Like a many-headed hydra, the Triangle is a strange blend of neighboring cities with very different personalities. Known for his wildly popular–sometimes controversial–art and fashion label, Gabe Eng-Goetz doesn’t shy away from the darker side of city stereotypes. In fact, he wears them on his sleeve.
Triangle locals have likely seen Eng-Goetz’ work scrawled across his Runaway brand clothing. With slogans like “DURM: Say It Like You’re From Here,” “Durham OG,” and “Black Wall Street,” he fully embraces his Durham heritage.
“I’d like to relate the Triangle to shoes,” he responds, when asked to candidly speak about city stereotypes. “Cary is the pair of all-white Sketchers Shape-Ups your aunt wears to Jazzercize. Durham is the mint-condition Fila sneakers you found at Goodwill while stoned. Chapel Hill is a pair of Sperry’s that have never seen a boat deck.”
And what does he think of Raleigh?
“Raleigh is a pair of bootleg Louboutins you got in Chinatown while back home for the holidays.”
This staunch honesty, coupled with the ability to laugh at each city’s unique cultural stereotypes, has enormous popularity on the streets of “DURM.”
Eng-Goetz explains, “A lot changed for me once I coined the word ‘DURM’ back in 2012. It’s a local pronunciation of Durham. I first put it on hats and the response was good, so I ran with it.” Since then, his clothing label has spun through four years of success. His Summer 2015 Collection will launch this July.
“What started as an artistic experiment back in 2011 has grown into a focused lifestyle brand,” he says. “The name Runaway comes from the idea of running from convention in search of truth.”
Born and raised in Durham, Eng-Goetz attributes many of his quirks and creative inspirations to Durham culture. In fact, after spending his college years in New York, he became more determined to develop his hometown’s music and arts scene. “Instead of leaving and taking my talents to South Beach, I stuck around and made movies with other like-minded artists in an effort to create our own unique scene right here in Durham,” he shares.
“This is my way of giving back to the city that made me.”
Eng-Goetz’ edgy designs have impacted more than just the local fashion world. His art bleeds over into the music scene, as well, where he inks and illustrates album covers for rock bands. From any angle, his art is shifting the way the Triangle perceives itself.
“Each city has it’s own flavor, and I love that about the Triangle. Crazy to think in 50 years it will have melded into one massive metropolis.”
What will that future look like? Maybe he can draw it for us.