Branding, logos, company colors – we see them everywhere. Some are so commonplace that we recognize them instantly. For Chaim Bellinsky of Adobe Darko, those images become fodder for his clothing designs. His fashions are covered in them — but the familiar logos are not what you perceive at first glance.
Bellinsky pairs popular luxury brand names with recognizable logos and then prints the resulting image repetitively on clothing. “Big, corporate brand names are blasted everywhere all the time; they are in our consciousness,” he says. “We know luxury brands look a certain way — very minimal — and everyday brands look more friendly and accessible. I’m very inspired by contrasts. I like switching up the branding and giving it a completely different context.”
It may not come as a surprise that Bellinsky’s skills are rooted in graphic design, and he creates all of the prints and designs the clothing. He says the endeavor satisfies his aspirations as an artist, a career path he could not find when he moved to Israel from Minnesota at the age of twelve and began attending religious boarding schools. “Art wasn’t prominent or valued there like it is here. I was trying to find a way to express myself,” he says.
Bellinsky came to Denver in 2015 at the age of twenty and began studying graphic design to pursue his creative passion. He says he fell in love with Colorado for its positive energy, which he hopes to emulate in his creations. “I just like looking at the world like it’s all good, despite the difficult things. I think it’s important to keep a positive mindset and look at the brighter side,” he says.
Bellinsky has become a popular personality in the local fashion scene, getting to know people by modeling in shows. “I like meeting people and talking about fashion!” he declares. Earlier this year, he did a pop-up shop at Fashion West and then debuted his clothing at Denver Fashion Week, which helped to establish him as a serious designer. By the time he showed at Fashion West in the summer, his models were met with a loud roar from the crowd. At that show, he offered loose -fitting clothes consisting of leggings and short-sleeved tees covered in his repetitive patterns of swapped brands. He layered on maximalism by print-mixing and using toy-like charms on belts and shoes, which was a hit with the audience.
He’s now gearing up for his first show for Latin Fashion Week Colorado on Friday, September 23. As an Israeli-American, he’s excited about the opportunity to be part of a show that strives for diversity. “Given my background, I always want to support the community, and that means everyone,” he says. “I appreciate people that come in and want to make an impact. It’s very cool how they bring in all these designers from Latin America. I want to give that love back and represent the Denver fashion community.”
For this show, Bellinsky is planning an entire menswear collection. “I did all women at Fashion West. It’s important to me that I make clothes for both men and women. It’s an opportunity for me to present in another way,” he explains.
Bellinsky is also weaving footwear into the Adobe Darko brand, using Crocs shoes as a canvas for attaching interesting shoe charms such as game pieces and LEGOs that can be built into whatever the wearer wants. “I like that Crocs are based in Colorado and they seem supportive of artists and doing collaborations. The look of their shoes just fits in with my brand,” he says, adding that he plans to branch out into other customizable shoe options in the future.
It’s clear that pop culture and pop art are major influences on Bellinsky’s work. He cites Andy Warhol as a major inspiration, and it’s not hard to see the parallels between Warhol’s use of product branding and the Adobe Darko prints.
But did Bellinsky get permission from the brands to use their logos? “I do not have permission,” he says, stating no cease-and-desist letters have come in yet. “I’m not trying to be those brands; I’ m doing my own thing,” he affirms.
But he has run into some obstacles: Screen-printing shops often don’t want to take on the liability of using a brand image without permission. “It’s happened several times now,” he admits. So he looks for new ways to print his clothing and imagery.
Bellinsky says he’s not planning to go into large-scale production with his clothes. Like an art piece, many of his garments are one-of-a-kind and can’t be replicated. “Mass manufacturing is not something I’m trying to do,” he says. “I just want to get my designs in front of people and have them engage with them.” For now, he’s happy doing small batches and exclusive lines that can’t be re-created beyond the limited- edition runs.
For Adobe Darko, Bellinsky believes fashion is an artistic expression of what the artist is feeling, and it’s up to the person viewing it to interpret the meaning. “When I create a fashion show experience, dress somebody in my clothing and curate the music and presentation, it’s a way to let people in,” he says. “I’m very inspired by the intersection of design and fashion and how they can tell a story, and the power that fashion has in that way.”
Adobe Darko, Latin Fashion Week Colorado, 6 pm Friday, September 23, Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, 7711 East Academy Boulevard. Find tickets, $35-$150, and more information at latinfashionweekcolorado.com.