17 January 2011

What More Do You Need?: Power & Wealth

In Los Angeles, having a personal and unique style is everything. As one can see, trends differ by the second. One minute, it’s white tees—the next is skinny jeans. Local clothing designers Derek Brown, Evan Ingram and Lance Gipson are not only following trends, but they are setting them. With their trademark saying, “We Killin It,” they are making big moves in L.A. with their clothing label, Power & Wealth. Currently sponsoring Tay F. 3rd, Lance J, Walter Devon, City Limitz, and working with Mitch DeGuzman from Power 106, Power & Wealth are slowly planning a silent fashion coup d’état. Head designer, Derek Brown, found time to sit down with PBK for an interview.

Tell me about yourself. Where are you from?
My name is Derek. I am 23 years old. I was raised in Los Angeles, but currently live in Lakewood. I love doing graphic design. I actually stopped for a couple of years, but now I'm slowly making my way back. My next passion is making clothing. It started off as a hobby, but soon after, started to grow on me. Everything that I've gone through throughout my life, molded me into who I am today. I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to do what I love, because many people aren't able to.
How would you define your personal style?
My style is a bit different depending on what I'm doing that day. If I'm just waking up and have to run somewhere, 9 times out of 10, I would throw on a t- shirt, slim fit jeans, and vans, as most people would describe as a "skater boy." I couldn't skate if my life depended on it, but that's what most people would consider my every day look. When it's time to go out, I would dress it up a bit more, throwing on fitted jeans, a button up shirt, and a nice jacket, or blazer.

How long have you worked as a designer?
Since 2008

How did you get into fashion design?
A friend of mine knew that I went to school for a career in Graphic Design, and he asked me if I wanted to join them in the clothing line they're trying to build up, and that's how it all started.

Who are the members of your team? How did you all meet and conceptualize Power & Wealth?
The team consists of Evan Ingram, Lance Gipson and me. We went to high school with each other. Afterwards, we all remained pretty close. Since we know each other inside and out, it made sense for us to team up.

How would you define the fashion trends in LA?
L.A. has some of the biggest, craziest trends, and they change constantly. Just a few days ago, my friends and I, were laughing at how the trends have changed since we were in high school. Everyone who was into the hip-hop scene wore baggy jeans with an extra large white t-shirt. As long as your t-shirt looked brand new, and your shoes looked new, no one would make fun of you. Looking back, I realize how silly we looked, but I'm sure, in five years, I might be saying the same thing. Nowadays, it feels as if the urban scene in L.A. is mostly split up into two sections: those that wear skinny jeans with vans, and others that wear loose fitted jeans with a pair of Nike's or Jordans. There are others that set their own trends, bringing back bright colored corduroy's, with a v-neck and a scarf. Some might think it doesn't look good, but others admire it. Everyone has their own opinion.

Describe your philosophy about the art of fashion.

Fashion is everywhere you look. Every time you turn the corner, there's a chance you can see a garment that you've never seen before. It makes you want to walk up to that person and ask, "Where did you get that?" Even though they might not tell you where they bought their clothes, you're automatically intrigued after seeing what they had on. That's one reason why I chose to join the team, because I want to give people that, "Oh, where did can I buy that?" feeling.

What about fashion as a business?
Soon after I joined Power & Wealth, we decided we wanted to make clothes for more than just our friends and family. We wanted to branch out and eventually sell our clothes to the mainstream. Fashion Design is one of the most lucrative professions in the world, but also one of the most costly, especially if you're starting from the ground up. Everyone needs clothes, and everyone is looking to jump on the next biggest trend. This is the reason why the fashion industry is booming right now.

What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?
The first thing that I ever made was a basic t-shirt with the words "I <3 Cake."

Describe the general process you go through to design and realize a piece of clothing. How long does it take you to construct a piece?
First, we create a design, or a graphic. Then we brainstorm on what article of clothing we want to put that design on, and if it better fits on girl or guy clothing.

The length of time depends from piece to piece. If it's a simple design, such as a logo on a regular t-shirt, then it will be completed in a day or two, but a more complex design might take a bit longer to create. We also have to come to a decision on which type of clothing we should produce to add our design to, so this could take up to a month or more to get everything perfect before we expose it to the public.

What do you believe makes a quality article of clothing?That's a tough question because everyone values their clothing in a different way. A vintage shirt from a vintage clothing store could be held to the same standard as one bought on Melrose. It all depends on personal preference.

What are your favorite fabrics to work with and why?
You can't go wrong with cotton. It's the fabric of our lives. That made me smile a little.

Who are some of your favorite designers? What are some of your favorite clothing stores/catalogs/websites?
I don't necessarily have a favorite designer, but I do have favorite lines. I admire lines such as Crooks & Castle, and L & O, because they started just as we did, from the bottom. If they can make it, I have hope that we will also.

What do you like and dislike about designing clothes?
I love the process of designing, the brainstorming part is my favorite. We get inside each others heads, and can accept, or reject and idea.

What I dislike the most about designing clothes is the dealing with the business side of it. It's not so much that I dislike it, but we all wish we could just do everything our own way, and don't have to worry about laws, trademarks, and protecting our assets. Unfortunately, we do. That’s just reality. It is one of the most difficult aspects of having a clothing line, but the way you handle the business end, can make or break you in the long run.

What are some of your accomplishments as a designer?
The first time we got our clothes into a store was a big accomplishment to me. At that moment, I realized this meant more to me than just being a hobby.

What inspires you?
Like one of the previous questions, I'm inspired by other clothing lines that started exactly how we did and are making a name for themselves.

If you could do anything else, what would it be?
I would most likely be a freelance Graphic Designer.

Do you have any advice for up-and-coming designers?
My advice for up-and-coming designers is to stay true to what you love. If things start getting difficult, just stick with it and keep it pushing. The more you commit, the bigger the reward you will receive in the end.

How can customers buy your clothing?
Our website, Powerxwealth.com is currently being developed. For now, check us out on Twitter @Powerxwealth. Email us at Powerxwealth@yahoo.com. Individually, each of them can be reached on Twitter at @DerekB_PxW, @KingEvan_PxW and @LanceG_PxW.

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