The Urban Industry Journal catches up with New York based brand, ICNY Clothing and chats to its owner and creative director, Mike Cherman about the present, past and future of this illuminating collection.
Hey Mike, hope you’re well? Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
My name is Mike Cherman, I’m a 23 year old Designer currently living in Brooklyn, New York. I am a designer inside and out.
From what we know, the brand was born out of necessity following a bad experience while riding your bike. Tell us about the history of the brand, how did you get started?
It started off as a side project. I got hit by a car when I was on my bike about two and a half years ago and my bike got ran over. I was lying in the street, bleeding, thinking to myself “what the hell could I have done to keep myself safer?” Side note: I was wearing all black.
It started, for me, working at the Nike Bowery Stadium; I was a designer and had access to a whole bunch of machines. I was able to test product, use laser machines, use embroidery machines, different heat transfer applications, and I began making socks and moved on to making jackets and hats. For me ICNY Clothing began as a solution for myself. The solution wasn’t about creating something to sell to other people, the solution was about creating something to keep myself safe while riding at night. From there, Bowery Stadium closed and I moved into LQQK Studios in Brooklyn, which is a full-scale print studio, and yeah I just started testing and making product. It started with a line of five shirts and a pair of socks.
How did you land on the name ICNY? Is there a meaning behind it?
ICNY means (EYE-SEE-NEW-YORK) Simple as that, the brand comes from the idea that your clothes should perform for you and function and visibility are the core values we strive to uphold.
How would you describe an average day at the ICNY HQ?
At the office by 9, leaving by 8. We’re constantly trying to improve, grow and perform. A day is filled with designing, conceptualizing, dreaming and doing.
When you start designing a piece, how do you approach it? Do you consider functionality or style first?
Function is at the core of everything we do, but when building a new product we try to up-play the cool side of each function we’re trying to achieve. Making something functionally fashionable is the goal of each garment.
Is 3M hard to work with? Does it limit you at all?
Reflective is one of the hardest and most expensive materials to work with. It is made of millions of glass beads – something that people wouldn’t normally think can perform or be worn on your body with any comfort. It sometimes limits us with how much focus we can put into the little details as reflective costs so much but as we grow and develop we are learning how to use it more effectively so we can achieve all the little details and the highest visibility reflective standards.
Having previously worked for the likes of Nike, has this had an impact on the way in which you approach design?
Absolutely. I worked with some amazingly talented individuals, saw how a big company like Nike operates on all scales, both big and small, and it showed me what I did and did not want to have happen with my own business. They had a lot of cooks in the kitchen at Nike, and now I’m grateful for the opportunity to be the only cook in the kitchen alongside our very, very small team at ICNY Clothing – so I’m on the other side of the spectrum now. I’d love to build a select team over time, but only if it makes sense. I don’t want a massive team unless everyone is playing their part. Working at Nike opened my eyes to the possibility of what can be achieved.
You’ve been working on some pretty cool collaboration’s recently with the likes of Raised By Wolves and more recently talk of Staple, do you see it as an important part of building the brand?
Working with friends and with people who do things we don’t normally do to come together and make a great product always feels good. It helps to cross pollenate our fan base and bring them all together. Working with Staple goes so much deeper in the fact that it’s a relationship for me that has come full circle. I got arrested back in the day for trying to work with Jeff and it just didn’t work out. So for us to be able to be on a level playing field now, at my tender age of 23 working with someone I’ve looked up to since the 8th Grade, I’d say that’s pretty cool.
Would you consider working with footwear?
Yes, footwear was always a passion of mine growing up. I used to sit in class all day coming up with different ideas for the air bubble in sneakers. It amazes me. All the little technologies that are utilized to make one sneaker, and how everything comes together to do the most basic thing in your life: to help you navigate your day and keep your feet comfortable and ready for any challenge.
What brands out there inspire you and ICNY?
CP Company, Stone Island, Rapha, Isaora
It seems that increasingly more brands are applying functional features into their designs including 3M materials. How do you keep ICNY Clothing different from the rest?
The difference between us and most of the brands using reflective materials is purely that we are doing it with function in mind. For most brands outside of sportswear, it’s just a trend to them. To us, it’s a lifestyle – Safety is of the highest importance.
Talk us through your latest release for Fall/Winter 2014, what’s new? Do you have a favourite piece?
The rain jacket, the diamond crewneck and Dust Yourself T-Shirt. All things that truly represent who I am, what I love and employ my design mind 1000%
What’s your future plans for ICNY?
Bigger, Faster, Stronger, Better.