Real Life Situations: The Allure of FELT

Deep in the entrails of Miami-Dade County, two relatively unknown individuals are working harder and dropping better clothes than most high-end designer brands.

I am by no means a fashion or streetwear guy (writers can’t afford to dress nice, trust me) but I’ve been obsessed with FELT since it first crossed my Twitter feed in 2020 when I saw Da$h wearing some of their stuff. I dug a little deeper and lost my absolute shit when I saw the incense chamber sculpted into a mushroom patch. After that I started noticing the brand on all my favorite artists including Mac Miller, Frank Ocean, and Freddie Gibbs to name a few. I had to know more.

FELT is owned by two guys, Kosta and Louie, who officially founded the company in 2015 in New York before moving back to their hometown of Miami in 2020. They’re basically hell on wheels if the wheels were attached to a Dodge Charger and greased with codeine. Kosta is a self-professed madman and describes Louie as a young Puerto Rican Johnny Depp (though admittedly without the high-level court appearances). They both grew up in Miami. Kosta is a book worm who loves Hunter S. Thompson, Louie can cook better than anyone and can usually be found in a gas station white t-shirt drinking some exotic soda. They also have six beautiful pitbulls between them who I’d easily pick in a fight over most grizzly bears.

“We wanted to start a magazine called Southern Cut, and then inside the magazine, we needed ads. We didn’t really know anybody, so we just made fake ads that said FELT. And then we were like, those are kinda sick,” Kosta said.

The duo has released some truly beautiful work together and have pushed the boundary for what is expected of a streetwear brand by releasing work that isn’t clothing at all. Some of my personal favorites include a couch plastered with butterflies from a collaboration with MEDICOM, an ashtray that says “Jah is my co-pilot,” and an unreleased action figure toy named Abel that looks like he hotwires spaceships in a dystopian future.

Courtesy of FELT

“What Louie and Kosta are doing with felt is a great example of homegrown. Past my personal relationships with each of them to see the way they both channel their separate takes on art and the world into their clothing is incredible.” said Da$h via Twitter DM. “We traveled all over together burning spliffs too from hash from the projects in Paris to the 60 dollar a gram eighths of sativa in Japan. I got some other stories too but those are in the journal of the dark arts gotta kill you if I tell you those…..but if you asking what kinda dudes they are…. SOLID INDIVIDUALS.”

FELT stands for “For Every Living Thing” but originally began as “Fuck Everyone Let’s Terrorize.” The clothes themselves seem to be a smooth blend of those two concepts. Subtle references to psychedelia and graffiti culture become not only palatable to the average consumer but magnetic to all. The classic butterfly sweatsuit, for instance, at first glance looks like something you’d see inside a big box department store but it’s actually a silent head nod to the CIA LSD mind control experiments in Project Monarch and MK Ultra. This is fitting given that Kosta once told me one of his favorite things to do is take acid and try to make himself have a bad trip.

“He’s a sick fuck,” said Don, a close friend and former intern at FELT, referring to Kosta. “He’s probably one of the sickest folks I’ve ever encountered in my life.”

Not only are the clothes cool, but the allure lies in the community Kosta and Louie have created, which goes well beyond the bounds of anything a marketing department could accomplish on their best day. There’s a FELT Discord server with over 1300 people in it and I’ve seen Kosta and Louie in there every day since its inception earlier this year chopping it up with people, organizing movie nights, giving away hundreds of free t-shirts and even running Pokémon battles. It’s worth noting here that no one has even come close to knocking out my Blastoise yet.

I must admit, at first I assumed there had to be some financial incentive for them to be so interactive but if anything the Discord has cost them money because they often buy people’s art just to have it or put it on a shirt. On the flip side of that coin, they’re also not afraid to constructively tell anyone their shit is weak. They have made themselves fully accessible to anyone who appreciates what they do, and the only rule is don’t be weird. They tell everyone in there all the time to pull up to their office and smoke one.

Kosta in full makeup for a FELT photo shoot in which he told his artist to make him look like he got into a fight with Robert DeNiro in 2003.

“All this is for [the] community at the end of the day. Obviously, there’s a monetary aspect, people are making a living off of it. We just wish that somebody would have opened their doors to us back in the day,” said Mac, a close friend of Kosta and Louie’s who spent years helping them out in their New York office. “All the fame, notoriety and money coming in hasn’t changed them because they know very well what it was like to be broke.”

It drives me up a wall when brands collab with other brands solely for the financial incentive with no regard for the art, but FELT does whatever the hell they want because it sounds fun and they do it with style. They recently did a collaboration with Elbo Glass on some plushy and vinyl dinosaurs covered in monarch butterflies that I would be willing to trade a kidney for. They’re constantly ahead of themselves and the curve by focusing on authenticity, art, and fun over monetary gain.

“[Kosta] wasn’t doing this shit to get rich. It was never for the money or about the money. He always said money will burn you out,” Don said. “He says this a lot but clothes just happen to be the medium that he’s working with or that he’s stuck with but he’s truly just a sick individual and a dope ass artist, both of them.”

Every company in America who spends dollars on SEO readability and other useless metrics of capitalism is trying to recreate what Kosta and Louie did off the strength of their own characters. From what they’ve told me and what their friends say about them it’s plain as day that they stayed true to themselves and created their own world where they didn’t have to water themselves down to survive, and everyone who knows them seems to gravitate toward them for that reason. The only thing that seems to matter to them is the strength and authenticity of the work. According to Kosta, their success can be attributed to a perfect storm of hard work, consistency, and luck.

“It was a lot of good luck, and a lot of consistency. And that’s what it’s all about. We’re really consistent with the shit we’re putting out,” Kosta said. “I know a bunch of people that start something and then kind of just stop for a little bit and then pick back up. You never really grow like that. You got to constantly keep fucking pressing buttons.”

I’m still not certain what FELT is. The nearest I can describe it is the sum of many parts, parts without a firm assignment or directive. The concept seems to evolve with time, which is fitting as the E stands for evolving. FELT is a secret handshake, a religion that happens to make clothing, a community of maniacs and a Pokémon gym rolled up into a big beautiful goddamn work of art that somehow makes you a better person. I feel deeply privileged to know these cats in any capacity and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

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