A streetwear line based in Portland, OR, is changing the landscape of opportunities for homeless youth. Through workshops and volunteer mentorships, dfrntpigeon is a line of streetwear that shares powerful messages about identity, and it’s run entirely by marginalized youth, members of the LGBTQ* community, and the residents of Portland’s streets.
The goal of dfrntpigeon is to help harness the creativity of Portland’s energetic street community, which is rich with artists. Along with a host of other obstacles, these intelligent creatives face a lack of opportunities. Allowing these talented people to channel their artistic skills into a statement-making clothing line that they control offers a meaningful education, community empowerment, and most of all, a chance at stability.
For a marginalized and struggling kids who live on the streets of Portland, this could be the first step in a career path. For an artist, it’s an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of an industry that might actually support them. The whole mission of dfrntpigeon is to use the community’s strength to get at-risk youth off of the street and into a safe, self-sufficient life.
dfrntpigeon began as a pilot project, launched by the nonprofit New Avenues for Youth, in a program called INKubator. Volunteers from creative industries mentor and guide members of this collective as they build skills to support themselves. In 2016, the project was finding so much success that they started actually producing a clothing line and selling it to the public.
Last month, in April, dfrntpigeon released their first official collection called Identity. This collection feels like an introduction, or an initial handshake. This line of hand-drawn and cleverly designed tees are the voice of dfrntpigeon, telling us who they are and how they see the world.
The name, dfrntpigeon, refers to that notorious metropolitan street resident – the pigeon. The negative perception of pigeons in urban areas is something that dfrntpigeon can definitely relate to. As the line attempts to redefine the perception of their community, the pigeon is the perfect symbol of their intelligence, tenacity, and relentless survival.
The line is hand printed in Portland by New Avenues INK. The dfrntpigeon store is fully stocked with the dfrntpigeon Identity collection. Each tee is $26, and I don’t think I need to tell you why that price is incredibly justified and fair.
The strange, crazy, ugly ones.
Those who know what it means to
eat, sleep and breathe survival.
Who aren’t defined by the hand
they’ve been dealt.
We are here to show that
struggle made us better, not broken.
We are here to prove that
true beauty is imperfect.
And when it comes to adversity?
We don’t just rise above it,
we take flight.
Read more about dfrntpigeon (& shop!) on their website, dfrntpigeon.com.