With the saturation in the streetwear apparel market, the staying power of a successful clothing company is wearing thin. Even the most prestigious, longstanding clothiers have had to reinvent and expand their lines to compete with the new and more innovative emergence of independents.
James Cruickshank, Emmett Shine, and Alexander Young created Lola NYC. These guys are examples of a new generation of innovators that are both business thinkers and artistically inclined. The brand derives from the core of what has made them the men they are today.
â€œFor people to think youâ€™re rich and successful, thereâ€™s nothing wrong with that. Weâ€™ve stopped fighting that weâ€™re of a blue-collar backgroundâ€
Format: The name Lola derived from the Lola Prentice Memorial Park. A lot of people arenâ€™t tuned into that place. How is this place relevant to you?
Emmett: Lola Prentice Memorial Park is in South Hampton village on the Eastern end of Long Island. We used to skateboard in the early to mid-nineties and we kept getting in trouble for it throughout the village — through a conservative seasonal resort town. So, if you were a year-round resident and doing something like skateboarding youâ€™re not really going to be embraced. But we were about 12, 13-years-old and they kept confiscating our skateboards.
We went to the mayorâ€™s office as little headstrong kids and were like â€œYou canâ€™t take our skateboards. We paid for these ourselves. We canâ€™t get â€˜em back and we keep getting in trouble, but [around here] thereâ€™s nothing to do.â€™ In the town thereâ€™s no recreational centers, thereâ€™s nothing of any sorts across the board at all. And he was like â€˜You know what? youâ€™re right. Why donâ€™t I just give you this abandoned spot of land. You can skate there if you stay out of my hair. Donâ€™t come to the village, donâ€™t come to the town.â€™ It was this abandoned, overgrown, not used in decades plot of land on top of a hill, right on the outskirts of the village called Lola Prentice Memorial Park.
Format: The Hamptonâ€™s is a very well off, elite community. The fact that you guys came out with a clothing line, it just seems like you are some wealthy kids with a very accessible opportunity. How will that resonate with the masses?
Emmett: Weâ€™re not spoiled rich kids but weâ€™ve had pretty good lives in comparison to the majority of the world. But if you grew up in the bubble of reality that is some ways America, more specifically New York, even more specifically The Hamptonâ€™s, you know year-round whose parents [from the Hamptonâ€™s work in the] service industries. Thatâ€™s what it is in those places. You have, for example, the Vineyards. [People] who live there year-round, go to public schools, their fathers are fishermen or whatever it is, you know, theyâ€™re not the people who live in million dollar mansions on the beach and fly helicopters in. That wasnâ€™t who we are but at the same time we were exposed to it and [youâ€™ll look at things differently]. [For example, being a year round resident] can make you very seasonally depressed, a lot of people from the Hamptonâ€™s have drinking problems or drug problems, they just abuse things because in the summer they make more money, and thereâ€™s beautiful people out there and you feel like youâ€™re apart of it. When [the seasonal residents] leave town you just feel cold and lonely and itâ€™s very difficult. It has happened to a lot of people I know. But whatâ€™s good about it is that youâ€™re exposed to an influx of culture and creativity from around the world in the summer.
Weâ€™ve always been into art. So we would always go to art openings and stuff. We did graffiti when we were in the city. We respect historical artistsâ€™ like Jackson Pollock or William de Kooning, or Roy Lichtenstein who lived, and had residences in the Hamptonâ€™s. [If youâ€™re into art and a resident of the Hamptonâ€™s] and if youâ€™re smart enough to understand that, thatâ€™s a great, great valuable thing you pay attention to it.
Format: So itâ€™s not about a wealthy background, itâ€™s about having sharp business acumen.
Emmett: We transferred that kind of hustler, and being very smart mentality into the city. Thatâ€™s what we do in the city. Thatâ€™s how we get really good apartments and good places to work. You have to know how to search. For people to think youâ€™re rich and successful, thereâ€™s nothing wrong with that. Weâ€™ve stopped fighting that weâ€™re of a blue-collar background or that weâ€™re people who have worked very hard for everything weâ€™ve earned. Weâ€™ve stopped being combative and defensive about that. We just let people think what they want to think. So you know if t weâ€™re well off itâ€™s just better for our business.
Format: So youâ€™re working on giving back to your community?
Emmett: Weâ€™re working on setting up a scholarship in South Hampton’s with the public schools to give back. I think specifically, in a lot of ways weâ€™ve given a voice to the youth of South Hampton residents that are year round residents that like you said you have pre-conceived notions of who people are and what they can do from the Hampton’s and itâ€™s like if youâ€™re in Toronto, youâ€™re in San Francisco, youâ€™re in Chicago, you donâ€™t really know the intricacies of people from city, just as I donâ€™t know the intricacies and what itâ€™s like to grow up in different cities like Toronto, how would I know?
So, with the Hampton’s weâ€™re the first generation of year round residents to create a strong hold and say, this is who we are we have a voice, we are powerful now that weâ€™re young adults in the Hamptonâ€™s, and thereâ€™s big money involved. Nightlife arts, entertainment, itâ€™s like we really have established a presence in the Hamptonâ€™s which is not easy to do. And weâ€™ve given a kind of inspirational do it yourself model to all these kids who have normal family upbringings or think that they can really express themselves.
Thereâ€™s like seven little clothing companies and staple companies now that are a directly a result of us doing that. Weâ€™ve set up shop in New York City and I have about 50 friends now that live in Manhattan or Brooklyn or Queens because of us moving to city and setting up once again, a strong hold through the unity of a collective of like six individuals just being really strong and working together making sure everyone is like doing well and doing good. Everyone we grew up with lives in the city now and we all pay for everything ourselves we all make sure people can earn money and do different things. Itâ€™s different than just a boutique itâ€™s a lot of people and you still have to judge the clothing on itâ€™s own a lot of ways people buy into what Lola is regardless of what the actual clothing. We still take pride in working very hard to advance the clothing to be more fashion based. Last year we studied whatâ€™s going on, on an international level. I think people really respond to just how strong of a theme Lola is. Itâ€™s organic and itâ€™s been going on for over a decade.
Format: New York City is the Mecca of a lot of things, especially clothing. Do you find that the inner city urban concept is becoming saturated in NYC?
Emmett: Well urban as a market of clothing, I used to intern at Rocawear and they gave me a job there cause I worked so hard. It was really cool, they had Charlotte Ronson’s clothing line there, Kanye West, everyone was there. And itâ€™s dead now in a lot of ways in terms of its relevance even though Rocawear is still huge, multi-million dollar company. Urban, if you go to the trade shows is dead, now itâ€™s called streetwear. Street wear is basically what Sean John and Rocawear is, but street wear is derived from clothing companies like The Hundreds and 10 Deep or Crooks and Castles thatâ€™s streetwear.
Now streetwear encompasses what used to be urban because urban is dead – you cannot quantify urban and try to pitch it and sell it to like, Macyâ€™s. You have to quantify it as streetwear. Although you have France and some parts of Europe and downtown Manhattan with fun creative expressive 80â€™s nouveau, rave, colourings and wild-wackiness besides that, the aggressive in your face stereotype staples of what is urban wear apparently has been declining and on the way out. Weâ€™ve really been tried distancing ourselves from things that pigeonholed or label or market you [in a particular category]. We try to do everything on our own. Itâ€™s a lot harder and it takes longer but I think it protects you from getting caught in a sinking ship.
Format: I notice that you guys donâ€™t really get into magazine or multi-media advertising. You guys can afford it. Are you guys just not interested in the politics of it, or do you just not want to go that route?
Emmett: We donâ€™t want to spend the money on doing it if we donâ€™t have to. A lot of our friends and people we are associated with are trendsetting individuals that play at really important parties and people pay attention to what theyâ€™re doing and thatâ€™s better advertising and we donâ€™t have to pay for it. For example, if we have celebrities wearing our shirts and itâ€™s published in magazines we donâ€™t pay for it and itâ€™s just as good as advertising, itâ€™s actually better.
Advertising looks like you paid for it. Itâ€™s a subconscious thing. It looks like itâ€™s forced vs. not forced. We have about 3000 individuals that put stickers up, weâ€™re easily in the top five that put stickers up in New York City and we also have our stickers up in the whole entire world. Everyone requests stickers, we give them stickers, like every continent except Antarctica. Thatâ€™s a form of advertising that has cost us [a good investment]. Theyâ€™ve been in movie posters and movies, TV shows advertisements, theyâ€™re just in the background, theyâ€™re everywhere.
More Info: http://www.lolanewyork.com/
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