Discount Dogs

This heart beats in another city now. New York City, actually. Gone is the comfort of Kansas City, where it takes 15 minutes to get anywhere, where you don’t need a proper coat on wintry nights because you’re outside for just a couple of minutes anyway, and where no one’s a stranger at the bars you haunt.

I could do without the coat-and-scarf business, but I fancy New York’s anonymity. And the subways. The other day, while hopping on the N train, I spotted a defaced Target ad. It was for a new line of clothes designed by Keanan Duffty, inspired by David Bowie‘s style in the ’70s and called, simply, “Bowie by Keanan Duffty.” On the subway poster, the fresh-faced, copper-haired boy model wore skinny black pants and a visible attitude. Some disgruntled subway rider (and possible ex-Bowie fan) scrawled “yuppie scum” above the model’s smug rocker face.

Well, now, that’s a little harsh, don’tcha think?

Harley Sears sure thinks so.

“I’m shocked! The model was absolutely adorable, and the clothes are amazing,” he says upon hearing the story.

The 30-year-old Kansas Citian counts journalism, photography, filmmaking and music management among his professions (busy guy). For now, he oversees just two acts — local fashion band the Abracadabras and New Mexico’s Dirty Novels — but he has hush-hush plans to do business with a national group in the near future.

While wearing his moviemaker hat, Sears interviewed Duffty, the British clothing designer cum rock star, about the Bowie clothing line he created for Target. Sears’ video was used in Target’s promotional push.

“Bowie by Keanan Duffty,” a promotional video by Harley Sears:

The two met last spring at Joey Ramone‘s memorial birthday fundraiser in New York. Introduced by a mutual friend, the Irish rock publicist, B.P. Fallon (Led Zeppelin, T. Rex), the two hit it off and agreed to work on the campaign short film.

Duffty has dressed everybody from Sarah Jessica Parker to the Sex Pistols. When not making clothes, he fronts Slinky Vagabond, an all-star band featuring Glenn Matlock of the Pistols, Clem Burke of Blondie and Earl Slick, who toured with Bowie after the Diamond Dogs, Young Americans and Station to Station albums.

Duffty created the collection relying on both Bowie’s music and aesthetic.

“His inspiration was indelibly present right from the beginning of the design process,” Duffty tells me over the phone. “I’m a huge fan, so it was kind of second nature for me.”

Skinny black pants are paired with crisp, tailored, white button-ups and puffy vests; trench coats inspired by Bowie’s first film, The Man Who Fell to Earth, blazers and graphic tees are all tastefully accented with Bowie’s Stardust-era lightning Z.

Some fans (and subwaygoers) might question Bowie’s motives in lending his name to a major retail chain. The artist and icon is one of the most business-savvy musicians in the trade, though. It’s no accident that he has remained relevant this long. Duffty, who has designed clothing lines for Target in the past, isn’t trying to exploit Bowie. He’s simply offering a higher-end collection for fashion-conscious men who can’t afford his label, which is something that many top designers do for Target.

Women are already hip to Tar-jay fashions. Threads from contemporary tastemakers such as Erin Fetherston or Prouenza Schouler are too expensive for me, but when these designers unveil limited-edition lines at affordable prices, I’ll haul ass to buy ’em. The Bowie Target line isn’t much different — Duffty is a star designer in his own right.

“People [who oppose the clothing line] miss the point,” Sears explains. “It’s about consumers getting quality, affordable merchandise who normally can’t afford it. What’s wrong with that? For someone like me, who didn’t have a lot of money growing up and wasn’t able to afford designer clothes, I’d have been very happy to be able to walk around in my Keanan Duffty clothes. It’s introducing David Bowie to a whole new generation.”

Alongside the clothing, Target is also selling, at stores and online through December 24, Strangers When We Meet, a disc featuring previously unreleased live recordings of Bowie’s classics.

Try scoring something like that when shopping for dungarees with your mom.

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