BIG IN DA STREET

STRIVERS ROW Jason Geter and Emmett Harrell Interview

In MAGAZINE on January 3, 2012 at 3:45 am

Founded in 2009 by , Strivers Row pulls from Southern American traditions and firm grounding in both fashion and entertainment. The dominant aesthetic is a romance between denim and hunting apparel, with all the neatly detailed garments fabricated in Japan. We met with Geter and Harrell to discuss the inspiration for Strivers Row and their definition of a lifestyle brand.


Our interview is complimented by an exclusive editorial spread sharing the Strivers Row Fall 2011 collection.


Interview by: Adrian King Carter of i986/dydc for BIG IN DA STREET

Photography by: Bryan Sona

Model: Lamine N’dour

BIDS: For those unaware of the minds operating Strivers Row, can you give us some background information on some of the work you’re recognized for in your individual careers?

Jason:
Since the age of 21, I’ve worked in the music business.  I’ve worked with B.O.B., Big Boi (Outkast), T.I., DJ Drama, 8Ball N MJG and more. Through out the years I’ve had the opportunity to produce the ‘Hustle N Flow” soundtrack which produced the first hip hop Oscar winning song; and I’ve also produced a #1 movie “Takers”.  Another highlight for me was a speaking role appearance on “Entourage” which is one of my favorite shows.Emmett: Some would say I’m best known for denim, either urban or general fashion since the early 90s. I’ve been creative director at Rocawear, Phat Farm, Sean John, Echo and so many others as a ghost designer. Later stepping out with Akademiks on my own was a major moment. My brother and I later started PRPS and now along with Jason, our focus is on Strivers Row.

BIDS: What exactly brought you two together to form Strivers Row?

Jason:

Our history in our fields allows us to have a bit of wisdom,  which is cool because you really learn what it means to “work smart and not hard.”  We figured what could be better then coming together and providing a new fresh perspective on the business.Emmett:

Together, Jason and I represent the best of both worlds. There is a great deal that goes into starting a lifestyle brand. We draw upon each others respective strengths, Jason has a strong background in marketing, lots of connections with the entertainment side (movies, music, etc). My expertise in the fashion industry and being well versed in history are critical components to our brand. Combining our great appreciation for history and both being from the south, it just seems to be a natural fit. It’s not so far fetched as
some may perceive.BIDS:

What propelled the idea of a brand? Was this a project waiting for the right time, or a void in the market you guys felt you could fill perhaps?

Jason:

I would say that we definitely saw a void and a real need in the market. Which may sound funny being that they’re a million brands in the market. But, when it comes to quality, details and telling a complete consistent story most lines are falling short. I like to think that “Strivers Row” is a state of mind or a lifestyle, which makes it bigger then just clothes.Emmett:

Actually, we started Strivers Row at the worst possible economic time. Our lifestyle brand draws heavy inspiration from the 1920s and 1930s choosing not to listen to the conventional wisdom encouraging us to follow everyone else…We are not just mere “designers” of men’s clothing, we are curators of the best historical design the world has to offer. Just for a moment consider how much our ancestors did with considerably less…we both are driven and talented and were willing to take a gamble. Honestly, we felt that Strivers Row could only grow with the economic climate, be it a rise or a fall…it’s just a great deal of historical correlations to our brand.

BIDS:

Strivers Row garments continually show a strong attention to detail. Speaking of detail, you guys implement a heavy dose of historical value within the line. How important is it to include these components and to create this balance?Jason:

With “Strivers” we do a ton of research; Be it through reading, traveling or shopping.  And we do believe in sharing our knowledge in a “non preachy” way.Emmett:

Every piece in our collections tells a story. A garment isn’t made just because…it must serve a purpose. Strivers Row is the premiere vintage replica brand. What some may view as a simple pocket or button hasn’t been placed for just the look, it’s functional. I’ve had this kind of obsession with clothes — not only for their fit or fabric, but also for the memories they evoke. Vintage pieces have a story to tell — they are the books and photographs that make my library, each garment chronicles stories of the past and the men who wore them.

BIDS:
The menswear market we know today is flooded with everything from vintage Americana to classic workwear and military inspired garments to the point most seem to think it’s a bit redundant. What do you guys feel you bring to market that sets Strivers Row apart from others?

Jason:

I agree that it is getting pretty redundant out there.  But when done right you’ll always stand out amongst the crowd.  When I look at most of the people behind the brands out I can’t help but notice that they don’t look like us or move like us from a lifestyle perspective..  So that factor separates us alone. The stories that we’ll gravitate towards are different.  I also feel that many fall short when it comes to translating items into todays wearability standards.Emmett:

Everyone tries to do just one thing…we take everything and create more bridges. We want to create the new basic classic, taking a traditional basic silhouette and adding those details not readily found in other brands. In essence, we are bridging the gap between the classic gentleman’s wear and new men’s wear. We try not to make anything plain…don’t get me wrong, we want the novelty and sometimes the over the top but it has to be wearable..mixing fabrics, the construction, details…better yet, view our deigns from the inside out. The amount of detail is unrivaled; moreover, it makes our garments not the cheapest, but they are not the most expensive…we create affordable quality for the modern working man.
BIDS:

For Fall 2011 the collection has a military feel. What was the inspiration behind this particular collection? What kind of process do you guys go through when creating the concepts or direction for each collection?Jason:

We certainly focus a lot on military and hunting.  Once again we do tons of research and a lot of talking.  Then Emmett goes into a bat cave and comes back like a mad scientist with a new invention.

Emmett:
Not just military, but hunting, too. In keeping with what affords us inspiration, history…you will find more naval inspired garments, too. In particular, our muse was Robert Smalls. Smalls was not a man who would allow circumstances to dictate who he was, or what he was to become. Instead he refused to allow unfair circumstances or even the matter of slavery limit his potential. He strove to secure his own destiny. See this is what I do…this is the detail and thought behind every garment. In relation to the hunting inspirations, that’s definitely more personal for me. My father introduced me to hunting…not so much for the kill but the sport of being a gentlemen’s game. I grew up in a military town, so our consumer will definitely see the World War II camel print, that is actually a staple in the collection. our officer’s trousers…oh and the wing tips! Those are serious! Again, we are building upon the classic..simple and clean for an ever evolving consumer.BIDS:

What are some of your favorite pieces in the Fall 2011 collection?Jason:

In this collection I have so many favorites!  I love the way that we’re using corduroy, the shirt jackets, camo pants, khaki selvedge jean, the high top boots, I can go on and on.

Emmett:
Wow! I know it’s going to seem cliche but I love everything in the collection…if I didn’t it just would not be. Our five pocket camouflage pants, our khaki selvedge denim that is heavily destroyed, the selvedge hunting shirts, …oh the camouflage bubble jacked…mixed fabric hunting jackets. Seriously, there are so many items that I love and honestly, the response has been great..oh wait the vintage wing tip suede boots..hi-top…amazing! And with each season we do one or two vintage bags, this time it’s the bank bag, camouflage with the heavy lock on top…see we continue to bridge, not just doing the normal and with superior quality and attention to detail but never sacrificing the functional.

BIDS:
From the few photos that have surfaced, it is clear that the Strivers Row Flagship (located in Atlanta, GA) layout definitely took some thought. For those that have not been, tell us a little about the store?Jason:

With the store we’re always adding to it just as you would at your home.  People are always impressed when they visit, just as we put a lot of energy into the line we’ve done the same with the store..  Expect to see a lot of great antiques and the best customer service.

Emmett:
Strivers Row is a lifestyle, so our store is no different. It’s supposed to give you the feeling of an era of history…the gentleman’s club, the old cigar rooms or trophy rooms…we want you to be immersed in our brand. Our consumers can definitely expect the complete boutique experience…we take it seriously and it’s important for us to offer superior customer service to the distinguished gentleman. the smart guy, the working man…the next generation of Strivers.BIDS:

Does the flagship store stock other brands? If so, name a few and tell us how you go about selecting brands that stand well with Strivers Row.

Jason:
Yes we carry a few good brands such as Stone Island, Dita Eyewear and The Brooklyn Circus.  We’re also currently getting into carrying some great vintage pieces.Emmett:

We do stock other brands from PRPS, Mr. Freedom, C.P. Company, Engineered Garments and a few more. Basically, we stock brands that are in line with what we do…the lifestyle.BIDS:

Although, most are extremely tired of sub par collaborative projects, there remains a few that actually put some effort into a product between two entities that make sense. Do you guys see any collaborative efforts in the future?

Emmett:
We are doing collaborations this holiday and spring with Penfield, Atrium NYC, and Brooklyn Circus. This season we are setting aside a great deal of time to co-brand footwear and accessories, plus we are looking to do more in terms of philanthropy. It’s important for us to pay it forward in our global community. So definitely look forward to a host of event with celebrities and artists. And our ladies line will launch during the holiday that’s definitely about to make a statement.BIDS:

What is the impression you would like people to know Strivers Row for?Jason:

United We Bargain, Divided We Beg!!!Emmett:

“United we bargain, divided we beg.” In essence, Strivers Row is a personal expression of a lifestyle that respects the juxtaposition of form and function, past and present, and in an environment that is both relaxed yet refined. We are the lifestyle brand for men, who appreciate the finer things in life, knowing you answer to no one, yet inspire everyone!

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