444 The People, the Virginia-based streetwear label, comes from humble beginnings. It started off with a few designs and T-shirts, now morphed into a full-fledged clothing collection recognized by locals within the underground fashion scene. As the 444 The People name grows larger throughout the city, so does the community it’s fostered, tapping into every aspect of streetwear.
Founded by Khai Smith in 2016, the label was born out of a passion for luxury and streetwear, and aims to bridge the gap between the two through quality design and composition. The brand specializes in varsity jackets and fitted caps with a range of graphic T-shirts, all plastered with the company name and slogan, “444,” a name that represents your guardian angels watching you at all times. After putting out a surefire Fall/Winter ’21 capsule, Khai aims to level up even more this year so his story can reach even more people around the world.
For our latest interview, 444 The People founder Khai Smith speaks with us in regards to his fashion influences, Virginia upbringing, and focus for the new year. Check it out below.
The brand was established in Virginia but how long has the idea of 444 The People been in your head before you brought it into fruition?
So my clothing brand was originally founded in 2016, my senior year of high school, it started out as “undefined” which I still use today but shorted to “UNDFND!” But, in 2017 I stopped because I had a lot going on in my personal life they really prohibited me from following my life’s passion completely. So soon as I was able to get out of my slump it didn’t hesitate to follow my calling and that’s where 444 The People came. I always felt like I was being guided by something because I constantly just go with the flow and things just happen to work out and 444 represents your guardian angels watching you at all times.
In the past, you’ve stated that the label was created as a blend of luxury and streetwear. Who were some of your fashion influences growing up as a youth?
Kanye West first and foremost! I would literally google search his outfits, save them to my phone and copy him the best I could. He’s one of the main reasons for even starting a brand, as cliché as that sounds. Shoot, even my IG name used to be @raisedyeezy. He will always be my go-to guy when it comes to anything fashionable. He consistently stays five years ahead of everyone. Another one would be A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti! They influenced my whole “sad boy” phase! That’s when I really pushed the limit with how I dress and when I taught myself how to sew!
Each capsule is of course tailored to mesh well with one another-how do you go about your selection process?
Honestly I just select what I like best! I try to design something every single day, and my brand has meaning behind everything so it all naturally meshes without me having to force anything at all!
How have you and your brand navigated everything in the past year or so? What were some of the biggest challenges you faced and what were some of the biggest lessons you learned?
Man 2021 was a rough one! Especially because I’m technically fresh in the game. One of the biggest challenges honestly is making a name for myself. Although I consider my brand is the best in VA, marketing is gonna be a major key in this new year! My biggest lesson learned is that people love the hype and although I want to build my brand organically, I still need a form of hype if I want to go far!
Angel numbers seemingly play a part in the brand name, what does it mean to you?
I love what they represent. They keep me centered honestly, running a brand isn’t easy, so whenever I see them it just lets me know I’m doing the right thing in life.
How would you describe the position 444 The People is in right now and your focus for the new year?
It’s in an excellent position, especially with it being my first year still, It has so much potential it’s crazy. Like I said earlier, I consider myself top five in VA for sure, so as long as I stay consistent then it’s a wrap! My focus for 2022 is my social media content, we’re at an all-time high for content consumption so I have to take advantage of that 100%. I know how fire my brand is so soon as I get that one viral video, it’s over!
What can we expect from you next?
Fashion shows hopefully, more pop-ups, better photoshoots, and more designing! I want my stuff to be featured on TV shows and commercials, all that!
Elsewhere in streetwear, check out our interview with women’s streetwear label FFITH.