How Daniel Patrick turned his love of sports, hip-hop and 1990s nostalgia into a brand
When Daniel Patrick arrived in Los Angeles, he had two bags with him and $1,000. It was 2011, and the native Australian was in the City of Angels for two reasons: to see the woman he’d been romancing long-distance, and to start a clothing line.
“I had to buy a return plane ticket because they won’t let you in the country without one,” he said recently. “But I had every intention of staying.”
Everything turned out well. The woman, Jenny, is now his wife and the mother of their two children. She’s also his business partner.
Patrick’s line, which includes elevated hoodies, sweatshirts, track pants, footwear and more, is sold at his shop on Melrose Avenue in addition to being stocked in some of the world’s most influential stores. On the label’s website, danielpatrick.us, are a range of pieces for men and women. New selections include $45 logo socks, $95 sports bras, $200 graphic T-shirts and $700 track jackets.
Patrick’s clothes have gained a celebrity following that includes Justin Bieber, Steve Aoki, Bad Bunny and NBA star James Harden, the latter of whom Patrick has worked with on limited-edition sneakers for sportswear behemoth Adidas. (The two released shoes together with Adidas last year, and they have new merchandise available now.)
In addition to his collaborations with Harden and Adidas, Patrick has also partnered with the throwback athletic brand Starter and, in an unexpected turn, the coffee purveyors at Coffee Manufactory, which has roasting facilities in downtown L.A., San Francisco and Seoul.
On Friday, Patrick released an eight-piece collection of apparel and sneakers — the Harden Vol. 4 X Daniel Patrick sneaker in a fresh colorway — with the sports star and Adidas in time for the NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago. The collection ranges from $75 to $380. In the mix are hoodies, sweatshirts, track pants and gym shorts in sun-faded hues and bleached-out patterns with fluorescent accents.
All of it is a long way — and not just physically — from where Patrick started. Growing up in Sydney, he dreamed of following in his father’s footsteps to become a professional rugby player, going so far as attending a high school that specializes in sports training.
However, fashion was always there, hiding in the background at first. “I liked the aspect of dressing up as something. You know what I mean?” he said.
To that extent, his sporting uniform gave him an early appreciation for the power of clothing — how what you wear instantly conveys who you are. “Like for ice hockey, we had a lot of gear … that was an expensive one for my parents,” Patrick said with a laugh.
Eventually Patrick’s vision for a clothing label usurped his dreams of athletic greatness, and he dropped rugby to attend a local fashion school for a short while to learn the basics of the profession. His original plan was to launch his own label in New York. However, a detour to Los Angeles changed everything.
Although Patrick grew up in another part of the world, the U.S. loomed large in his mind. “I was always into hip-hop and rap music and American culture,” he added.
He was instantly attracted to L.A. “The weather’s nice here,” he said. “There’s that celebrity culture here. In the last five or six years, some of the top men’s streetwear brands are coming out of L.A. So it kind of worked out to be a good choice.”
Along with the influence of early-’90s aesthetics, Patrick’s design work is infused with other touchstones from his adolescence. They range from the outré fashion experiments that David Beckham dabbled in decades ago when he first met Victoria Beckham (which sent tongues wagging and paparazzi cameras flashing) to Sean “Diddy” Combs’ braggadocio, which the musician channeled into his fashion label Sean John.
Patrick’s background on the sports field also served him in several ways. For one, it instilled in him a powerful work ethic.
He also has taken classic sports apparel — nylon warm-up suits, oversized basketball shorts and team jerseys — and updated it with eye-popping neon colors, retro logos or funky riffs on familiar patterns such as camouflage and bleached-out tie-dye.
Patrick’s clothes have a relaxed vibe that’s somewhere between athleisure and streetwear, which might be attractive to L.A.'s creative class. After all, for the last decade formal menswear codes have eroded. In some circles, the suit, the dress shoe and the crisp black T-shirt have largely been replaced by more casual fare, and Daniel Patrick, the brand, encapsulates the new, more laid-back menswear uniform of the moment.
Draped capes, a bouquet of florals and an emphasis on sustainability are among New York Fashion Week’s top takeaways. You’ll likely see versions of these trends in stores and online later this year.
“I’m there on the pulse,” he said when asked about his design process. “It happens a lot where I’ll think, ‘I’m going to do neon,’ and then the next season I see all this neon.”
During a visit last year to his headquarters in downtown’s Fashion District, a classic industrial loft-like space, mannequins were dressed in pieces from the fall 2019 collection, which included slouchy camo cargo pants or outerwear with paneled inserts. “I’ll get an idea about something, and it’s just in the air,” Patrick said. “It’s instinctive to some degree. ”
Patrick founded his brand right around the time Instagram began to gain popularity. He leveraged the platform to make inroads with new, digitally native consumers and has been able to catch the rising tide of streetwear as it continues to sweep through the menswear market.
However, the designer still remembers his tough early years when he was just scraping by, hoping to sell a jacket to make rent. However, he said, he stayed hopeful about the future, in part because of the early support from influential L.A. boutiques H. Lorenzo and Traffic.
Now his brand has gained momentum in the affluent Asian market. One of the associates at Patrick’s Melrose Avenue shop uses the Chinese social media messaging/payment app WeChat to sell clothing to customers there. The designer also said he had been eyeing that market for a possible expansion.
Downstairs from Patrick’s office is where samples are made and the majority of his production takes place. It’s not only convenient to design a piece and have it made just a few feet away, but it also gives the whole enterprise a quaint feel. Amid the whir of machines and piles of freshly made sweatshirts and track pants, Patrick can survey his growing empire.
“I like the idea of Ralph Lauren, how he’s created a lifestyle brand,” Patrick said, listing his goal of having an expanded footwear collection with Adidas, including his own silhouettes, as well as a network of stores in China.
If that sounds somewhat audacious, Patrick said he has to dream big to make it big.
“Like, when I was playing rugby, I wanted to be the best player in the world,” he said. “That’s kind of how a kid thinks, right? That sort of thinking stops a bit when you’re an adult. As an athlete, you know your limitations but you can also work harder than anyone else. It’s ballsy to say, ‘Oh, I want to be a billion-dollar business in five years.’ But if you aim for that, you may not do it in five years, but it could happen in 10 years.
“If you aim low, that’s where you’ll land,” Patrick said. “You’ve got to shoot a little higher, yeah. You’ve got to aim high.”
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