New Luxury has become an 800-pound gorilla, in the sense that it sits where it wants and wears what it wants. That’s kind of the vibe that informs Camp High, a nascent label by industry veterans Greg Dacyshyn and Greg Johnsen. Dacyshyn spent the majority of his career as the chief creative officer at Burton during the snowboard boom of the mid-ʼ90s, a path that led him to rub shoulders with the likes of Supreme founder James Jebbia, Stüssy creative head Paul Mittleman, and Japanese streetwear plug Hiroshi Fujiwara.
Dacyshyn’s time at Burton also intersected with a younger Hiroki Nakamura, who worked on Burton’s footwear line Gravis for a few years before eventually leaving to start his own thing: a little Japanese artisanal label called visvim. “Streetwear wasn’t a category per se yet,” recalls Dacyshyn. “But it was a cool time.”
Indeed, while snowboarding was blowing up in the mainstream, Greg Johnsen (affectionately known as “Bald Head Greg,” or “BHG” for short) built a similarly impressive foundation in the early days of street culture, with a resume that includes being one of Supreme’s first designers, a buyer at seminal boutique UNION, and designing for Stüssy.
A couple of decades later, the two decided to put their friendship and unique chemistry to good use. Channeling a healthy dose of self-awareness (with maybe a few odd substances imbibed along the way), and, of course, years of experience in what it takes to make clothes that last, Camp High is one of the quirkiest, pseudo-hippie, high-end sportswear brands out right now.
And, as far as cult leaders go, who wouldn’t want to drink the Flavor Aid with Greg Dacyshyn? It doesn’t hurt that his long white beard gives him the air of an alchemist, streetwear wizard, or psychedelic Santa (most likely some potent cocktail of all three). Or, as he describes himself, “I look like I’m made of drugs.”
It makes him the perfect foil to BHG’s smooth-headed, sober, straight man. Everything about Camp High feels organic — not in the Erewhon sort of way, but in the Step Brothers-esque “Did we just become best friends?” way. The brand name is a meta reference not just to drugs, but also a corruption of the Japanese drinking toast “kampai,” recalling the numerous hazy nights the two spent in Tokyo, hanging out with other like-minded people.
Camp High’s products range from nostalgic sportswear — think indigo-dyed sweatshirts with typefaces akin to actual camp merch and sweat suits with playful hand-drawn graphics — to high-end woven robes, hats, and shorts. There’s the “Yaktus” print, a beautifully rendered jacquard cactus pattern knit on a light blue fabric that allows it to pop even more. It’s available as a $1,242 robe, a $270 bucket hat, and a $936 pair of pants.
But don’t go calling Camp High a “streetwear” brand. Although the Gregs appreciate how the style has gone from indie darling to stadium rock — similar to how “friend of the brand” John Mayer can pack out Madison Square Garden for Dead & Co. shows — Dacyshyn (who functions as Camp High’s most outspoken counselor and its de facto ambassador) makes it clear that he and his creative partner are trying to maintain a certain sense of purity to the project.
Despite the pricey nature of some of the clothes, it’s meant to be worn out, not archived in a closet and waiting to be resold. “It’s become so precious. People are collecting things as opposed to really wearing them,” he says of today’s mindless streetwear consumerism. “We're not all trying to be clones of each other or just buying into a brand because we're sheep.”
Dacyshyn describes the Camp High ethos as having a little bit of a “fuck you” attitude. As someone who’s achieved a level of success where he can wear whatever he wants, the ultimate compliments he gets are when his ritzy Santa Monica Canyon neighbors get jealous of his eminently cozy sense of personal style. That spills into the sprawling compound he resides in, replete with a killer fleet of vehicles, including a Volkswagen Thing, a metal cabinet cheekily labeled “ACID,” and a rare Supreme pinball machine as the living room’s pièce de résistance. After all, even 800-pound gorillas need something to occupy their idle hands.