DEFYE : DEFine Your Own Existence
Fashion Article Posted July 21, 2008 

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When Erica Spencer bought a shirt with the inside label DEFYE, 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 DEFYE was created by a friend of hers, a former MSU doctoral student and artist, Michael S. Doherty.  I would ve bought a shirt just to support him, she said, but when I found out more about his concept, I bought it to support a cause.

The label is known as DEFYE , 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, explains Doherty.  It begins 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 peers.

So how does a clothing label help defy these pressures?

According to Doherty, Clothes are important to young people, and often they wear them to make a statement.  DEFYE is not just about saying NO to something, it's about saying YES to your 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 take.

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. He said.  I knew 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 'self-exploration ... 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.   He said.  Most of them have not lost sight of their dreams yet, and I want to hit people before they completely surrender.   Ideally, Doherty wants the label and its concept to spread internationally.

Hopefully, with the success of DEFYE , I ll be able to establish a Vision Quest Fund , where selected students will be awarded the opportunity to go on 'self-discovery journeys through this unique scholarship program.   Doherty continued.  Many 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.   He said. 

Ultimately, I want to let people know that they are not alone in their struggles.  We all fight for our own definitions of truth and reality .  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 

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a fashion designer?

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