Over these past six months, it seems like you’ve been in the best space creatively. Do you feel that?
Yes sir. It seems like my wheels are turning right now. I’m getting older and now I feel like I have a reason to create. I understand there’s a bigger picture. When I first started designing, it was about solely expressing myself in a way to get away from reality. Now, I see how many people I impact and how many people live vicariously through me. If I keep creating at this pace, I can make even more of an impact.
Last year, in our first interview, you were just about to release Phera. What’s going on with phera these days?
I’m still working on clothing and garments, but I’m really taking my time with it. I didn’t want to box myself in, or box Phera in. What’s happening right now is, we’re doing videos and trying to do more visuals besides fashion. I’m looking to create Phera as a company that does everything that’s aesthetically pleasing.
Previously you’ve done a lot of 1 of 1 and custom pieces for people. Are you looking to create mass-produced collections?
I’m trying to find that middle ground right now. I would like to keep things exclusive, but the demand and the number of people that I want to touch won’t allow me to do that for long. Right now I’m in a space where I can mass produce but make it a limited run.
I heard there’s a pretty deep backstory behind your Saku hoodie?
I was in a dark place when this project came about. During that time I had a deal with a manufacturing company and I gave them my last $2000 to get a couple items mass produced. A month passed and deadlines didn’t get hit. The company ended up closing down and they took my money. I had no money and I remember being down about it. I figured this wasn’t working for me and I should just try something else.
In my crib, I had a box of white hoodies and a few floral patches laying around. This was around the time Gucci was going in that direction and I wanted to make something similar, but dope and affordable for my people. I ended up telling myself I am going to teach myself how to dye and change these hoodies colors and put these patches on them and hopefully, they sell. The first run I did had three colors, pastel pink, yellow, and the rest were white and they ended up selling out. I got back on my feet after that first run and figured I was going to drop them again. The second run I ended up doing new colors and upping the quality of them. I did orange and red and made them the first release on my new website. I named the hoodies Saku which means bloom in Japanese because during that summer I worked with a designer by the name of Jaja, who taught me how to learn a Japanese dying technique called Shibori.
You just talked about your website… that’s new right? Before every purchase was through DM?
I’ve been doing this for so long I just kinda got annoyed with my previous process. I said you know what, I’m going to create a website and put some things on it…but still, keep it limited and maybe same made to order things. I want my audience to grow on my site. Having a website also makes the shipping process so much easier.
Last month you were able to style Pusha T for the Miami video. How was that feeling?
I was aware of the video and Pusha T being on the song probably a week before because I made the producer of the track (Rio Mac) a full outfit for the video. You can’t see it as much in the video because he’s laying down on the counter but he had on my joggers and a baby blue Saku hoodies.
It was 11:30 at night I was finishing putting the outfit together for Rio Mac and I got a call from a number I didn’t know. I didn’t pick it up. Then it called a second time. Before I could text the number, I get a DM from Andrew Barber and he was like, “Yo Ron, Valee gave me your number, give me a call when you get a chance if this is still your working number.” I was thinking he was going to be asking for something for Valee, which I already made anyway. When I called Andrew, he said, “this is for Pusha T”. At first, man I was reluctant. You know, I’m not really a stylist. This is Pusha T, I don’t want to mess this up. It’s 11:30, I don’t really have time to do no pulls. Something in my head then said this is what you want to do. These are the calls I have to be prepared for. I told Andrew, I would do it, but just give me the details. Andrew said, “it won’t be that much work, his stylist is there, you’ll just be the assistant.” The next morning I end up getting there, expecting the stylist to be there and he’s not there. I ended up going through what he had sent and I basically put his looks up on a rack and put it together. I wouldn’t say I fully styled Pusha, I took what he already had in a suitcase and put it together for him. It didn’t click in my head that this was something legendary until after. I was just in work mode. I wanted to do the best job that I could.
Can we expect you to do more styling in 2018?
Yeah. I dedicate this year to being uncomfortable and going through growing pains. A stylist is definitely something I want to add to my resume. I’m really just trying to be uncomfortable this year because I want to do some great things.
When it comes to pants/jeans in Chicago, we think of Sheila and you. Can we expect you two to collab on a piece?
If the time and the place and the craftsmanship is right. I say all the time, I look up to Sheila, her craftsmanship, and I know the years that she put in. I wouldn’t want to even ask or think about doing a collab that wasn’t beneficial to both parties. I feel like I have a little bit more catching up to do, despite what people think. Due to knowing how great of an artist/designer she is, I would want to be at a higher level to elevate and make the product or whatever we’re doing the best.
What are two big things you want to accomplish this year?
First things first, I want to do a presentation…kind of like a pop-up presentation. Not a fashion show, just something that’s intimate where people can see what I’ve been working on as for Fall/Winter. That will be closer to the EOTY.
Another thing I want to do is really just continue to make great products. I really want to do something for the city. Something that they can hold on to. I want to continue to make history and impact other people. I want to be something great for my city and be recognized for it.