Designer, curator, illustrator are some of the titles you can share that describe Storagebased founder and New York native, Denzel Simmons. Born and raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Denzel has established himself within the New York fashion scene as a go-to curator and designer for all things authentically early 90s to late 00s.
Our team met up with Denzel at his studio in the heart of Brookyn to check out what he’s been working on in the past year and what he has been working on for his first ever in-store pop-up at 49 Franklin Street later this week. From rare demo cassettes, early 90s streetwear apparel, hip-hop posters, and deadstock Source magazines, Storagebased has everything and more. We catch up with him and document his use of the Only NY Paint Markers as he prepares the final sketches for the Storage Based x Only NY T-Shirt.
Only NY: Who you are and where are you from?
Denzel: Peace guys, my name is Denzel Simmons (aka Storagebased) and I'm from Brooklyn NY.
Only NY: How has being born and raised in New York influenced your art and also curation of found objects?
Denzel: Rawness! That's the key word for sure. I would say growing up in NYC, everything that I saw and was introduced to was so raw and in your face. No filter, just straight forward but to go along with the rawness was this true essence of beauty. For example, you see project housing and you get this immediate feeling of tough living and people living purely off of survival, but on the other hand of this is the culture, the community, the love that is shared within that community between the people that you couldn't find anywhere else in NYC. There's beauty in everything...Thanks New York!
Only NY: Could you speak conceptually about your design work, and your process in creating?
Denzel: I go off of feeling and what's in front of me. There's literally always some magazines or pictures that are right there in reach and I will look through so many things and read about topics or maybe watch a movie or documentary until something sparks. It's really simply that, nothing is super extravagant with my process. Just taking in the things I see, feel, and putting it out there in a way that speaks to me.
Only NY: Tell us about ‘Storagebased’, how it started, and when you began collecting vintage pieces and accessories?
Denzel: About ten years ago, I wanted to stop looking at the internet and what people filtered us to see and I wanted to go back to print when there was a bit more originality. I started buying Thrasher magazines to look through all the ads and flip them, then Big Brother magazines because their ads were always more raw and never filtered. Naturally, I grew up reading The Source and Vibe magazines and having them around because my parents had subscriptions, so I started rebuying those and scanning ads (mostly streetwear related) that I enjoyed. I'd like to also mention GWARIZM (Gary Warnett) who was my true inspiration to start my page up. Homie made being a nerd cool before it was a "cool" thing or trend to be a nerd or "archiver" about shit. I'd spend hours on his blog. I'd also like to mention skately.com (whatever happened to those guys), @adarchives, and @upnorthtrips from being on game early from Tumblr days. Going back to Gary though, he did it so cool and was the king of knowledge of streetwear. When I started seeing his names in the acknowledgments or intros in Rizzoli books, it immediately changed the whole game for me. Storagebased started off with my first page "Collectors Committee" and then I moved on to create this page. It went from collecting and hunting for rare magazines, ads, and prints to stickers, clothing, toys and more.
Only NY: We’re holding the very first Storage Based pop-up at the Only NY Brooklyn store this Friday. Could you tell the people about what to expect and what they can find there for sale?
Denzel: A ton of rare media and print from Thrasher, Big Brother, Vibe, Source, URB, The Face and more to streetwear and rap promo stickers, sealed hip hop cassettes, vhs,and last but not least a curation of vintage and defunct streetwear labels. Hope to see yall there, Peace!