When Erica Spencer bought a shirt
with the inside label
it wasn't just because she liked the design. She
was buying it to support a cause that inspired her
in her own life. The new clothing label
created by a friend of hers, a former MSU doctoral
student and artist, Michael S. Doherty.
bought a shirt just to support him,
when I found out more about his concept, I bought it
to support a cause.
The label is known as
, and it stands for
DEFine Your own Existence. The root of the label is
focused on promoting the idea for people to find
their own direction in life, no matter how tough.
Life is a struggle,
at a young age when you enter school, and you start
to face the pressures of what to do, who your
friends are, and where you are supposed to be
going. It continues into high school, and follows
us throughout our lives. Pressures are coming at
the younger generation from all avenues...well
meaning parents, teachers, employers, media and
So how does a clothing label help defy these
According to Doherty,
Clothes are important to
young people, and often they wear them to make a
statement. DEFYE is not just about saying
something, it's about saying
inner-self. It's about figuring out what you really
want to do in life and having the strength to go
after it with everything you've got, regardless of
the situation around you. Create your own destiny.
Find your own path, not the one others want you to
Doherty speaks from experience. After graduating
high school, everyone seemed to be preaching
college, real-world, job,
so he decided to get a
degree in architecture. After 5
years and a
$70,000 tab, he found himself in Los Angeles, then
San Diego, working 8-5 jobs behind a computer most
of the day.
I felt my spirit slowly slipping away
to a routine I didn't believe in.
there had to be a lot more to life than this, and a
serious injury encouraged me to finally break free.
After all, who knows what tomorrow holds?
Acknowledging that he still had a lot of unanswered
questions, Doherty left the field and began his
... traveling cross country in an
RV, journeying through Europe with a backpack,
building an orphanage in the Honduran Mountains,
exploring Costa Rica, counseling in prisons and
mental hospitals, and examining life in hostels on
the Hawaiian islands.
The idea for the DEFYE clothing label was born and
based out of L.A. Doherty has been focusing on
marketing it to the young adults who are musicians,
college students, artists, MMA fighters and everyone
who are passionate about defining their own unique
existence in this world. To many in this category,
the label hits home.
They still get it.
Most of them have not lost sight of their
dreams yet, and I want to hit people before they
Ideally, Doherty wants the
label and its concept to spread internationally.
Hopefully, with the success of
able to establish a
Vision Quest Fund
selected students will be awarded the opportunity to
go on 'self-discovery
journeys through this unique
cultures in the past had a specific time in life
when the youth became an adult - a transitional
period where they went out into the elements and
learned about survival and their place within the
bigger picture. Our society has cut out this
transitional stage in the name of capitalism, and I
want to bring it back. We are seeing the negative
affects of frustration and violence without it.
Ultimately, I want to let people know that they are
not alone in their struggles. We all fight for our
own definitions of
. It's okay
to wander a bit and not have your direction
completely planned out. Search, travel, and
challenge yourself and when the world tries to break
you, rise above and DEFYE it.
Doherty is passionate about his beliefs and has been
touring local nightclubs, restaurants, and festivals
to promote his clothing line and concept. The next
Launch Parties will be thrown in Detroit, Grand
Rapids, Fort Wayne & Chicago. The runway show
features a unique collaboration of several artists.
More information on how you can become involved,
order clothing, or offer support can be found at