The biggest hip-hop brand in Berlin is helmed by an iconoclastic Frenchman named Jaybo, who traveled around the world (Sweden, Senegal, Nigeria) before a lost passport forced him to settle in Berlin's Kreuzberg district, where he spent nights freestyle MCing, DJing, and bombing walls, and days designing club flyers.
In 1994, three punk rock kids from a merchandising company asked him to create a reggae-flavored clothing line that would bridge the gap between punk and hip-hop. Eight printed tees later, Irie Daily–which sports a vector-heavy skate look not unlike DVS or Etnies–was born. Via a poetic email, Jaybo explains that the name means "taking life the easiest way, everyday" and he says he owes Irie Daily's success to Kreuzberg: "It's our hood, where everybody has supported us by buying our clothes and having fun at our parties."
Jaybo (a.k.a. Monk) does more than just design Irie Daily's look; he's also the art director behind street music/culture/fashion mag Style & The Family Tunes, and recently released a compendium of his work, Lord of Mess: My Head Is A Visual Township (softcover; DGV, $55). No better person, then, to explain what Berlin style is about. "You will recognize a real Berliner by their understated, very personal style," he says. "Since the Wall fell, there has been an influx of international artists showing off with bling bling and bullshit, but the real Berlin is a lot of tattoos and punk rocking on one side and Lacoste polos meets bad shoes on the other side!"