Poster stretches, fidgeting in his chair and clumsily folding his feet in murdered-out Nikes. His skin and shaved head are a sweet, sticky caramel with a wide smile that stretches in repose from ear to ear.
I don’t know whether it’s the blunt he’s passing back and forth or if I’m sitting in front of one of the most grounded kids east of Essex, but I’ve somehow found myself in the thick, cloudy throes of one of those too-late, too-stoned existential investigations. I can see the wheels spinning and each word that comes out of Poster’s mouth is coated in genuine—the moments of profundity at his fingertips.
The 23-year old, née Derek Drummond, moved to New York four years ago from the Jersey Shore and hasn’t looked back since. “Where I come from, most people never leave. I’m the only nigga, ” he backtracks, “I’m the only kid that ever left.” You’d never know that he wasn’t a native New Yorker—he navigates downtown Manhattan with the ease of a local celebrity, an undeniable star-quality that surely didn’t hurt in securing his spot on Fuse TV’s reality show about the city. You might know him from ‘The 212,’ or maybe you’ve seen his face in campaigns for GCDS, MCM Worldwide, and Adidas Originals. Though the show has since wrapped and his modeling career is on a steady uphill climb, I’ve got a feeling that this is only the beginning for Poster Boy.
We’re sitting downstairs in the small, but cozy basement of Homies Wonderland, a pseudo ‘underground’ street/skate/specialty shop on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and something of a haven for the kind of cool, creative lost souls that founder Frank Kunert takes in and mentors. The spot is no minor detail in Poster’s story. It’s the place where three years ago he was cast in one of his first photo shoots, the place where he met his wife Milk, and where they would develop the first prototypes for their line of hoodies, Milk&Poster. “This place put us on, in a way,” he says with all the humility of someone feeling the immediate repercussion of gratitude. ‘Homies’ as it’s thrown around on the block has become kind of a second home for him, the epicenter of the energy.
Growing up in New Jersey, one would think that the glittering city lights shone just across state lines. “We’d be seeing these kids, like, making money, living their art dreams, throwing these cool ass events,” he says. “And they’re like our age. Like what are we doing here? We need to get the fuck out and go to the city.” At 14, Poster had already made up his mind about what interested him: music. And though he’d lock himself in his room, writing verses and flexing the beginnings of his creative muscles, visions of city life were always glassy-eyed daydreams. When he finally made the move (after deciding he wouldn’t follow his family’s footsteps in the army, opting instead for a construction job close to home after his mom fell sick with breast cancer) he moved in with his grandma in East New York, a far-out suburb in Brooklyn’s expanse. Still, the city felt at arm’s length; close, but not quite there.
And so the hustle game began. He ended up one day at Homies, was asked to model for them and spent every day since in their narrow white storefront. Going out, going to parties, making friends—which felt “kinda like kindergarten”—every day brought him closer to what he was learning what he wanted. And yet, that three-hour subway ride back home to East New York was too much distance. “Eventually, I moved out of my grandma’s and I was just staying anywhere to be close to where the energy was. You know, you leave searching for energy and then when you find it, you don’t wanna be away from it.” He began crashing with friends, acquaintances, wherever he could, to stay as close as possible to the wild, gyrating soul of the downtown scene.
I gather that ‘finesse’ is a keyword in Poster’s vocabulary; but not in the skeevy, manipulative definition. Subsequently lacking are ‘quick’ and ‘easy’ and the one time he mentions success he is fast to disregard the traditional influence of the word. For so many kids in his position, chasing dreams means chasing bills—a vision that can be sad and shallow and drowned in capitalism. But it’s not Poster’s. “It has to be bigger than the money. It has to be bigger than all that shit. Like how do you want your brand to affect the world?” He perks up and his voice skips decibels with unstoppable momentum. “It’s not just some bullshit hoodie to sell on a fucking hanger. Right now the hoodies are branding the [Milk&Poster] logo; showing people the logo, getting people used to the logo, so they’ll eventually look more into the company to see what it really is about.”
And what is it about?
“We want to build it in a way that it’s almost like a charity—a charity of information. We want to set it up where we could go to schools and really educate people on the path that we’ve chosen, and not just keep the information that we are learning to ourselves.” It’s quite an articulate manifesto for a kid that’s only 23, and for a brand whose current image depicts an edgier and more adventurous creative community. A quick scroll down their Instagram and you’re instantly inside the hyper-saturated, vibey alternative realm that they thrive within, full of friends, friends of friends, and supporters of the brand since day one. Poster may be young, but he’s absorbed every single opportunity that he’s been given with enterprise and interest and an appreciation that runs really fucking deep. It shows in his willingness to share and to give others the tools to make it; a profound altruism that few in this city are blessed with. Though buttoned up and matter-of-fact as it may seem, Milk&Poster still runs on fire. “We wanna make like a movement of minds just coming together instead of everyone being so separated. We could fuckin’ start a revolution in this bitch.”
The movement will always be a part of Poster’s essence, especially in his personal style. He reps brands that he likes, and brands that like him, with a haphazard insouciance that just seems to work. He’s a Jersey boy at heart, meaning it was never about the outfit, but the sneakers on your feet, so his sneaker collection is vast. When he was in high school, he got into thrifting. “But then I came out here, I think where I really evolved my style was when I started working with brands myself. We just kind of like took aesthetics from each other.” Exposure to other brands, styles, and personalities gave Poster a palette. “We plucked the fuck up in the city, just immersing ourselves into the little cultures and niches we were finding.”
“That shit was hard, you know. The Lower is crazy, and a lot of us think we’re just rock stars and shit. We definitely have been lost in the city and found ourselves in the city.” Mention of ‘The Lower’—which I’ve never heard anyone call it this before—snaps me back into a reality where I feel very uncool and behind the times despite our only 3-year age gap. But it’s not really a downtown vernacular that sets us apart, it’s his ambition that places him miles ahead. In March, he and Milk are planning two pop-ups in Seoul for their brand, working with creatives all over the world. And, of course, bringing it back home to the 212, “get the city jumpin’, you know.”
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