Style Signature: Meet Darrick Leak
You've seen his unique handcrafted bow ties on some of today's hottest stars, including Caleb McLaughlin, Jay Ellis and Charlamagne Tha God.
Darrick Leak believes in letting "your bow tie do the talking." Creator of bespoke bow ties for the everyday man, weddings, or the red carpet, he handcrafts all of his bows for a truly personalized designer experience.
Never having attended school for fashion, he worked for years as a correctional officer while building his business on the side. (Since recently leaving his job to pursue his dream full-time, you've seen his work on the pages of Munaluchi Bride and on the red carpets of the Emmys® & GQ Awards, to name a few.)
In the midst of New York Fashion Week (Men's), I spoke to Darrick about his new groom concierge services, his uniquely inspiring background, our mutual love for creating menswear — especially beautiful details — and never giving up on your dream.
Thank you so much for speaking with us! First, tell us about your brand, D.Leak Bow-Ties.
D.Leak Bow-Ties is a New York-based brand, which began in February 2013, as a small collection of handmade leather bow ties and accessories. Each bow tie is customized for each individual. The process begins with making only one to five of each design. The reason for this is to ensure that each client has their own unique D.Leak experience.
How many times have you gone somewhere and seen someone wearing the same hat, jacket or shirt as you? D.Leak Bow-Ties was created to afford each client the opportunity to express their own individual style. That's why we offer a variety of embossed and genuine python, crocodile, ostrich, lambskin, stingray, paisley, suede, woven leathers and much more. Each tie is designed pre-tied with adjustable leather straps to fit any neck size. We also offer a men's bespoke concierge service for weddings.
Who is the D.Leak Bow-Ties client?
The kind of client that wears D.Leak Bow-Ties is someone who is looking for a unique statement piece — anyone attending a red carpet event or gala. It's the kind of gentleman who wants to be the only one in the room with his bow tie; I would say a distinguished gentleman.
How did you get started?
I started making bow ties in 2012. I was going to a New Year's event and needed a leather pocket square. Since I couldn’t find one, I decided to take an old leather shirt I had and cut the sleeve into a square. The fit was a hit; everyone loved it, and a friend asked If I could make a bow tie to match. At first, I thought, "No, I can’t do that." Then I said, "Hey, why not? I will try." So I went home, took an old tie apart and reconstructed it.
What is your background?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I never went to school for fashion. Instead, I went to school for business. I graduated and became a correctional officer for 10 years. Five of those years, I spent working on my brand (and working my full-time career) until I decided to leave. I then left in November 2016 to follow my passion full-time.
What inspires you & your work?
I love to see people look good. I believe that if you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you will do good.
When I walk into a store, it's often hard to find what I envision in my head. So, I thought, "Why not just make it yourself?" I know what I would want to buy as a consumer, so I figured by creating that, other people may like my vision as well.
What’s your best advice today for your younger self, just starting out?
If I could give advice to anyone looking to become a designer venturing into the fashion world, [it would be to] always be yourself. You could never go wrong being you; however, you can go very wrong trying to be someone you think people will like. The thing is no matter what you do, there is always going to be someone who does not like it.
The second thing I would say is to make sure this is what you want to do. It's not always going to be easy. If you're doing it for the money or the fame, you're already headed for disaster. You have to learn to love this shit. Good, bad and indifferent.
Last I will say is to always make sure you leave your mark. Be distingushed. What makes your work better/different from every other designer? You have to have your niche and be the best damn you.
Who would you love to work with that you haven’t yet?
There is an endless list of people I would like to work with in the future. I can’t name them all, but some of them are: Tom Ford, Nas, Janelle Monae, Dapper Dan, Sean Combs, Ellen [DeGeneres], Pharrell and the list goes on.
Honestly, I appreciate working with the everyday working individual who just wants to look good.
What do you love about working with menswear?
One of the things I do enjoy about working in menswear is most men don't know what they want until you show them. So, it's easier to persuade another guy to follow your lead and trust your judgment. Most men are coming to me because they need an amazing bow tie, but they also need tips on how to wear that amazing bow tie. I feel like I’m able to help someone feel good about themselves and that, to me, is enough to make me feel good.
What is your "style signature?"
One of my signature bow ties is called the "Ford." It's a black velvet tie on the top, with a second layer of leather underneath, finished with a gold leather knot and black Swavorski stones in the center. This tie has been used at many weddings, red carpet events and editorials. I love it, and it's amazing because every component can be changed in color to fit your liking.
What are five fun facts that we may not know about you?
- I love laughing and making everyone around me laugh.
French fries are my favorite food.
- I'm a Virgo.
I love the Winter.
- I couldn't think of a number five — LOL — so let's say number one again!