’re what separate the heart from the heartless, so we’ll keep pushing regardless.” A good streetwear brand should be in touch with as many of their customers as possible. The brand should be passionate about their designs. I got this mindset from listening to hardcore music and going to hardcore shows. Hardcore music is a very small music scene. However, the fans and people involved in that scene are so passionate and supportive of the community. I want to emulate that with my brand. I like to say we’d rather have a small loyal fanbase for our brand than have a single popular design and fall off after that. To quote another band, Terror, “I stick tight to my friends.” I just want people who really want to be our friends, collaborators, or fans to stick it out with us through the good and bad. In return, we hope to do the same for them.
Broke: Can you tell me about the making of your products? Do you run a sweatshop somewhere? Diazable: When we first started, all our designs were printed through separate print shops. I was not very hands-on and just gave our designs to a print shop. The shops would print our shirts and send them back. As of this past August, things have changed a little. We still use shops in America to make our clothes since I am not there. However, here in Korea my dear friend Kangto at Merchout Print Shop has been helping me out a lot. I have been helping him out at his shop, and he has been teaching me the ways of screen printing, direct-to-garment printing, and otherprinting styles. So, I have been the person making our shirts in Korea at the moment. It has been exciting and interesting learning a new set of skills.
Broke: Is Diazable just you, or are there more people working for it? Diazable: Diazable is not only me. Diazable would be nowhere near where it’s at without all the people who have helped me on this new journey. So far it's my friend Jaimee and I as the coowners and CEOs of the brand. We have two really good friends in San Antonio named Corey and Marissa (who makes amazing cookies under the name @ bakedbyrizza on Instagram) who have helped so much by doing popups for us when we were unavailable to do them. We've had a few collaborations h e r e a n d t h e r e a s w e l l . A collaboration I was happy to do was with a friend, Nick. He does incredible anime and cartoon artwork, so check him out at @ artofnicklanza on Instagram. We are always looking to do collaborations, so anyone is free to contact us about working together. I’m very happy that the models we've worked with are very close friends of mine. They are my tall and handsome friend Abdi and my former student Juwon. They have been beyond helpful, and we really appreciate them. In a similar vein, Yuliya (@photo_ by_julzzz) and Studio Philo (@studiophilo_kr) have both previously photographed our models and merch. The most notable person that's been photographed with our gear was the NBA player Lonnie Walker, #4 on the Los Angeles Lakers, who took a picture with one of our shirts. If anyone knows a celebrity or content creator who might want to rock our gear, DM us!
Broke: Can you tell me a bit more about yourself? Diazable: I feel like I’ve already said a lot about myself, so I'll squeeze out the relevant details. I was born in Germany but raised in Texas, and I’m half-Black and half-Korean. I graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a BA in Computer Science. I originally wanted to make video games but lost interest when I learned I wasn't that great at coding. I used to visit Korea when I was growing up, and back in 2005, my sister came to Korea to teach English through the EPIK program. I visited her a couple times while she worked as a teacher. I really liked what she was doing here and wanted to do the same when I finished university. Also, I saw moving to Korea as a good opportunity to learn Korean and understand Korean culture even more for my mother. That was back in 2014, so I've been living here about eight and a half years now. For my background in fashion, I wear clothes and have a lot of band shirts (lol). But for real, I made merch for my friends’ band back in the day. I’m literally learning as I go along with this venture of mine.
Broke: I heard you were trying to start a band. Still working on it? Diazable: Oh man, you're not playing around with your research. Yes, I am still working on that. It has always been a dream of mine to play in a hardcore band. I'm still looking for a good drummer and bassist. I have found a few guitarists, and I hope to meet them soon and start spitballing ideas for the band. For now, simply a hardcore band. Later if/when we refine our sound, I can give a more detailed description.