Interview with Brand Co Creator James Gibson
What was the inspiration behind the creation of MESSRS R/R?
In founding Messrs. R/R, I think we were trying to harness and express the complexity of the modern-day man. No one is one thing or the other. We are all blends and mixtures of this and of that. For instance, if you look at the Spotify library of Que, one of the founders of Messrs, you might find everything from Ravel to 2 Chainz. I truly believe there is this Pangea phenomenon occurring where the borders that separate folks' interests and passions are disappearing in a lot of ways. What that means is that you can't judge a book by its cover. You have to dig into the pages and examine the footnotes to see what makes someone tick. A small part of that story is the clothing they wear, and we hope to be a vehicle for that expression.
How did you come up with the name for the brand?
The R/R represents the complexity and duality we believe exists in the modern man. You can be rough yet refined, a rake but romantic. "Messrs." is the naming convention used to identify multiple "misters." There are three of us that founded Messrs R/R- Que Lynch, Nene Kisseih and myself. So, you could identify us by saying- Mr. Lynch, Mr. Kisseih, and Mr. Gibson or you could say, Messrs. Lynch, Kisseih, and Gibson. For us, that convention demonstrates the reverence we have for being respected and respectful. The long and short of it was this when I was growing up my grandfather told me to never leave a woman with less respect than she had when she met you. We believe in that idea. The idea that no matter the circumstance, no matter the occasion, there is room to carry yourself like a gentleman and we made clothes to reflect that sentiment and wanted a name that would do the same.
How would you describe the brand's aesthetic
We make tailored workwear with panache. That means that our garments are a combination of the elegance and refinement of tailored wear and the rugged functionality of American workwear, finished with a devil-may-care attitude. We synthesize each of those elements with the goal of creating unique garments that are beautiful, purpose-built and steeped in heritage. So, for example, our M. Oxford shirt is made from Oxford fabric sourced from Europe. The Oxford is heavy and sturdy but has also been washed on the inside making it soft and supple so when you put it on you feel like you are wearing your favorite t-shirt. The collar is elegant and spread, but also has a workwear tab to secure it. The yoke is curved and triple stitched. And the chest pocket is a "workwear-inspired" utility pocket with a hidden smugglers' compartment, which is an MRR innovation. That shirt epitomizes the rough yet refined nature of Messrs. R/R.
Where do you draw inspiration for the brand designs?
We look to the heritage presented by tailored-wear and workwear to find creative ways to meld those two worlds together into garments that are altogether new and unique. On top of that, I think we rely pretty heavily on our tastes. I do not believe any of us would describe ourselves as "fashion designers." Instead, I believe we have a very pure and distilled sense of our personal and collective ethos and aesthetic, and that translates into us being able to create garments that we want to wear- garments that were missing from our closets. That said, we also understand that to some extent the old saying "Vox Populi, Vox Dei," "the voice of the people is the voice of God," is true. We are not just designing for ourselves. But we are betting on ourselves to a certain extent. Betting that our vision of what it means to be a man and how that reflects in clothing will appeal to others.
What have been some of the challenges with developing an independent brand?
I think the greatest challenge of developing an independent brand is the same as running any small business- doing it all yourself. We are three people who are passionate about what we do and sharing our vision, but we are only three people. That is both exciting and a challenge. But, unlike producing widgets, we have an advantage because of amidst all of the chaos presented by sourcing and scheduling and logistics, we get to retreat to the design process, and that usually means a bottle of Rittenhouse Rye whiskey, dope music and garments we are proud to put our name on. These moments quickly remind us why we do what we do.
Who would you love to see wear MESSRS R/R?
There are certainly some cultural icons out there that we think to reflect our aesthetic and whom we would love to wear our clothes. Idris Elba, James Blake or Yasiin Bey come to mind. But frankly, we are more focused on having the regular guy who digs what we are doing and who feels that our clothes represent who he is rock our stuff. We think that is the litmus test.
We plan on continuing to put one foot in front of the other. We have grown a lot over the last couple of years. We have gone from offering accessories and handmade leather goods to diving headlong into the proper cut and sew garments. We plan on continuing that growth and producing more pieces we can be proud of, and that resonates with people. We also want to grow the philanthropic arm of Messrs. R/R. We have a project called (MR)2 where a percentage of every dollar spent with us by our customers goes towards creating brand new garments to be donated to folks trying to get back on their feet. So the better job we do on the front end of creating unique and quality garments and connecting with our consumer's the more significant impact we can have on the back end donating new clothes to those who need it most.