When Caesy Oney isn't hard at work in a secret lab creating the next thing big thing for Converse, he is working on his own brands, Draught Dry Goods and Odd Fellow Company. The mantra of Draught Dry Goods is “seeking maximum pleasure through permanent vacation,” and for Oney, there is no greater pleasure than working hard to create this exact vision for clothing and accessories. We sat down with Oney at his studio overlooking Downtown Portland to discuss not just hard work and fashion design, but also the importance of style and grooming habits in conveying one’s personal ethos. We did not, however, manage to find out his secret weekend brunch spot.
What do you do when you wake up in the morning?
When I wake up in the morning, I usually make myself some coffee, or walk my dogs to some coffee, or I put together some kind of plan to get some coffee. Then might have a little bite and get in my car and go out to Nike. I work in the [Nike] Innovation Kitchen as a concept creator for Converse, so I make stuff out there during the day.
What kind of stuff do you make?
I make garments and sneakers and bags—usually from pattern to construction—and I also do rapid prototyping of footwear for various other things. That’s about all I can really share about that.
Do you think your strong sense of personal style has gotten you where you are today?
I only make things that I think are interesting or beautiful or useful. All of those things are informed by my personal style just naturally. So yeah, totally.
How do you dress for work?
I pretty much always wear the same things. So I’ll put on some Converse sneakers or Nike sneakers and go out to work, and then some denim that I like. I like the clothes that I make for myself, and I like lots of other clothes, but my stuff gets super ragged and beat up every couple of weeks just by the nature of what I do. Everything is covered in glue or some chemical. So I have to take that into consideration—that it’s going to get messed up. So usually it doesn’t matter; just something comfortable.
What can you tell us about your grooming habits?
My daily routine includes combing my hair, brushing my teeth, baby powder to keep my skin feeling godly, and I wear a nice fragrance from D.S. & Durga, who are the homies out in Brooklyn. I shave my face once a day and wash my hair like once a week. That’s the only real grooming that I do. I feel a need to be clean shaven because it is better than the alternative. [Laughs] If I grew out my facial hair I'd get a big, bushy moustache and scruffy everything else. Nobody wants to look at that.
What are your style essentials?
Black denim and a black top, and usually a black jacket or a jacket that I’ve designed. I have so many jackets in the studio; there’s all different kids of jackets now. Then a black bag and boots when I’m not wearing sneakers. Like most people, I have a moment where you get your outfit on, look in the mirror, and sort of give yourself that look of 'We’re going to do good today and we’re going to make cool things.' And then I probably walk out the door that day feeling pretty good.
You technically have three jobs, so can you break down all it is that you do?
I spoke about my job at Converse out at Nike. For Draught Dry Goods, I’m the Creative Director and Production Manager; it’s my whole project, like my total creative output. Odd Fellow Company is a partnership with a local manufacturer here in town where I can just run the creative direction and do the product design and then I have a business partner who can manage the production side of it, which is nice for me.
How do you split your ideas between the three?
Each project is pretty different so splitting the ideas just comes naturally. What I really do all day is make stuff and design stuff and photograph stuff. It’s not terrible. It’s certainly a lot of work but it’s so great that I can do all of those things all of the time. Splitting them up is just the nature of the situation. I have a cool schedule. I’ve really worked it out. And I think I have Converse’s support to run my brands. Which is kind of a big part of my job. It’s cool, it’s easy.
It seems like you just make varsity jackets. Do you make other kinds of jackets?
Just variations on that jacket. Odd Fellow Company is a partnership with Aaron Settlemier. He owns a jacket factory here in town so we have been working together for a couple of years now.
How did that come about?
I made a jacket for Draught up there before OFC started, then we just had a conversation about it and built it out. We had 'Pizza Friday' here in my studio to do all the branding and took it to market last year, and now it just runs as a private label and collaboration piece until it can be a collection. It's a collection on its own but it needs to be filled out a little bit with bags and some other stuff. So yeah, I make just variations of the varsity jacket right now and then cut and sew crews and tees and stuff in-house.
Do you make everything for Draught Dry Goods?
I’ve made everything except for a pair of boots for this new collection with New England Outerwear. So those are made over in New England and the jackets are made here in Portland at the OFC factory. Sometimes I do notebooks with Publication Studio. Those are made in town. I did an ashtray with my friend Liam, who runs a line called Potter’s Field Ceramics. So yeah, I make everything unless it’s a special project or it’s a jacket.
So if people order from Draught Dry Goods, your hands have been on everything?
Yeah, if they can manage to buy something then I’m making it. If it’s a bag for sure and it’s been that way for four years. I do everything: design it, make it, take photographs of it, put together my line sheet, and then deal with all my doors and deal with customers. I always deal with customers. I ship it. I make the stuff for my doors too. It’s a lot of stuff but it’s cool.
What makes Portland a good place for you to do what you are doing?
I went to college here and all my best friends are here-—I rent this space for like nothing. It’s relatively cheap to travel from, and my whole community is here. This is the best place for me to be and still travel to L.A. and New York and do what I need to do.