Michael Kuhle, Epaulet
"The biggest mistake that I've made is designing for someone outside of my customer base. As much as I might personally admire really directional and off-kilter designs, our customers ultimately come to us for things which are modern, versatile, and classic. When I've tried to make things which are too trendy and expensive, they've generally flopped. That's not what guys want from our brand.
"Overall, this experience has helped me to keep centered. You can't—and shouldn't try to be—all things to all people. Doing good clothing design isn't a speech, it's a conversation. You have to listen to your customers and work to make what they're really looking for. You need to push the envelope and use your own vision, but you should be conscious of delivering a product that people will want and accept from you. Ultimately, I'm very good at selling navy sportcoats, wingtips, and slim trousers. I need to leave the hardcore directional streetwear stuff to the people who do it best."