Friday, 29 August 2014 00:45

BUILT TO LAST: 8&9 CLOTHING

Written by  J "prince of the city" prince

8&9 clothing has quickly become one of the fastest growing urban brands in the industry, dominating the game with custom designs and top-notch quality. The brand is the go to apparel for some of your favorite artist and celebs. I got a chance to sit down with the founder of 8&9 to get a better understanding of how far the brand has come and where the brand is going.

Let our readers know who you are and where you’re from? Ray Guilbault, Founder of 8&9 MFG Co. Miami, by way of Boston, Mass.

How did the 8 and 9 company come about? 8&9 came about to fill a void in the market, We started when there was only urban or skate, there wasn’t much out there merging street culture with the downtown lifestyle.  We set out to build a diverse brand that wouldn’t stereotype or pigeon hole our customers based on our name.

What is the meaning behind the name 8 and 9?
The numbers themselves have many meanings but to us 8 is infinite 9 is a perfect number. We say strength in numbers or infinite perfection to remind us of sticking together on our quest for greatness.

Do you do exclusive limited runs on your shirts? We have both limited release items and general release, which are sold, through our retailers.

What brands or designers inspired you when you were coming up?  I’ve always been inspired by brands treating clothing like a hustle, a way of empowering their people. Aside from that LRG is one of the greatest mass marketed brands ever. We’re still inspired by Crooks, Supreme, 10 Deep and the big street wear guys.

Are you guys looking to expand beyond t-shirts? We focus on everyday items core to young men’s style, tees, tanks, hats, and sweatshirts. We just released a jogger style sweat; backpacks and duffels are on the way.  Our Fall line has a Coaches Jacket, we’re definitely expanding but doing it step by step, and the right way making sure quality is on point for everything we release as the brand expands into new categories.

Do you guys have seasonal collections?
Yes, we follow the traditional seasons but also supplement with a lot of quick strike product. We’re constantly releasing new product. We’re able to get from idea through design to production very quickly. It’s one of our biggest strengths.

Tell us more about your gallery location here in Miami? The Showroom, it’s a pretty private location, if you don’t know you might never find it.  We started it as an appointment only shopping experience. Our offices are here, photo studio etc. It’s also our clubhouse; the grill’s always on our team and the homies are here more often than not. Fortunately we love our space and our work so it’s pretty much a 7-day operation.

What’s the best advice you got or biggest lesson learned so far?
Never make a deal you wouldn’t accept on the other side of the table.  This kind of outlook has built really strong partnerships allowing us to grow a strong business without faltering.

What advice would you give to up and coming designers? Plan, work hard, build a strong team, pay your dues and reap the benefits.  Sacrifice is a big part of entrepreneurship but so is diligence, creativity and perseverance. The most important thing is that it can be done, it won’t be easy, no one will hand you anything and if they do they’ll always be in a position to take it back.

I know that you have a lot of meet and greets and performances. Who are
some of the people that came by?
It’s been a great way for fans to meet some of their favorite artists. We’ve brought out KRS ONE, Raekwon, Styles P, Jadakiss, Sheek Louch, Cormega and a few other legends.  Definitely more on the way!

If you could collaborate with any designer or artist who would it be?  Jay Z, his acumen is so sharp and his reach super broad. There’s something epic to be done there.

What separates 8 and 9 from the competition? Product wise it’s our quality and design direction. Business wise it’s our work ethic and sacrifice.

What artist or celebs have been supporting the movement? Jadakiss & Styles have been huge supporters. Other people include Sway, Diddy, Jeezy, DJ Scream, the list is pretty long. We appreciate everyone.

At what point did you know that you could make this a career? The day I decided to invest all the money I worked my ass off and hustled for.  That was back in 2001. 

Do you have a creative team that comes up with the designs? Yes, Ed Hume, design director. Myself, Freehand Profit and Damian Bradley are all instrumental in our creative process/design execution.

What kind of feedback have you gotten on your brand?  The best feedback is sales.  We’re growing at a pretty good clip and appreciate all of the support. From new retailers to celebs buying a specific shirt, we appreciate it all.

How has the Fashion seen changed since you guys started the brand? Completely different, fashion always cycles. The look right now is a lot more clean, fashion inspired.  When we started everything was super baggy, branded etc. We’re looking forward to the continued evolution.

What locations can people get your brand? Our line is stocked at over 250 retailers in the US.  Our web store 8and9.com always has the latest stock, freshest styles and plenty to choose from.

What is the overall goal of the brand?
Continue to grow, expand the collection, stay true to our core and provide more jobs.

How can fans stay connected to the movement?
  Follow @8and9 on IG.

Do you have any final words? Thank you to J.Prince & Nine5Four Magazine. I appreciate you coming out and taking the time.  

Last modified on Thursday, 05 March 2015 10:03
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