As a global fashion brand, Marc Ecko Enterprises reported 1.5B in global retail sales just last year. Since its inception in 1993, Marc Ecko has developed in to an international conglomerate holding Marc Ecko Cut & Sew as one of its most successful ventures. Unveiling the more â€œserious label with a youthful edgeâ€ in 2004, the line has seen collabos with the likes of Rocky, Spike Lee, Lucas Films and soon to be Playboy. With its roots said grounded in hip hop, Marc Ecko Cut & Sew designs for the regular guy.
â€œA lot of street brands are very cutting edge and fresh, always the first with the pop colors and edgy graphics, but we give it a minute and let it marinate out there in the streets, then we drop it on the regular guy.â€
Format: Please state who you are and your role at Marc Ecko Cut & Sew.
John Canale: Vice President Design and Merchandising and Denim Designer.
Format: Launched in 2004, how has the brand grown since its inception?
John Canale: We have grown to expand into much deeper penetration of key product classes offering the core customer a full lifestyle experience. We can offer as a brand, which most brands cannot, specifically affordably priced, high quality and great fit. I have played the main role in developing the core DNA of the brand from fabrication, styling, and fit, working closely with Marc Ecko to build his vision of a lifestyle brand.
Format: The Cut & Sew demographic is one who wants to start to â€œdress a little more serious but maintain a youthful edge.â€ How have you achieved this through your collections?
John Canale: We always offer classics with a twist, whether itâ€™s a track jacket with classic pinstripe of glen-plaid printing, clean wovens with tonal embroidery embellishments, or denim with extra thought in the detailing of the back pockets. We still offer blazers that could be worn to dinner or a club or industry event, and not look stuffy.
Format: What is the relation between hip hop and Marc Ecko?
John Canale: Marc (the man) and the brand are both products of being raised on hip hop. It is something a lot of us 30-somethings can relate to as part of our up bringing, which helped to mold our likes and dislikes in both pop culture and fashion, and it will always be a common thread of our environment.
Format: In your view, what was the best hip hop album ever produced?
John Canale: EPMD Business As Usual, 1990
Format: What is your personal favorite piece from the Spring 2009 collection and why?
John Canale: Definitely the Spli-Tac-Tics jean â€“ Itâ€™s got a fresh new pocket design with an inspired dark wash and heavy contrast stitching, and nice boot fit.
Format: Previous ad campaigns have seen heavy sexual tones. Will you continue with this for 2009?
John Canale: Yes, we recently shot our 2009 campaigns with Kendra Wilkinson along side a male model for the Marc Ecko Cut & Sew collection at the Hugh Hefner Sky Villa Fantasy Tower at the Palms Casino Resort. The ads will be out January 2009.
Format: With so many mass-produced brands in the market, how does Marc Ecko compete?
John Canale: We have a real designer, artist, and person behind the product.
Format: Streetwear brands have really flourished significantly in the past few years. How has this affected Marc Eckoâ€™s market share?
John Canale: It is more competitive for sure, but we always watch what other brands are doing to push the envelope and we dedicate a lot of effort to put our own spin on new trends. You have to be ahead to get ahead, but you also have to remain true to your customer base and continue to offer the hits year after year.
Format: Please comment on the dichotomy between streetwear brands and mainstream hip hop brands like Marc Ecko.
John Canale: We are not a mainstream hip hop brand â€“ we are a menâ€™s resource based historically in street culture, and classic fashion menswear. If we are too â€œstreetâ€, the average guy not from NYC or LA cannot yet relate. Heâ€™s not forward enough and not exposed to the street trends until six months down the road. A lot of street brands are very cutting edge and fresh, always the first with the pop colors and edgy graphics, but we give it a minute and let it marinate out there in the streets, then we drop it on the regular guy.
Format: Youâ€™ve had collaborations with Rocky, Spike Lee, and Star Wars. Please talk a little about each collaboration and how it came into fruition.
John Canale: Marcâ€™s always been a huge Star Wars geek, so he met up with George Lucas, he gave us free run of the archives, and there you go: history in the making. Marc and Spike Lee have known each other for a while and when the 40 Acres and a Mule idea was approached there was nothing but great synergy. The Rocky Balboa was a tribute that came about naturally there was a lot of buzz around the movie that released the same time as well.
Format: What other collabos are in the works?
John Canale: Playboy.
Format: You developed a Widgetbox for the brand. Please talk about this initiative and why initiatives like this are so important to your brand strategy.
John Canale: Itâ€™s a great tool for keeping consumers informed rather quickly of the lifestyle of the brand.
Format: Where will Marc Ecko Cut & Sew be in five years?
John Canale: Weâ€™ll be here going strong while all the smaller brands fizzle. We have the know-how to take ownership of all product classes and continue to morph the needs of the consumer to our product assortment: be it more denim one season, more shorts the next. Also, full-scale direct retail shops around the world â€“ we are already expanding to Canada, and the rest of Europe.
More info: www.eckounltd.com/