Drink.More.Water is the trendy brand outfitting the New York City music scene
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There's a joke among New York City scenesters that years from now, people will be talking about (and lying about) attending a show at Baby's All Right that featured a lineup of electronic sibling duo Frost Children DJ-ing, Harrison Patrick Smith (aka the Dare) with his indie-rock band Turtlenecked, and pop/rap artist Blaketheman1000. That could very well be true, as all of those acts are on the cusp of blowing up and the culture scene in Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan feels like it's been coming more alive than ever within the past year — with stacked shows and parties every weekend, dozens of must-see new acts, and a certain enthusiasm that feels ready to grasp any moment post-lockdown.
Although, one thing about that show that seems especially unforgettable — like it'll be talked about and remembered far more than what was on the setlist — was the shiny, reflective suit that Blaketheman1000 wore during his set. The piece was a technicolor stunner that paired perfectly with Blake Ortiz and his tongue-in-cheek hip-hop, gleaming off the venue's many flashing stage lights — or, it made you wonder, "Who is this guy," if you weren't already familiar.
[Blaketheman1000 in Drink.More.Water / Photo by Caroline Safran]
The suit came from none other than rising NYC-based brand Drink.More.Water, helmed by 27-year-old designer and creative director Serge Neborak. It's also not the only piece from the brand that's been sported by rising artists, including the likes of fellow New York staples like Alice Longyu Gao and May Rio, as Neborak has been increasingly styling them for events and collaborating on stagewear or events over the past year. In fact, it wouldn't be wrong to say that Drink.More.Water has inadvertently become what designer Christian Joy was to Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs 20 years ago — styling the indie scene one striking, trendy fit at a time.
There's been this really amazing cultural rebirth in downtown Manhattan. I think everyone — New Yorkers, Americans — thought that indie culture died in New York for years and I think COVID really slammed the door shut," says Neborak. "I was just lucky enough to meet them around the time [late summer and fall 2022] that everyone was starting to blow up.
After studying art history and working in fashion PR, the native New Yorker decided to quit, get a job in the service industry, and explore his interest in design, despite not having any formal training. By late 2018, he launched Drink.More.Water with a screen-printed collection, after picking up the craft for fun in college, and eventually enrolled in a design certification program at Parsons School of Design. Since then, Drink.More.Water has launched four collections — and expanded into being far more than fashion lines, diving into everything from nightlife to zines. As Drink.More.Water continues to expand and events on the way, including a New York Fashion Week event and an all-new artist interview series launching this month, AP spoke to Neborak about his history with fashion, inspiration behind the brand, working with musicians, and more.
[Drink.More.Water runway show / Photo by Abi Teixeira]
You've been interested in fashion for a long time, but what do you think you were originally drawn to?
I've always been a hip-hop fan and around the time [I was in college in the early 2010s], hip-hop as a whole started to get into fashion — Kanye launched Yeezy, A$AP Rocky blew up, that's when Virgil Abloh started doing everything. I started to get into streetwear, the whole online menswear culture, like Complex, Four-Pins. I've built my own tastes independently — but it was definitely hip-hop culture embracing fashion that was a huge thing for me originally.
Your designs frequently incorporate prints or words and phrases. What is the inspiration behind the looks?
Each collection, I would come up with a narrative and make a clear, concise story around it.
The first collection was about mental health because that was what I was going through at the time. It was this post-apocalyptic story, but it touched on themes of mental health.
The second season, the theme was, "Do you have hope for the world?" It was a three part collection that was very heavy on prints.
The third collection, which was the first that I was really happy with, was called "Welcome to Fear City," and that was a horror story. That one, a friend of mine, [who is a filmmaker, suggested I make] an art film, so I ended up directing, writing, and casting people to star, which was really fun. We used the clothes in the collection as the costumes for it.
This [most recent] collection was a complete 180 from the horror story. I let myself be a little looser with the narrative because I felt like I was coming into my own as a designer. I wanted the designs to tell a little more of a story, rather than my clearly spelling it out like I've done in the past, [but it was centered around the romantic phrase], "For you, the world."
[Shallowhalo in Drink.More.Water / Photo by Caroline Safran]
Aside from clothing lines, Drink.More.Water also expands into nightlife, events and other creative projects. Was that always the vision for Drink.More.Water to encapsulate so many different things?
Drink.More.Water is my platform to do whatever creatively. It's based around the clothing brand for sure — that is the main thing — but it's an art platform, an event platform. I've done a magazine each season [where I] expand on the concept and invite friends or another artist to give their take on the collection, whether it's poetry, short stories, or visuals. The idea of being able to shift between different mediums is definitely something I'm always interested in, whether that's making a movie [to go along with the collection] or doing more runway shows and getting more experiential, with theater-type stuff.
[There's this brand] called No Vacancy Inn. They have a really interesting concept that is basically like, "No Vacancy Inn is the structure to do whatever we want with it," so sometimes it's clothing, sometimes it's DJ-ing, throwing parties, releasing music — but it's all under this No Vacancy Inn umbrella. I really like that idea of having a brand or a concept that you can use to go in any direction for it.
[Shallowhalo and May Rio in Drink.More.Water / Photo by Caroline Safran]
You've worked with so many different artists. How did that first happen?
I've always loved working with artists from the beginning. The first event that I ever did to launch the brand was this pop-up event in Brooklyn and I got an artist to perform. One of my best friends now is this artist Jean-Luc, who I got introduced to through my girlfriend at the time when I was doing my first runway show, and in 2019 for the second season, he performed. Since then, we've worked on a ton of stuff, I style all of his videos.
A little less than a year ago a friend of mine had gone to a Blaketheman10000 show and was like, "Oh, I went to this really cool artist's show. You should check him out," and I got around to listen to his music and was like, "Yeah, this is exciting." August of last year, Blake was doing a free show in downtown New York, [I went and] introduced myself to him and was like, "We should work together." That opened up a whole world.
Through [Blake], I got introduced to all the people I've worked with. I really have to give all credit to Blake and all of the people that I met through him, [like] Shallow Halo, who I styled when they opened for Alice Glass, [and] May Rio, who I've styled for a couple things and [performed] at our first-ever pop-up last fall.
[Blaketheman1000 in Drink.More.Water / Photo by Caroline Safran]
It was such a moment when Blaketheman1000 wore the mirror suit at Baby's All Right — people couldn't stop talking about it. What is it like seeing your looks on stage?
It's the coolest thing ever. [Blake and I] had been passing back and forth ideas, and I was like, "Look, I have this crazy outfit, the mirror suit. It's going to be horrifically uncomfortable, I'm telling you right now it's like a suit of armor and impossible to move around in, but it's what you need to wear. It's going to be amazing," and he was like, "Fuck it, I'm down."
It's so cool seeing [Drink.More.Water] come to life and meeting people out in the world and hearing that they know about [the brand] and aren't just saying that. I stopped by a store and introduced myself and they were like, " I've heard of Drink.More.Water you styled Blake," and that was the coolest moment of my life.
Whether or not Drink.More.Water works out in the long run, it's really exciting that there is this creative energy back in New York as a whole. I'm from [New York], born and raised, so I've lived here my whole life, aside from college, and I've never seen anything like what's been happening in the last year in the years prior. It's been super exciting to be a part of. I'm still working full time at my bartending job, so it's a lot to juggle and I can't do everything as one person, but I'm just happy to be a part of it and happy to be involved.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.