Step into the daily lives of

Kyle

Ng

Kyle Ng

New York

Nico

New York Nico

Joe

Freshgoods

Joe Freshgoods

& Alex

James

& Alex James

How do you stay creative during a pandemic? For answers, we turned to four
culture makers across the US—New York Nico, Kyle Ng, Joe Freshgoods,
and Alex James — on how they meet the demands of staying productive in our new reality.
We’ve equipped each of them with a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G,
a revolutionary
smartphone
that allows them to stay creative, whether doing everything in one place,
or out on the go hunting for inspiration.

Perfectly designed for the creative life, the Z Fold2 is three devices in one: folded
closed like a regular smartphone, open flat like a tablet, or laid on a surface like a
mini-laptop. It’s four machines, if you include its camera, with its impressive depth
of field and hands-free shooting.

Each of the culture makers we selected were tasked with taking photographs and screenshots
that give us a glimpse of their creative process, what inspires them, and how to balance
between work and play. The results we got back were surprisingly intimate, quirky,
unexpectedly funny, and humane. Take a peek into their lives below.

New
York Nico

downtown new yorkdowntown new yorkTiger Hood, a street golfer who hits milk cartons throughout the street; or the Green Lady of Brooklyn, who only dresses in green. These are just two of the fascinating individuals that New York Nico, a documentary filmmaker, has captured on his Instagram account.

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Having
grown up in Union Square and gone to school in the Village, he’s dedicated
his project to capturing all the indispensable local characters who make up
the quirky flavor of the ever-changing NYC. So when Covid hit the city,
claiming the lives of tens of thousands and forcing countless others out
of their homes, Nico immediately went to work to help save a part of the
city that was vanishing before his eyes.

Catapulting off of the viral success of his Instagram — which
has 472k followers, attracting attention from the New York
Times and celebrities like Alec Baldwin and Chloe Sevingy—Nico
launched contests such as Best New York Mask, Best New York
Photo, and Best New York T-Shirt, that raised nearly
$300,000 for charities such as God’s Love We Deliver,
Color of Change,
and The Campaign Against Hunger.

Since the pandemic, Nico launched the #MomNPopDrop hashtag for
quirky and iconic small businesses that were struggling to
stay open. He started with Army & Navy Bag on Houston Street
by going down to the store and taking a photo of its owner.
Then for the next week or so, lines began forming outside
his shop. “When I saw the response to that, I was like,
holy shit. These posts are making a huge impact,” he said to Elle.

For Highsnobiety, Nico photographed,
as an extension of his practice, various scenes in the daily
life of New York City: dog-walking in the streets, vendors,
business owners. An ATV driven by a Chucky doll. All photos
were shot on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G, which was
convenient enough to take with him for unexpected moments
on the go that, with a clunkier machine, he would have missed
just seconds later. And what moments these were — a testament to
what keeps New York strong, the New York that he loves,
which he believes will survive the pandemic.

Kyle
NG

downtown new yorkdowntown new yorkKyle Ng is a connoisseur of the t-shirt.
“It’s like a billboard for who you are,” he said in SSENSE.
He’s the founder of Brain Dead, a streetwear brand run by a
Los Angeles-based creative collective of artists and designers,
who featured in our July edition of The NEXT 20.

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“The best t-shirts are ones with an approach, a perspective,
and a culture already around it,” he went on. Simultaneously, the t-shirt
for Ng is a signal of individuality that defines itself as part of a
collective and a cultural context.

This year, when the Black Lives Matter protests began in Minneapolis
and spread around the world, Ng had the idea of making none other than
a t-shirt to both commemorate the moment, and raise money for the
Movement for Black Lives. He contacted Dev Hynes of Blood Orange,
and designed a shirt in two hours, putting it for sale the next
day. It made $500,000.

Ng did what he does best: putting the times in a graphic. Brain
Dead is celebrated for immersing itself in the cultures of post-punk,
skateboarding, and underground comics. Comfortable with collaborating,
Ng has worked with brands such as The North Face, Levi’s, and even
Shake Shack. Yet as international as his brand’s reach is,
he is still attuned to LA at the local level. As a research
practice, Brain Dead works with the people involved in a
particular culture, which makes fashion and community
organizing one and the same.

With the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G’s “flex mode,” Ng is able to toggle
through multiple windows at once, in the smartphone’s tablet mode, and
compare designs and photos. It’s a boon for his Covid-era productivity,
where sales (perhaps unusually) have been up 120%. For Highsnobiety,
Ng photographed himself and his collaborators with the Z Fold2 in
and around his studio, where he recently worked on a series of
t-shirts inspired by horror movies for Halloween. Other scenes
are more quotidian: journeys looking for mushrooms at the market,
his dog. Perhaps most iconic of the moment, one photograph shows
his mail-in ballot with the “I Voted” sticker an image emblematic
of the brand itself and some of its core values.

Alex
James

downtown new yorkdowntown new york“Rock isn’t a trend for me nor my brand. I don’t wear a Slayer or Motörhead
t-shirt because I think they look cool, I wear them because I’ve been thrashing to
that music in my bedroom long before these lames were around,” says Alex James,
the owner of PLEASURES.

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It’s a streetwear brand known for its DIY aesthetics drawn from music
subcultures like metal and new wave, and has attracted the likes of The Weeknd,
Kylie Jenner, A$AP Rocky, and Kim Jones.

Growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey to working class parents,
James came of age during the ‘80s and ‘90s, immersing himself in the music scene
of New York that would hail this period the last of its kind, before the Internet
and Giulani killed the underground. This was an era defined by Sonic Youth,
CBGB’s, Chloe Sevigny in Kids. The last bastion of Gen-X culture.

PLEASURES, which was launched in 2015, began as a way of making affordable clothing
inspired by vintage band merch.

Yet as laconic as he is about his design choices, James cares a lot about
accessibility. “PLEASURES is an inclusive brand. We want to include everyone
and not alienate our consumer,” he said in GOAT. This harkens back to his
younger years spent rummaging through thrift stores and estate sales for
clothes, and hanging out all day at record shops. Hence the touch of nostalgia
in PLEASURES’ designs. The culture that it represents is of a recent past that
might be seen as dead if people like James weren’t dedicated to preserving it.
“Rock was around first and will be here forever,” he says.

For Highsnobiety, James shot surprisingly intimate photos with the Samsung Galaxy
Z Fold2 5G of scenes from his home life. Some of the smartphone’s features,
like its hands-free shooting (all you have to do is wave at the camera and it’ll
take a picture) allows for users to appear in portraits with others in front
of the camera, like James does with his child. Other shots show scenes from
his home, like his intricately woven carpet, or a bouquet of flowers. It’s a
reminder that some of the most inspiring scenes in daily life are those closest
to you.

Joe
Freshgoods

downtown new yorkdowntown new yorkIt was a bad situation that turned into a good one. In 2018, Joe Freshgoods — the
designer who co-owns the Fat Tiger Workshop store in Chicago—had a contract with Adidas
to release two sneakers and an apparel collection, but the deal fell through last minute.

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The clothes were already made, so Freshgoods, who was able to retrieve the dead stock,
went ahead and put it for sale for a 40 percent markdown at a drive-through fundraiser
for public schools in Chicago. His hope was to raise money for the laptops, tablets, and
headphones kids need for remote learning during quarantine.

His dedication to Chicago runs deep. When Freshgoods drops a t-shirt at a pop-up in the city,
lines stretch to over 90 minutes to cop them. It goes back to when he used to sell his own
branded t-shirts secretly while he was working for the Chicago streetwear shop Leaders.
People trust him because he’s committed to the city. Since the pandemic, he introduced
Community Goods, a charitable brand that raises funds for small Black-owned businesses
in Chicago and The Greater Chicago Food Depository.

While working at Leaders, he met Chance The Rapper, whom he considers an old friend.
In 2017, Chance went on to wear one of Freshgoods’ hoodies when accepting the award for
Best Rap Performance. (It reads “Thank you.”) The exposure catapulted Freshgoods to a
new national platform—raking in collaborations with McDonald’s, Nike, Chicago’s Museum
of Contemporary Art, and the Chicago Bears—yet he has stayed true to his Chicago roots.

Shot entirely with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G, Freshgoods’ photos for Highsnobiety give us
a look into his creative studio. The smartphone’s hands-free shooting also makes it
even easier to take self-portraits, with having your arm awkwardly jutting to the
corner of the picture. More shots show scenes from the Fat Tiger Workshop, and all
its swag and splendor. It’s a space he co-owns with Terrell Jones and Desmond Owusu,
and has been a stalwart in the local community. “We’re a community store,” he said in
The Fader. “We’re like a barber shop.”