For 19-year-old Sean Heidinger – known by the moniker Seabass – it’s all about getting noticed. Heidinger is the CEO of Dazzle Me Formal, the unlikely new hero of rap-scene threads and an astonishing success story of smart marketing and ambition. The line appears to be a foray into urban, audiophile fashion, but it didn’t start out that way.

Kelly Fraser
(SAM WOLSON and MAX COLLINS/Daily).

“We wanted to build a brand, and we felt that clothing was the best way,” he said. It’s a decision that he says was partly inspired by John Earle’s move with the Johnny Cupcakes line.

In late 2006, Dazzle Me Formal was born from one T-shirt and one design originally sold at a rock concert. When they easily sold out of their stock, they started printing more. Heidinger’s success was fueled by the support of the indie-punk band Cute Is What We Aim For, whose lead singer is a friend of Heidinger’s. The band has a deal with DMF to wear its apparel on tour in exchange for free clothes.

DMF has now become something of a marketing phenomenon. Throwing parties for new releases and appearing at concerts with Cute is What We Aim For has contributed to the brand’s visibility. More recently, their gear has been appearing in MTV music videos. Just six months ago, they signed an exclusive deal with New Era Cap.

With his brand gaining ground at the national level, it’s hard for Heidinger to imagine what might come next.

“I already surpassed what I wanted to do by so much. At this point, I guess the sky’s the limit.”

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