Canyons of the Unknown Gives Us the Hug

Canyons of the Unknown Gives Us the Hug

Canyons of the Unknown Gives Us the Hug

Model, athlete, and artist David Alexander Flinn launches Canyons of the Unknown—a vessel of creativity within a community to add to his repertoire.

Model, athlete, and artist David Alexander Flinn launches Canyons of the Unknown—a vessel of creativity within a community to add to his repertoire.

Text: Stella Pak

David Alexander Flinn’s world is a dichotomy where spiritual sensitivity and mental wellness merge into combat sports. Model, athlete, and artist, he’s launched, Canyons of the Unknown—a vessel of creativity within a community to add to his repertoire. Canyon’s latest launch in collaboration with Pace Leather NYC is a leather vest aptly named, The Hug. An expression of protection and defense zipped up in tenderness. V checked out his launch at his go-to barbershop, Human Nature NYC—where he showcased his collaboration along with his artwork installations for a chat.

How was Canyons of the Unknown conceived?

Canyons of the Unknown started while I was living in Los Angeles and I started realizing that a lot of the identities of different groups of people are defined by these canyons that people lived in. Generally, there are these geographical ecosystems that were created by each one of these narrow passageways through these valleys. I had friends in Laurel Canyon who are a vibe and I had friends in Beachwood Canyon that had a totally different vibe. I started finding these spaces eroded in nature and time that were filled up with these communities. 

It sounds like a metaphor of where different creative energies merge. 

Energy is anything. I found these canyons to be metaphors for undulating travel through life. Canyons come from a sequence of these ideas and these pockets of energy. Pockets of creativity and pockets of knowledge. As I started building this venture, I wanted Canyons of the Unknown to be a vessel to explore. It’s an entity where I can let go. I want it to be a collaborative effort. I want to bring on directors, other photographers, I want to publish.

Your latest launch, The Hug— is a leather vest in collaboration with Pace Leather NYC and you showcased it at your best friend, Anwar’s barbershop—Human Nature.

Pace is a custom leatherworker in the neighborhood. We’ve all lived in the same neighborhood for many years. We’re all kind of Orchard Street people. The barbershop, Human Nature NYC is there, Roman has Regina’s Grocery, it’s a community thing, so we wanted to do a community project to start off the year. I think everybody likes to throw parties for the end of the year and I kind of wanted to do a small celebration at the beginning of the year. Let’s celebrate this year. It’s gonna be rad.

I think that’s the beauty of getting people together. We can talk about moving forward, 

We just want people to come in—I’m trying to rebuild communities. These communities we’ve slowly lost because of social media. When I think about old places like… Park Cafe where Michael Stipe and all the artists used to drink coffee in the ’90s. And then Cafe Fleur in Paris where all the artists used to meet up and talk shit. Francis Bacon and the Artist’s Club on 14th St., where he had all these people in his little apartment, was just a bar for artists. What Max Fish used to be. Going out, just walking into places because you might see someone there. I miss that. 

The name, The Hug—gives off a playfulness of warmth with dark undertones throughout sub subcultures.

I wanted a BDSM aesthetic for something that was so tender like a hug. I’ve always had a fascination with motorcycle culture and BDSM. The idea of what leather vests are in these subcultures and how that transcends through the century and through time’s community-based. You think about warriors who wore suede and leather vests. You think about Hell’s Angels. All the Hell’s Angels are all people who came out of the Navy. Those are all army people who came out. And they became the Hell’s Angels. So you know, army jackets, army vests. It’s the symbol of being part of something. BDSM has all these ideas of restraint that are hard and intense. 

The style is versatile and androgynous while utilitarian.

The shape is taken from medieval under armor leather and chainmail. The shape came from that idea of the chainmail tank tops they used to wear. Sometimes arrows and spears can penetrate the armor and all around the organs. There would be multiple layers of protection. The silhouette of the entire hug is protecting all of your most important organs as well. 

You can wear it open, with a hoodie. Or wear it for extra pockets. If you’re a photographer and you don’t want to carry your point and shoot, you can put it in your back zip pocket. All of it is so important to me because I lose so much shit. It straps to my body and makes sure I don’t lose anything. And when I close it, it makes me feel warm and makes me feel protected. 

It gives me '90s Peter Lindbergh vibes.

This year was a big year for the '90s. A lot of people referenced the product and ideas of merch. People made merch for events and stuff like that but how I want to approach is more like, getting to walk away from a show with this kind of little memento or totem. A place for education, a space where people can learn. One of the merch shirts, Arts and Science – has one of our logos on it, and the other side has ten lists of scientific facts. Just scientific facts. How do you read gravitational pull? What’s the difference between us and the moon? You can use these things to dream. And understand your dream. Space is so far. But the moon is only 259,000 miles away. I’d say probably 75% of iconography we use is misappropriated and misrepresented for over hundreds of years. And even today the mass understanding is still an incredibly misunderstood symbolism. I think… if I can add one thing that people can remember me, it’s “David was funny. He was a sick son of a bitch and he was funny.” 

The Hug is available for Pre-order on Shopify.

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