“Art Dad,” cultural provocateur and creative consultant are just some of the terms used to describe Tremaine Emory, AKA Denim Tears. In addition to having his own Denim Tears label, the artist is one half of the brand collective No Vacancy Inn, a creative incubator that meets at the intersection of music, fashion and nightlife—a perfect mix of Emory’s life before fame. His career started at Marc Jacobs before traversing industries and providing consultancy services for large corporations, hotels and independent brands. Since then, he’s released podcasts, worked with some of the biggest names in the industry and became friends with A-listers including fashion mogul Virgil Abloh and rapper Kanye West.
Emory’s first Denim Tears collection, released in 2019 on the 400th anniversary of the day slavery began in the U.S., told the story of American cotton and its foundation in slavery. A year later, Levi’s collaborated with the designer to bring the story to the masses with a four-piece capsule collection featuring a vintage denim Trucker jacket and jeans updated with an all-over screen print of white cotton wreaths, a “plantation hat” and digitally printed T-shirts. Coinciding with the collection was a short-form video exploring Emory’s family’s experience growing up in the South during segregation post-slavery.
The collection’s success inspired the duo to form a two-year partnership that will continue its tradition of storytelling and elevating Black voices in denim.