Darrell Alston on His Luxury Sneaker and Apparel Brand, Bungee Oblečení

The designer chats about designing shoes in prison and treating footwear like a work of art.

Bungee Oblečení

Bungee Oblečení’s Darrell Alston. Photograph by Matt Zugale

What I make: “High-end sneakers and apparel.”

Before becoming a designer: “I was a teenage rap artist. My manager told me that your clothes should do all the talking for you. I just ran with it.”

How I got started: “I started to sell drugs and was in prison for a long time. I didn’t have a choice but to pick up a piece of paper and a pencil. I thought: Let me try to sketch one of the sneakers I wore when I was home. I had people send me sneaker magazines and business books. By the time I came home, I had a business plan and over 200 sketches.”

About the name: “‘Bungee’ is because I look at my life as being like a bungee cord. And when I started doing trade shows, every independent apparel line had ‘apparel’ on the end of their name. I Google-searched ‘apparel’ in other languages and saw the word oblečení. It’s Czechoslovakian.”

Bungee Oblečení

Bungee Oblečení sneakers. Photograph by Matt Zugale

My inspiration: “I look at everything like it’s a piece of art. I buy a pair of sneakers because I want to put a piece of art on my feet — and that’s how I treat my brand.”

On creating new styles: “Once we get a sample back from our manufacturer, we put it out on social media to get feedback. If I see people are commenting or liking, we put it into production. I used to design whatever I wanted and get it manufactured. Now, I let the people decide what it’s going to be without them realizing they’re deciding for me.”

Where to buy:Bungeebrand.com and at Blue Sole Shoes on Chestnut Street and Gate2-15 on South Street.”

Published as “Comeback Kid” in the August 2021 issue of Philadelphia magazine.