Verdy is always smiling—in photos and when you meet him. It’s the reason one of his graphics for VK Design, a new project, is a combination of the anarchy symbol and—yup, you guessed it—a yellow smiley face. “It’s a representation of me,” he says. “I like punk culture, but I’m always smiling.” Nothing seems to faze the 32-year-old artist/graphic designer, and even if it did, he’s not letting it get to him. There’s too much to focus on right now. Too much to be proud of. 

Since launching Wasted Youth, a brand and skate team, in 2016 and Girls Don’t Cry a year later, Verdy has become a streetwear phenomenon. On any given day, his releases—T-shirts, keychains, hoodies, and more—draw hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people. He’s worked with everyone from Union Tokyo to Uniqlo and, earlier this year, dropped a highly coveted Girls Don’t Cry x Nike SB collaboration, which is now on the resale market for up to $5,000 (available only in Japan, the sneakers retailed for roughly $98). Even OGs like Undercover’s Jun Takahashi and NIGO®, both of whom have collaborated with Verdy, have given him their stamp of approval—high praise for any designer, new or old. 

Verdy’s clearly got next. But just how far, and how big, does he want to go? 

This past June, he invited us to his studio in Tokyo to talk about all things Girls Don’t Cry, Wasted Youth, and Verdy. Here, he discusses the origins of his brands, what it’s like to work with legends like NIGO® and Takahashi, how he really feels about the resale market, and more. Plus, he teases what’s on deck with Nike.