Era: The Wonder Years
"Charizmatik was a brand that came up alongside Staple in the early-'90s. At this point, there was a gang of us that came up the same time. We were actually pretty close—it was like 10.Deep, Milkcrate, Charizmatik, Double Down, myself. We were somewhat the core of it but we all kind of started in the same year in the mid '90s and we were all of the same philosophy, same mindset.
"Zen, the name of the founder of Charizmatik, if I had to put a bet down back then was, in my opinoion, the most likely to succeed out of all of us. It’s ironic that he’s the one out of all of us that was the first to disappear as a brand.
"I just thought he had the most intellect and the most high-level thinking and best execution and his brand was just so straight on strong. He had all these hidden message labels inside of shirts. Every shirt had a different lining and he was charging a lot of money for his stuff, like $50 retail. Every shirt had like multiple levels of thinking and I just thought that man this is going to be it! Charizmatik is killing all of us! It's so much better than Staple, so much better than 10.Deep.
"I think Charizmatik not succeeding is a testament to someone who has too beautiful of a mind. In order to survive in this business, in any business, but specifically fashion and apparel, you kind of have to have a balance of a creative mind and a business mind. If you’re a true, true artist, you can’t really be successful in fashion because there’s a lot of dirtiness that happens in fashion that you have to deal with.
"If you’re an artist you execute by any means necessary; You don’t care how long it takes, you don't care how much it takes. When I started my brand, it was very admiral that Charizmatik operated like this, but later on as I become more seasoned, I realize why Charizmatik failed. It was too pure as an art form.
"The 'Listen to Your Heart' tee and others from the brand were always a favorite of mine, I guess because I heard it straight from Zen’s mouth and got the concept. As a design, it’s whatever. I think it was just more of a personal thing from my standpoint. Charizmatik had such an important effect on the development of Staple and although we were friends there was a bit of comradery and competition happening as well as we were trying to one-up each other with each collection. Zen would always one-up all of us.
"Even though I might have more of a balanced business mind with Staple, there’s that seed of Charizmatik that I’m always trying to inject in Staple. Just some level of thinking and the whole concept of positive social contagion that we always try to have in every piece of clothing. It's like a little bit of Zen’s spirit is in all of our clothing. It was important to have that sort of clique back then, we would travel to tradeshows back then and complain about the industry."