Our second collection was a challenge, but we are determined to finish the task by any means necessary. After completing the production phase, DEADEND began planning for a look-book and campaign shoot. Before the pandemic, we planned to upgrade our brand through a famous studio in Saigon. Unfortunately, our destiny has tied us with our brand name, and we soon reached a DEADEND.
With no financial support for the campaign, we had to utilize our rusty office place as a shooting space. In the middle of our search for a model, Long, a promising skater and a famous debt collector came to collect the money we owed him. Since all the money went pouring into product production, we had to make a promise to Long where when we finish selling our second collection, the debt would be paid. He was furious, but what other choice did we have when we had nothing to give. Knowing we were struggling to find a model, Long volunteered himself in order to speed up the process so he could have his money back ASAP.
Fast forward to shooting day, Long showed up, donning a sharp clean cut, just the right look for the outlaws.
DEADEND’s office is located on an apartment top floor in the heart of District 5, built during the American War. Panting real hard as he reached the 4th floor, Long greeted everyone and he then retrieved into our office, and since there wasn’t any changing room, Long had to change in the corner of our space. Giving him a peek, my jaw dropped when I caught sight of a tiger tattoo on his left stomach.
“OH SHIT, TRIAD”, I talked under my breath. Knowing that he had tattoos, the stake for our debts were raised even higher. Catching my cunning look, Long calmly said: “Mind your own business and stop peeking at me. This tiger is vegetarian, he won’t bite.”
Usually, we find shooting male models bland, when it comes to them we just shoot and go, but with Long, we were more gentle, careful and treated him with the utmost care, giving him the freedom to pose and do whatever he wants, this was why he looked as stiff as a tree in all of his photos.
DEADEND’s second collection has a total of 10 products, including 2 shirts, 1 jacket, 4 pants, 2 shorts, and a grenade vest. At first, I wasn’t sure why Chief of Design Le Minh would consider creating a grenade vest…and after countless questions, he simply replied: “These are made for those who like to throw grenades.” (A Vietnamese phrase for blabbering bullshit). I still don’t get it, nowadays playing firecrackers is impossible let alone with grenades. But then it hit me, that amongst us, our Chief of Design, Le Minh had “bullshit-ed” more than the rest of us combined, where I’m certain that his design, is meant for people like him.
Getting back with the shoot where it was noon, Long was standing outside the yard, putting on one outfit after another for us. Fast forward to the shorts outfit, I noticed numerous scars on his leg. He proudly announced himself that those are the proud marks of his skating days. Despite having a deep connection with the streets, Long has a very virtuous face. If he wasn’t from Hai Phong and my loaner, I would still have a lot of respect for him. Not to mention the mole in the center of his forehead telling me not to mess with him, just in case I wasn’t disrespecting a possible reincarnation of the Bodhisattva himself.
Throughout the shoot session, Long was completely focused on work, so we quickly swept through the looks, because they fit as if they were made just for him. Everything was running smoothly until we handed him the Sorrow Tiger Jacket, that’s when Long hesitated. He then examined the jacket for a while and says: “This is nice. My dad’s zodiac is Tiger, I tattooed this tiger as a tribute for my dad, how about you give my dad this jacket as a gift?” without acknowledging our responses, he continued to show off his 3 eyes goat tattoo on his left leg: “I’m not into Satanism or anything, my mom’s zodiac is a goat, this is a tribute for her as well.” I was relieved. Relieved knowing DEADEND doesn’t have any product that has a goat on it.