Minnesota United FC defender DJ Taylor is more than a professional soccer player. He’s a mental health advocate, a fashion enthusiast, and now an entrepreneur in the luxury clothing space. His latest line with Venci, the clothing brand he created in collaboration with local designer Denimani Livingstone, is the creative collision of all those identities.
Taylor started Venci in 2021 as a streetwear brand, but now it’s taking a turn for the luxurious. Venci will debut its latest garments in the MLS All-Star Week Fashion Show, a runway show at the Fhima’s restaurant in Minneapolis set to take place after the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday. Taylor’s brand will be one of many on the runway roster, which includes familiar faces from the Minnesota fashion world. While enjoying small bites from the Fhima’s late-night menu, attendees can expect to see designs from Arianne Zager, Keiona Cook, Mike Byers, and Rammy Mohammed.
Prior to this launch, Venci was a streetwear brand. As part of a luxury line, each Venci piece will be handmade and minimalist, making the items unique, yet versatile enough to fit many personal styles. “This brand highlights that everyone has imperfections, but that you can still be extravagant and bold,” Taylor says.
The name, Venci—meaning “to overcome” or “conquer” in Spanish—is all about expressing the best of yourself, no matter what expectations others have of you, or what you’re struggling with at the time. This stems from Taylor’s observations of athletes struggling to define themselves outside their sports—as well as his own experience with that struggle. “You’re always one play away from the end,” Taylor says, since professional athletes have relatively short careers. “Athletes can struggle after transitioning to the real world, and I want to try to lead the path forward and show people they can do other things.”
Taylor says he has always had an interest in fashion. He notes that athletes’ sense of style is already part of their personal branding, and their outfits serve as windows into their personalities, especially on game days, when clothing doubles as both self-expression and a confidence boost.
He was inspired to take the leap into entrepreneurship after COVID hit. “We couldn’t trade or play, so I wanted to take advantage of this time,” he says. The pandemic reached the United States, and he immediately started teaching himself about online retail and shipping to get an understanding of how to run this new business venture. Now, a few years later, Venci is ready to hit the runway in Minnesota.
Each Venci garment will also come with an NFT that will provide access to fan experiences with Minnesota soccer players and early notifications of Venci’s future drops. Taylor says his hope is that this will offer another way to build a community for fans.
He also says he’s excited to co-host the runway show with fellow entrepreneur Ricky Collins and share this new era of Venci. “I’m a vibe person, so networking, bringing people together, and seeing people’s reactions will be really exciting,” he says.
Taylor’s teammates, meanwhile, have been supportive of his foray into fashion, so much so that some of them—namely, Dayne St. Clair, Niko Hansen, and Jacori Hayes—will be walking the runway this Wednesday. Each look, Taylor says, will incorporate elements of his teammates’ personal styles.
You can see DJ Taylor’s latest luxury designs for his Venci brand at the MLS All-Star Week Fashion Show, taking place at Fhima’s in Minneapolis on Wednesday, Aug. 10, starting at 9:30 p.m.