Red Clay

Red Clay

Founded in 2004 by Adamu Chan, and Jae Knox, Red Clay is a semi-established brand out of the Bay Area. Fresh off of their respective grinds as a television show host in Tokyo (Adamu), and a t-shirt designer in California (Jae), and disenfranchised with the San Francisco scene at the time, Adamu and Jae set off to develop a line representing experiences and ideas specific to the Bay. Three years, and six collections later, Red Clay is releasing a full collection available across the globe.

“Our overall design aesthetic focuses more on subtle details and quality than catchy colors and graphics.”

Format: Please introduce Red Clay and its respective founders.
Adamu Chan: Red Clay is a two-headed monster made up of myself, Adamu, and my partner, Jae Knox. I take care of design, marketing and sales and Jae handles most of the finance and daily operations.

Format: Before starting Red Clay, Adamu was doing a television show in Japan. What’s the story behind this?
Adamu: There is no real story behind this, it was just my job out there. I was the host of an entertainment type television show. However, living in Japan laid a lot of the framework for starting the company. In 2001 when I started living in Tokyo, for a lot of the kids that I was hanging out with in San Francisco, Japan was something of a “mecca” for streetwear, a place where you could find goods that others wouldn’t be able to get their hands on. Nowadays, everything can be had on the Internet. In the profession I was in, I was able to meet and become friends with many people at the forefront of the industry, which had a large influence on me and fueled my desire to start Red Clay.

Red Clay

Format: At the same time, Jae was running a successful t-shirt line. Why the transition into Red Clay?
Adamu: I think for both of us, we wanted to do something that had more of an international appeal and that was more than just a t-shirt company.

Format: What does Red Clay mean?
Adamu: Red Clay is a Freddie Hubbard Jazz tune that I think captures the feeling of what we are trying to express with the line. My name, Adamu means “the first man born from Red Clay” as well.

Format: 2007 marks the third year for Red Clay. How has the line grown since 2004?
Adamu: We’ve grown in all facets of the company from design to distribution. I think for us, and most of our contemporaries in this so-called “streetwear” industry, the past few years have been a growing process for all of us in terms of learning how to grow a brand, the ins and outs of running a business and how to produce quality garments.

Red Clay

Format: Which markets are most responsive to Red Clay, and why do you think these specific markets take to the brand?
Adamu: New York has always been good to us since the beginning, LA and SF as well. I think our aesthetic appeals to a very urban frame of reference. Living in metropolitan areas, around so many people, makes us want to differentiate ourselves from others. Red Clay caters to that search for individuality and I think people are drawn to that.

Format: Please discuss the development of some of your favorite garments from the Red Clay Fall/Winter 07 collection.
Adamu: I’m a jacket dude, so those by default are my favorites. We will be dropping a shawl collar fleece pullover next month for Holiday that I think is somewhat of a new look for streetwear. A classic look reinterpreted. Keep a lookout for the quilted lambskin leather baseball jacket as well.

Format: Red Clay focuses much more on pattern and texture than the average streetwear brand. Please discuss the influences behind this decision.
Adamu: I don’t think it’s necessarily a formal decision, but more about the brand identity overall. Our overall design aesthetic focuses more on subtle details and quality than catchy colors and graphics.

Red Clay

Format: To what degree does Red Clay identify with the streetwear market?
Adamu: It’s funny because I feel like a lot of discussion lately has been centered around what the streetwear industry is and where it’s going. One of the things I noticed, and I’d include our brand in this observation, is that a lot of the companies that are at the forefront of the industry are in the process of figuring out intelligent ways to differentiate themselves from the rest. While I think this is always a motivation for most companies, it has become a more concerted effort over the last year or so with the explosion of the streetwear market and the proliferation of brands. Streetwear as an industry, as this “industry” has to be redefined and reinterpreted, or it gets stale and dies. Look for a shift back to basic.

Format: Recently, Red Clay teamed up with Empire distribution. How has this partnership helped develop the brand?
Adamu: We are constantly thinking of ways to expand into different and new markets. Our partnership with Empire reflects one of those moves.

Format: Anything else you’d like to discuss?
Adamu: Just like to thank those that have supported us and helped make a great brand.

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Red Clay

Shane Ward

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