A few days shy of his 43rd birthday, L.A. native Ben "Baller" Yang gathered friends and family for a January dinner in a converted Mid-City smog check center to celebrate the launch of his upscale contemporary menswear line, an improbable third act in an already improbable career arc that includes stints as a DJ-turned-music executive and a designer of blinged-out jewelry for the likes of Michael Jackson, Kanye West and Tom Cruise, the latter business funded by the sale of an impressive sneaker collection that earned Yang more than $1 million dollars.
"Most people only have one good career," Yang said to his guests. "When I was growing up that's what it was ... you were a mailman or worked for … Kmart, and that was your one career. I was blessed to have two."
The new label, Superism, is as stripped-back and minimal as his diamond-bedazzled If & Co. jewelry was over-the-top. It also happens to be aimed at men in his age range and stage of life.
"My wife was always saying: 'Why are you wearing jeans that are sagging all the time and a white T-shirt? You come out of a Rolls-Royce looking like a … while I'm all dressed up.' ... It was time for me to grow up and dress better."
He said he created the line for the "young CEO, the grown man who maybe doesn't want to wear a suit every day or a regular, plain T-shirt [and is looking for] fresh gear that's in between the polo and the suit."
The debut Resort 2016 season is made up of unadorned casual-luxe streetwear pieces including slim-fitting shorts ($96), chinos ($116), jeans ($165), T-shirts ($90) and long-sleeve button-front shirts ($180) with a slightly elongated torso. ("That's because I'm a Korean with a dad bod," Yang said by way of explanation.)
The collection also includes light outerwear pieces including pullover sweatshirts and hoodies, varsity jackets and car coats.
The men's line, created in
partnership with Huntington Beach-based Publish Brand, is the opening salvo in what Yang hopes will be a full-blown Superism empire.
"We've got future seasons coming up," he said. "We're going to be launching Superism [for] kids. I'm not going at this [halfway], you know what I mean? This is my career for real. I've never done anything small in my life, and I've always, always, always battled uphill."
In January, Superism launched exclusively through e-tailer Revolve Man, and this week it expands to additional select retailers. Visit superism.co for more information.