Founded in 2011, Community 54 has become the essential destination for cultivating personal style through nostalgic apparel mixed with new indie brands. With locations in New York and Toronto, the boutiques are carefully curated with garments and accessories inspired by the urban culture from the early 1980s and 1990s. Established by business partners Daymon Green and Jason Jacobs, the first Community 54 location was built in one of Manhattan's most fashionable neighborhoods, the Lower East Side. The setting and clean presentation of the retail outlet became a favorite among tastemakers and streetwear designers, making it an ideal place for creative minds to meet up and share their vision.

Capitalizing off the success of their New York location, Green and Jacobs opened their second Community 54 in the city of Toronto. Maintaing the nostalgic vibe and format of their NY store, the Toronto retailer has become a popular outlet in the community and a destination that brings the youth of Toronto together for a good cause.

As Community 54 continues to offer ways to transport fashion nostalgia in 2015 and showcase new innovative indie brands, XXL caught up with co-founder Daymon Green to chop it up about the concept behind Community 54, the success of the retailer and some of his favorite hip-hop joints. —Roger Krastz

Photo Credit: Tasha Bleu

XXL: How did the concept for Community 54 come about?
Daymon Green: We found a space first. Fell in love with it and made it our spot to come up with any ideas. Then we solidified that idea at CIBAO over steak sandwiches. The name came about from the help we got building it, from the local business to our friends and fam. And what we put in it came from the reflection of how NYers dress. Vintage mixed with designer labels mixed with found items.

Do you feel responsible for being innovators of the vintage trend?
At Community 54, we go with the things we love and believe in; trends come and go. Our style of mashing vintage and new is on trend and we have had many of the current artists who have helped push this look shop in our stores. We also believe we had a small hand in Ralph Lauren Corp bringing back their Polo Bear collection after years of us pushing our "DaBears" collection.

What do you think attracts customers to both your retail locations?
Custom product, music, art pop-ups and vibes.

Arcade games have been symbolic with the Community 54 shops. What inspired the idea to put these in your locations?
The main inspiration was bringing people together, getting them out from behind their computers and creating a meeting place for today's cultural innovators to hang. Back in the day, arcades were everywhere and with them basically extinct we felt it would be cool to bring that essence back.

What's the process that you go through when picking out clothing brands or vintage apparel that you want to sell in the store?
We do a monthly event called Finale Fridays in both locations on the last Friday of the month. This is an open forum for new brands to get exposure and sell in a retail space. Day to day, we carry our Community 54 collection and our curated vintage collection. We also do pop-ups with respected heritage brands such as our current one with PRPS, denim hand made in Japan.

What's the biggest challenge you faced when trying to open up the store?
Finding my inner architect, playing exterminator, and way too many trips to Home Depot, in that order.

How different is the shopping experience in New York to Toronto?
Each reflects the city that it's in. N.Y. has that "Alphabet City" vibe; a bit grimy, fast and a cast of characters. The Toronto store is more cool, calm, collected and has more of a vintage look with the city of Parkdale as its backdrop.

What do you think sets Community 54 apart from all the other locations that cater to your clientele?
No attitude. Open to everybody from all walks of life and an eclectic feel. Mixing both vintage and new product was revolutionary a few years ago when we first started. Now it's back and we're the champions of it.

A lot of hip-hop artists have shot videos at your location in NYC. Can you tell me who those artists are, and what music videos has the store appeared in?
We've had many notable shoots in both of our retail spaces in NYC and Canada. Artists like A$AP Rocky and his new video coming out soon. Also Chris Brown, Chief Keef, Childish Gambino, Smoke DZA, Soulja Boy, DMX and the list goes on.

A$AP Rocky's upcoming visual "Lord Pretty Flacko Jodeye 2" was shot at your New York location, and from what we hear most of the Mob—including the late visionary A$AP Yams—were at the shoot. Can you tell us about the vibe between Yams and the entire Mob that day?
It was an epic day having the entire Mob in our new Community location. We came full circle from first opening the space with an A$AP Rocky performance on Oct. 30, 2011 to now. Yams was there chilling all day; his energy and spirit were high and he will be missed by his family, crew and NYC.

You also have a clothing brand that's become a staple in streetwear. Tell me about the brand and the aesthetic behind it.
It happened from not finding anything out there that mixed all of the owners' fashion sensibilities. We took cues from our vintage collections, the '90s and popular culture. We take "classic" references and make them current and relevant. We also keep collaborating with heritage brands like Ebbets Field who we recently created a "Local Hooligans" collection with.

As an owner, what's your biggest pet peeve with customers?
Not supporting...by supporting your local boutiques and shops instead of trolling the Internet looking for the cheapest deal. Or mall shoppers.

Do you plan on creating another Community 54 location somewhere in the West Coast?
Yes, that's in the works. We would like to build Community worldwide. But sun and sand wouldn't hurt.

Being owner of the store, what's the biggest misconception that people have about you?
That you're rich. [Laughs]

If you were to make a 7-track EP that could play all day in your stores, what 7 hip-hop tracks, past or present, would you include in your EP?
"Just To Get A Rep" by Gang Starr. "Scenario (Remix)" by A Tribe Called Quest. "Successful" by Drake. "Trap Queen (Remix)" by Fetty Wap and French Montana. "Lord Pretty Flacko Jodeye II" by A$AP Rocky. And Kanye West's "Bound 2" and "Blame Game."

What are the top three brands in streetwear right now?
Magic Stick, ICNY and Ebbets Field Flannels.

Name your favorite artists in hip-hop right now.
Fetty Wap, J. Cole and Future.

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