Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin - James Perse

Episode Date: January 10, 2024

James Perse is a fashion designer from Los Angeles, California. The son of the founder of the innovative boutique, Maxfield, Perse grew up in a family connected to the fashion world. In 1994, he went ...out on his own, creating his eponymous brand, which today is famous for making clothes that are simple and comfy. He focuses on using soft materials like cotton and making high-quality clothes. From cozy t-shirts to nice dresses, his “casual luxury” designs are loved by people all around the world. Beyond fashion, Perse cares about the environment and tries to use natural materials and eco-friendly methods. Today, James Perse is a global brand, operating nine company-owned stores, with six located in his native California and others in New York, Colorado, and Las Vegas.  ------ Thank you to the sponsors that fuel our podcast and our team: House of Macadamias https://www.houseofmacadamias.com/tetra ------ Squarespace https://squarespace.com/tetra ------ LMNT Electrolytes https://drinklmnt.com/tetra

Discussion (0)
Starting point is 00:00:00 Tetragramminton. Tetragramminton. Tetragramminton. Tetragramminton. Tetragramminton. Tetragramminton. Tetragramminton. Tetragramminton.
Starting point is 00:00:16 Tetragramminton. Tetragramminton. Tetragramminton. It's funny because I actually solve a lot of my problems at work while I'm sleeping. Yeah, I understand. And I also come up with the best ideas while I'm sleeping. You also come up with the worst ideas while you're sleeping, but you'll sit there at night
Starting point is 00:00:38 all night long thinking about these ideas. Good or bad. And then by morning, it actually solves the problem or you just kind of, you know, push it aside. Yeah, I have all kinds of rules with myself about not doing that. I'm very curious about that because I try to focus on my breathing. Yeah. So when I start getting all worked up and I just go on and on and on and on. Then if I can literally just focus on nothing but my breath, then I can fall back asleep.
Starting point is 00:01:13 And then traveling and going all over the world, that makes me completely delirious. You know, when you're adding kind of the sleep deprivation and while your mind is going. You know, I was born and raised going down to Cabo probably since I was eight years old. And you know, Cabo, it's truly, if I just get in my Jeep and I just disappear on sort of the dirt roads by myself, there's something about the energy down there. There's something about that, you know, people, most people would think you're kind of crazy because I kind of geek out on trying to figure out and study a little bit about what is so calming about there.
Starting point is 00:01:58 And I've got all these surfroom friends, you know, they've been all over the world. And they always talk about there's something super special about the energy down there. Like if they compare it to places all over the world. And they always talk about there's something super special about the energy down there. Like if they compare it to places all over the world that they've heard, and you know, you can imagine they've been in the middle of nowhere. But I believe it's something with the current,
Starting point is 00:02:17 the meditative sound of the ocean. I start to get into all these kind of, the different sounds of the ocean ways where, you know, if it's crashing and it's loud and it's constant, white sound, that actually gives me anxiety when it's kind of like this meditative current that kind of calmly, you know, it's this big wave, yes, it's this big wave, this big crash, and then it sucks back, and then it does, and it gives you a pause, and then it does it again. Because when you think about it, like where we are is we're actually on the surf. So you can actually go on the ocean,
Starting point is 00:02:58 it's in the middle of nowhere out on the East Cape, which is what I consider what it was like when I was growing up. There was nothing there. And then I've watched for the last 20 years, you know, the whole town got built up. But because the current in the main corridor of Cabo is so kind of violent and a heavy shore break, they really don't want people going in the water because it can get pretty aggressive. So funny enough, it's this huge tourist destination, or I should say Southern California destination, amazing spot to go for two, three days and to just relax and sort of put everything
Starting point is 00:03:42 aside. But ironically, nobody's going in the ocean. They can sit in a swimming pool, beautiful sun, sit in a swimming pool, and you feel like you did something all day long. And I just sort of say, it's something to do with the ocean and the current, the way it just puts you in this relax, you know, meditative mode. It's funny. I was in Dubai the other day, and I'm sitting there for the first time, I downloaded that calm app. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:04:10 But I was trying to find a wave, and for example, that wave. And there was nothing, there was no sound, there was nothing that sort of reminded me of it. But maybe we have someone record the wave. It would be kind of. I'd love to hear it. I'm telling you. It's a good wave, it's a great wave. It would be kind of I love to hear it. I'm telling you it's a good wave
Starting point is 00:04:25 It's a good sound. It's a great sound and if you think about it with all these people going down there They're not doing anything you just like how are you entertained for three days just sitting in the swimming pool and you there's something that is relaxing You know where we are is off the beaten path So I kind of went off to the East Cape. It's sort of starting all over again. The property that we have down there is kind of built into the dunes and it's very kind of minimalist
Starting point is 00:04:55 and it's very kind of outdoor living. You know, our intent was to create, to be able to share what I know is that that special, you know, when you think of everyone who is kind of same thing from, you know, work, Southern cow, want that getaway, wanna let it all behind. Not go to a resort where you're sort of in another bubble, but truly experience sort of...
Starting point is 00:05:23 It's like a personal retreat for you that you're sharing and opening to other people. Pretty much, yes. It's my love, my passion, and then I wanted to sort of share that experience. And what's been fascinating is I was always nervous that people wouldn't get it, that they would say, where am I? Why am I out in the middle of nowhere? You know, what is there to do? And I'm telling you, there's been a single person, you know, because there are people who kind of live in that,
Starting point is 00:05:53 you know, they need to go, you know, from that insulated kind of bubble and feel safe and protected. And I'm telling you, there hasn't been anybody that hasn't gone to visit our property or experienced this and haven't come back and felt changed where they have actually not just kind of recouped, but just felt alive and just felt what was so special of getting out of their typical environment, which says to me they feel and they see it why I was so attracted to it, what it meant to me. And so, you know, for us, I've always kind of had this dream of,
Starting point is 00:06:35 you know, going from a product brand to an experiential brand. And I've always put my own personal experiences and whatever I love is what I want to share. And that was the objective. And then in the same time, as you know, I'm just obsessed with architecture and I'm obsessed with construction, I'm obsessed with building. When did that start? It actually started, I think at the beginning, when I first started the clothing brand, we used to go to these trade shows. And you were always just kind of stuck in a,
Starting point is 00:07:18 you know, in someone's format or in a box. And I started to see other brands, like I would go to the Magic Show. I don't know if you remember, the Magic Show in Las Vegas was the big apparel brand. And I would always look at companies like Calvin Klein, Massimo, and they would start to pull this brand image together, this environment,
Starting point is 00:07:42 because back then retail for brands was not a big thing. Everyone's so close. Early 90s? It was 90s, yeah, early 90s, because I was at a high school in 91, so I got into this and it was early 90s. And I would start to just go to these trade shows. And... Why did you go to these trade shows.
Starting point is 00:08:06 And... Why did you go to the trade show? Well, if I go back to the beginning of the story, what really happened was the summer before I went to college, which lasted six months, but I was at boarding school. I thought I was gonna be a hockey player. I was obsessed with it. Then I realized when you go back east, I'm not going to be a professional hockey player. These kids are going to be professional hockey players, but I had a great time. And I saw you. Yeah, I saw you from so Cal, I don't
Starting point is 00:08:36 know, it's strange, but yeah. So I came back home for the summer. You know, my father, I grew up in this world of Maxfield, you know, high-fashion, retail store that my father exposed me to pretty much my whole life that had no interest in. Tell me the whole story of Maxfield. So my father started Maxfield and I'm gonna say late 60s early 70s. Here in LA, you know, this is actually fascinating because I'm starting to go into the depths of this with my father and try to understand how all the dots had connected, but the first story that he did, he opened on Santa Monica, big Santa Monica, and Doheny. So two or three doors down from the troubidor.
Starting point is 00:09:26 So in the, let's call it the early 70s, you know, he had started as like a, I think he had started with jeans and then he got into, corkies was his big explosion. But what my father started doing is he started going internationally, started discovering brands that are such massive brands today. You know, whether it's Georgia or Manny who is still selling, you know, in a closet to Yogyamamoto, Koma Garcine, I mean, I can go on and on from Rick Owens, eventually Chrome Hearts and so on and so forth. At a time when all of those were niche, cool boutique labels. They were unknown in America. That's the crazy part. He was essentially one of the first dot connectors of going international, bringing it to Los Angeles
Starting point is 00:10:21 in the entertainment industry. And, you know, the less, obviously less commercial brands, the unknown, the avant-garde, and he would put it on, you know, musicians and actors and Hollywood agents and so on and so forth. And then the visibility would start to, you know. Do you know where he got the inspiration to travel the world looking for these brands? That's a good question.
Starting point is 00:10:47 It actually started in Europe. I just think one thing kind of led to the other. I think my stepmother at the time was fascinated with, you know, different fashion around the world. Did she have good taste as well? Yeah, she had very good taste, but it's interesting because I was young, so I don't really know what the evolution of my father's sense of taste.
Starting point is 00:11:12 What I could tell you as a kid is that he always stood out like a sore thumb. So it didn't matter what it was, like he was in the minimalism in the early 80s, where nobody knew, he looked like the oddball by wearing kind of white head to toe or wearing, you know, linen head to toe or wearing, you know, I mean, I have all these amazing old photos, but something that is so common today was totally out of the norm back in those days.
Starting point is 00:11:47 And was his story a reflection of him? Yeah, for sure. It was definitely sort of always his constant evolution and his progression into, you know, fashion. He always had his point of view. He always had, he was a curator. He was somebody who knew how to pull all the pieces together and tell a story. I mean, from the architectural aspect, the environment, the experience, the products,
Starting point is 00:12:20 the visual merchandising, and the attitude in the storytelling. So in the 80s, he was planting all these seeds for all these up-and-coming brands from all over the world, which eventually became a lot of local brands. The interesting thing about the first location, being a few doors down from the troubidor, that was like the same time that people like Elton John were discovering their career at the troubidor. And so there has to be a link to their connection of discovering his store and then the brands that fell into his store. So because they all became his customers, all of them. And so there's this fascinating kind of connection
Starting point is 00:13:14 between the Trubidor and then there's Dan Tana's as well. Yeah, so it's right in between, yeah. Yeah, they change. So it was like, I remember growing up as a kid, every sale, the sale was the big, the, sale. The sale was the big event of the year. And you know, there'd be lines down the block. Dan Tanna's running down the street with cocktails and drinks on their trays going back and forth
Starting point is 00:13:36 to the store, like surfing the store. And those days I guess you can just roll down the street with a bunch of cocktails. And so effectively that was kind of what my exposure was. And I had no interest in it. I literally had no interest in it. No, but you were exposed to it. It was in some ways normal to you.
Starting point is 00:13:58 Exactly. Well, it's funny because what annoyed me became my obsession. So, you know, I'd sit there with my father and he just couldn't just let it go. And he just, just like, had to figure out how to make this thing fit in this space and how to position it just right. And I just would be bored out of my mind and just annoyed and, you know, I've become that person. There's no question. You got the bug.
Starting point is 00:14:33 There's no, but there's no question to your point that I was exposed to it. Because you don't think about this as you're going along. You know, my father would always say it in me like, open your mind, you know. He forced everything on me. And my reaction was, Yeah, reject.
Starting point is 00:14:53 Reject, total rejection, right? Try this. Eat this. You look great. No, you know, and I just want to, like, I just listen to nothing and it's funny because we have a joke to this day where when I used to go to him for advice as I was building my career, he would give me advice and then I would do the opposite. Just because you didn't want to be like that.
Starting point is 00:15:18 I just, I don't know what it was. It was kind of, it's really funny because we're very opposite personalities and simultaneously perfectly the same. So there's parallels and then there's complete differences and somehow it just makes sense for us. It's our bond. I've been very lucky to have a father I'm very lucky to have a father that I was so close with my entire life. And as I've gotten older, you start to realize where your father rubbed off on you and the things that he exposed you to and the million things he's pounding in your head. I used to tease him about all of it. You know, if you went to his house, you know, we're talking 30 plus years ago and you look at the wood floors and, you know, he sanded them down because he took up the carpet and he sanded them down.
Starting point is 00:16:16 They're these unfinished floors and I'm like, you're going to finish these floors anytime soon, like, you know, and of course, then becomes the thing is this it's all about unfinished floors You know and and my father just had the magic eye that way he just had the taste and it took me years to sort of Evolved but but I was somebody who did not learn by someone explaining it to me I had to do it myself. I had to go through it myself. I had to go through trial and error. I had to make lots of mistakes. I had to practice and practice and practice.
Starting point is 00:16:55 So one summer, I got to, you know, I was driving his truck doing deliveries. And, you know, I don't even know how this happened, but I got obsessed with baseball hats at the time. And I asked him to let me make him some baseball hats. And so, I made him some baseball hats for the shop. I put my label in it with like a phone number with an answering machine like, you know what?
Starting point is 00:17:22 And so by the end of the summer, I put those hats in the store and then all the Hollywood entertainment guys started calling me. I love your hats. Can you make my cast and crew gifts and you know I want to make some of these hats. I'm doing a new movie or I'm doing it you know it's a you know a rock band wants to do it, or somebody's birthday wants to do it. And so I was at college for a short six months, but I was doing these gigs on the side. Like one of the first things I ever did was
Starting point is 00:17:55 Martin Scorsese's 50th birthday party hat. So a friend of mine called me and he's like, I need to do this, I need to do this in 48 hours. And I think, and I just figured it out, and I got a taste of making a couple hundred bucks. And then I was like, ooh, this is like, I am into this, right? So when I went away to school, I was from LA.
Starting point is 00:18:18 And I was like, I'd been to boarding school, I'd done it, I'd kinda started to grow up. A lot of these kids were getting away from home from the first time. They were just a bit of a hot mess, learning about drinking, and just being wild, and I was over it. I was just completely over it.
Starting point is 00:18:37 And I remember calling my parents, and I called my father. I kept asking, can I come home, can I come home? My grades were at disaster. So I worked my grades up to just destroyed in six months. He's like, why don't you stick it out to transfer so you can get your grades up. I just said, I'm telling you, I'm just unhappy. I just want to get out of here. Like, I'm just this is not for me. And he said, all right, let me think about our call back. And he literally, he said, I'll call you tomorrow
Starting point is 00:19:09 and he calls me three minutes later. And he says, you know what, if you're unhappy, come home. And I remember going like, oh, Jesus, like, what did I just do? Like, did I? Why don't I know what I'm talking about? Do I know what I'm doing? No, it's scary.
Starting point is 00:19:24 I was a little scared. No, it's scary. It was a little scary. Of course it's scary stuff. Yeah. So I went home, ended up in city college. And the next move was a friend of mine, and I decided, let's make some grateful dead, bootleg hats, and let's go chase, you know, let's go follow the dead around and sell these in the market.
Starting point is 00:19:47 Were you a deadhead? I was totally into the dead. Totally into the dead. We were very passionate about it, and we loved every aspect of, you know, the environment and sort of the overall vibe, and we, you know, we obsessed on it. And in fact, we love the small shows. You know, when you wind your way back to Vegas or whatever, you're like, oh, this is chaos after you just spend some time in Shoreline and CalExpo and like you would have an experience.
Starting point is 00:20:17 And so anyways, we were in the parking lot selling these hats. And that was like the sort of the beginnings of it. And you know, and then you'd have to run away because we had a whole system because they would come in confiscate illegal grade of debt. You were a bootlegging. So they'd come in confiscate a box, but it was fun. Can you give me a quick lesson in bootlegging? Well, the truth was, in this case, when it was product, our quality destroyed. Every single thing out there.
Starting point is 00:20:52 Even the legitimate ones. Even the legitimate ones. It was all just junky merchandise. Like so, there was no real authenticity. It was just promotional cheap merchandise. And anybody who might be selling something aside. So I came from this world of quality. And my eye immediately was about quality.
Starting point is 00:21:13 It was always about that. My vision from the very beginning was how do I look at things, how do I identify things, and figure out how to elevate it. It was always about not what existed, it's what didn't exist. And I would find things that I loved and was passionate and loved out. I made the best version of that.
Starting point is 00:21:33 And try to create the best version. Yeah, great. So when we would have our hats, people would flip out because they were just nicer than everybody else's hats. They were just cooler. They were just the quality was there. And the, you know, as kids, we were off to the races
Starting point is 00:21:46 and ironically, I don't know, years later, but let's just say now, five years ago or something, I got a call from Bob Weir. He stopped in one of the stores in Boston, left his name and goes, I love to connect with James and that. They call me up, say, Bob Wears trying to find you. My heart just dropped.
Starting point is 00:22:10 I was just like, before I came back home again. Like, really? Like what? And it's funny because I had just watched the documentary and I kept looking at it going, I think he's wearing one of my shirts. Like, I think he is. I think it looks like it.
Starting point is 00:22:24 And he actually, Bob came and visited me. We connected immediately. He wanted to do a collab together. Amazing. And he just opened the door and we were off to the races. And it was just full circle. It was so special to me. It was so incredible.
Starting point is 00:22:43 And I told him, he had no idea. I told him, I said, do you realize I started selling bootleg grateful to that axe? And he loved it. And so it's been an amazing experience to go full circle and then create now that we've built a brand to be able to now collaborate together. It's so cool. Welcome to the House of Macadamias. Macadamias are a delicious superfood. Sustainably sourced directly from farmers.
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Starting point is 00:24:10 Coconut white chocolate and blueberry white chocolate. Visit houseofmacademias.com slash tetra. So then I started to say, okay, I want to professionalize this a little bit, this merchandising business. And it was still merchandising. It was still merchandising. Not my own label. You're doing great, old dead hats. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:24:40 Now you're doing other brands. I was doing, I was doing like, entertainment guys, promotional merchandise, I was doing Grateful Dead Bootleg hats, and then when it got... And you didn't have a store, it was never to the public. No, it wasn't to the public. It was through them. So then what happened was I started to try to get into the big merchandise or like hard rock cafe.
Starting point is 00:25:07 And so when the hard rock hotel had just opened, I was submitting, submitting, submitting, submitting, trying to get my ideas and my designs in. And finally, they grabbed one and they tested it. And effectively, in those days, there were unisex t-shirts. So there's just small, medium, large, extra large. There was no women's t-shirt, didn't exist. But it existed in the market in retail,
Starting point is 00:25:38 but just not in promotional merchandising. So that was my ideas. I just was like, this is what everyone's wearing on the street. I'm gonna bring this to just a very typical, you know, merchandising formula. And hard rock in those days, it was like, they were selling just gobs of merchandise. I mean, it was enormous.
Starting point is 00:25:58 And I was in my early 20s. I submitted it. I put in, they called it the Baby Doll T-shirt, and I got it in there, and within a kid you know, 24 or 48 hours sold out. They placed another order, probably three times the volume of the first order. So then it just skyrocketed.
Starting point is 00:26:23 And I remember, because the group sit in there going, they knew that this thing was gonna be a multi-million dollar t-shirt. And they're thinking, I'm not gonna give this to a kid, you know. And Peter Morton, who owned the hard rock at the time, he was probably my biggest fan and supporter because he just, he got it and he understood it and he'd call me and he'd say, when are you gonna get in here with some new shit?
Starting point is 00:26:54 And I would, oh, it's all I needed. That was my inspiration. So cool. It's almost like a benefactor in a way. Literally, Peter opening the door for me to going into real business is, you know, I feel like I owe everything to that opportunity. It was the first moment that it was a real business.
Starting point is 00:27:18 That was when I really tasted a real business. Interestingly, Peter's restaurant was a block away from your dad's store? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Across the street. Across the street, down the block. Yeah, so I grew up, we would go to Morton's all the time. And it's funny because even though Peter and my father knew each other, Peter was running a business.
Starting point is 00:27:39 He wasn't just gonna do something to do something. He, like, they were tough. They were very tough. And so he would ask me to bring in new products. Of course, that's all I needed. And then I'd stay up for three days straight, creating, designing. At those days, I had my own silk screen machine.
Starting point is 00:27:57 We were doing like a garage business, basically. It was a garage business. And I created all this new stuff. And I had created this t-shirt that was kind of based on the USA kind of at the time Ralph Lauren had been doing a big USA push. And so I did this big HRC kind of with the American flag and kind of did this thing. And I walked in the door and I remember I was like literally falling asleep,
Starting point is 00:28:27 Peter just grabs the bags, he opens them up, he starts laying them out all over the room and merchandising them on the file cabinets and everything and he just says, I love it. I love it all. Put it in all the cafes. And then he leaves the room. And then I'm sitting there with a board room of,
Starting point is 00:28:46 you know, 10 employees. And they pretty much said, you know, we're not gonna put them in all of the cafes, right? Like, meaning like, like, you're just too young for us to go that deep, right? And slowly but surely, and you know, and I had a couple more allies in the room that were
Starting point is 00:29:05 fantastic. So slowly but surely, I just kept proving myself, improving myself, delivering, delivering, delivering. I used to working with... Huge. It was giant merchandising, if you remember, that did all the rock and roll. That was the big merchandiser. So a kid who's making them in this garage is different
Starting point is 00:29:26 than who they're used to dealing with. Completely. Completely. And it would seem risky also because how do they know you're gonna be able to deliver? It makes total sense. Yeah. Like it makes total sense.
Starting point is 00:29:37 They just didn't fully quite realize how serious I was and how reliable I was gonna be. And then I would put more, I would put more into this than any one of those companies would ever even consider doing. And so they wouldn't have any way of knowing that. No, there's no way. So I had to prove myself. And the best thing is then Southwest Airlines had two for one deals to Vegas.
Starting point is 00:30:03 And we would stay up around the clock printing t-shirts, printing t-shirts, printing t-shirts. We were printing them in-house. I had my, I was running my own operation. I was buying even bigger, more printers, more printers and we would put them in these boxes thrown on Southwest. I have a bunch of friends go with me. We would get them.
Starting point is 00:30:22 We would just get a room. We'd finish tagging them all in the room, put them, you know, one of those, the cart that you put all your luggage on, and we'd pile up all the boxes, we'd roll it down and deliver it to the store, and then we'd hang out in Vegas for the weekend and sort of celebrate, so we made the delivery. It's such a great story. It's an amazing story. It was fun.
Starting point is 00:30:45 You know, at the end of the day, it was passion. And I was so driven. And all of this, it just started to come organically. And I remember when I was saying to my father and my mother and saying, like, I don't want to go to school anymore. Like, this is crazy. I mean, it goes, this is before the hard rock. But, you know, I was paying my own bills and they're like,
Starting point is 00:31:08 you know, are you sure? And I just said, listen, when my friends come out of college, I need this head start. I don't want to be a kid who comes out of school and is sort of like, now what? What am I going to do? And then like how I discover it. And what are the opportunities?
Starting point is 00:31:22 You know, I said, I'm on a roll. It's calling me. So then what started to happen is that grew from hard rock and it grew into, I think one time I was doing Planet Hollywood and I was doing hard rock and I was doing big things with the movie studios and like Jurassic Park and they'd order 50,000 hats and I was turning into this whole business.
Starting point is 00:31:44 But what I started to realize is I'm not in control of my own destiny because a lot of them started taking things that I was creating and then just getting it made. You're cheaper. Cheaper. Cheaper. And then just cutting the out of the deal. They might not have cared about the quality like you did. They didn't care about the quality.
Starting point is 00:32:04 So they were then starting going into the cheaper app, but they were my ideas, my designs. And so that's when I started to say, I've got to get more in control of this. I got to be in my own destiny here. Like this something's not going right here. And so then I knew how to manufacture the point. You had to create things.
Starting point is 00:32:24 I knew how to, you know. You had to create things. I knew how to, you know, so I had gotten some, got it under my belt a little bit. And so I ended up creating this whole little capsule off to the right of a bunch of different t-shirt ideas. And so I found some local showroom and they started putting it in, you know, Fred Seagull and all these
Starting point is 00:32:49 little boutiques, they just started placing it in all these little boutiques and it just started to take off. But what were you making at that point? So, at that point, it was, ironically, it started with women's. But also the women's t-shirt was the first one that really blew up at the hard rock. Exactly, that's what I was gonna say. So back then, the men's business was a sleepy business.
Starting point is 00:33:15 And the women's business was just on fire. And so that's what seed got planted right away was women's t-shirts and a little more fashionable t-shirts. And next thing I know, a business is born. Like it just happened. But those t-shirts were blank t-shirts. Yeah, they were solid t- Well, there was a lot of different style t-shirts, but they were like, think of them a little
Starting point is 00:33:46 bit more like they were not the basics. I hadn't gotten to the basics yet. They were a little more like a blouse, like when I say a blouse, like meaning all kinds of different necklines, boat necks and scoop necks and deep v-necks. So there was just tons of different necklines, but not the casualty as it is today. It was a little bit more like women's fashion sensibility converting into jerseys.
Starting point is 00:34:17 Understood. So not the basics. It wasn't a brand shirt. No love us. It was a plain shirt. Completely. The gene business was exploding. The contemporary gene business was exploding. And then, remember which were the brands that were hot in genes at that
Starting point is 00:34:33 time? Well, it started with Earl Jean. Yeah. I don't know if you remember. I do. I do. He had a great gene jacket I remember. Yeah, so Earl Jean was one of the really early ones. So Earl Jean was one of the really early ones. And so they were in our showroom also. So our sales team, they basically said, I'm gonna put this t-shirt with these jeans and I'm gonna sell this to everybody. And so we were just literally, that was the formula. Every account was buying an Earl Jean
Starting point is 00:35:01 and it James first, you know, t-shirts. How do you decide to call it your name? You know, that's one of my borderline biggest regrets that I would say to this day. It actually started as JP Classics. That was the very first label. It was called JP Classics. It was almost because it was JP Classics. Did everyone started referring to my name or something like that, like in the show room
Starting point is 00:35:26 or whatever it is, and then I almost feel like someone made a suggestion of like, it'll seem more designer-like. But honestly, if I went back in time, I absolutely would have not associated my name. I mean, well, I shouldn't say that, because your name is on it, you feel a responsibility to be a perfectionist, to care that much. Because I take everything that goes on
Starting point is 00:35:57 at the company, everything that goes on in the store, every single product, it's personal. It's personal. And it sort of points back to me. So in a way, I'd say it kicked my butt to maintain the integrity and to always have a personal connection to it. So I probably shouldn't say because maybe if it was a name
Starting point is 00:36:23 or a brand, maybe I wouldn't have cared as much. It's funny because I was literally joking. I think what I say yesterday is like, you get tired of yourself. It's like people saying your name all day long, it work. And on one note, there's a complete separation between the person and the brain. But somehow it morphed into that. And in general, I'm a really super private person. That's why I asked.
Starting point is 00:36:55 No, it's funny. Yeah, but the funny thing is nobody knows who I am. So in a weird way, I'm completely remain. Like, I get to live my life. I still live private life. And I mean, the realities they probably should have been a little more vocal and a little more, you know, let people understand the essence of where this is coming from. And, but I felt like what I was building and the environments, the spaces, the experience and people were
Starting point is 00:37:25 reinterpreting it back to me exactly the way I'd hoped it to become. So I wanted to do it my way and my way was mixing the world that I grew up in in sunny California with this down to earth sort of doesn't matter who's who, what's what, you know, as I grew up as a kid, there was a lot of, you know, some kids' parents were big, you know, entertainment moguls and some kids' parents, you know, it was every walk of life. And it didn't matter. It just was about friends and a bond and a being happy kids.
Starting point is 00:38:07 And I wanted that, especially like when I went to boarding school, you know, the first thing that everyone's mouth is do you surf, you know, you're from California. And it realized there's such a culture and an identity of what California represented, but I wanted to elevate it. I wanted to put a little more sophistication and taste into the products that were coming out of California that really stemmed from the umbrella of what I was educated under with my father. Mixed perfect. under with my father. It makes perfect sense. And so I started mixing that sort of sensibility
Starting point is 00:38:48 and blending it with the spirit of, you know, who I am and how I grew up. And when you put them together, that's what the brand became. And it didn't exist. It wasn't out there. And there's lots of elements. You're taking lots of pieces from where you grew up, but you're reinterpreting.
Starting point is 00:39:13 And you're reimagining. And you're setting a new standard. And you're setting a new path. And piece by piece, as we were talking about the evolution of merchandising, and then when I did start to do my own brand, and I started to go to these trade shows, I would watch what other brands like Calvin Klein and Massimo and the storytelling that they were putting together, and I was like, I wanna do this. This is what I wanna do. And I also grew up in a umbrella under Chrome Hearts.
Starting point is 00:39:50 It started right under my nose at zero in Maxfield. And I started to make some Chrome Hearts hats at one point. I'd go hang out, Richard had his first office and I'd go deliver the boxes and then I'd go hang out, Richard had his first office, and I'd go deliver the boxes, and then I'd go hang out with him, and when he left that office, that became my first office. So there was this special connection to what was kind of the world that I grew up in, and Richard used to hit all these carpenters. He had this insane, like he just started building this incredible infrastructure. And he had a wood shop and he was building furniture and he was building out all his cabinets.
Starting point is 00:40:37 And he was doing his jewelry and then he was doing his clothing. And so he'd have his guys build me, build out my office and like build out, you know, the deaths and, you know, we still funny enough, the deaths that he'd build for me close to 30 years ago is still sitting in my warehouse now and they still actually work at the desk in the warehouse. It's the same desk. So cool. And, but Richard was a huge inspiration to me,
Starting point is 00:41:12 because when they built their first store, and they started to put all the pieces together in the environment, and my father and Richard did this together, and I got another taste of, this is what I want to do. This is the retail. This is I want an environment. I want to build a thing. I want to tell this story. I want it. So I got a taste. So much of today's life happens on the web. Squarespace is your home base for building your dream presence in an online world. Designing a website is easy using one of Squarespace's best in-class templates.
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Starting point is 00:43:15 and seeing all your stuff like a gallery. Totally. And when we would do the trade show booths because I was the first step, I just became obsessed with that. So I would build these mini stores. And that's where I started to learn a little bit about building and visual merchandising and telling you know how pieces start to come together. How important were those shows? Because they were important to beginning. All your buyers
Starting point is 00:43:38 were going to the shows. It was great exposure and that's how ultimately you would get to department stores, and they'd see you, and they'd discover you, and the shows was an amazing learning experience because I had to learn every piece of the business. And so when you get to go to the shows and you're interfacing with all the buyers and you're learning about buying and you're learning about visual merchandising and how you have to sell the product. Our situation at one point, we got so successful with certain items that that's all anybody kept buying. Our only outlet was wholesale outlet, So I can't control it. And I went through a period many, many years ago
Starting point is 00:44:31 where the sales started going down and I couldn't get them to buy something new to get the volume back up. And I didn't know anything about finance in those days. So I didn't realize I had built an infrastructure, I had a bunch of overhead, and all of a sudden my sales are dipping, and I'm spending money.
Starting point is 00:44:56 And I don't realize at some point it's gonna start affecting my cash flow. And I just don't know anything about it. So, I got myself into trouble trouble and I'll never forget it because people always say a department store can put you out of business and you're always like, why? I don't understand. What is it? In the nutshell, it was a simple game of your guaranteeing margins for department stores. So you're effectively guaranteeing, like they don't want excess inventory and they want to maintain a certain margin. So if they have to discount your merchandise at a certain point and it erodes their margin,
Starting point is 00:45:41 they're going to ask for you that money back. And so you're like writing checks back while they want to send you back excess inventory for the willingness to take new inventory. I never knew any of this. That was the interesting. That was the game. And the game was this rotation. They have no risk essentially. Essentially it minimizes their risk. That's effectively the game was this rotation. So they have no risk, essentially. Essentially it minimizes their risk. That's effectively the game that was played or is played and went on for years and years and years and if you don't manage it well,
Starting point is 00:46:15 you will go out of business. And it's a dangerous game that you have to understand. Because in your mind, the more they take, the more they can sell. Right. But if they take a lot and they don't sell them it's your problem exactly understood it's exactly what it is and when you're kind of up and coming you're like how much can you even afford and then what they do is they put it on a they'd call it a chargeback and they they put it on a system like they would
Starting point is 00:46:44 post it like so all the creditors would have access to the system and they put it on a system, they would post it. So all the creditors would have access to the system and they would say, I'm going to charge you back 100 grand or whatever it is. And if they saw that, because in those days you use, it's called a factor. And what the factor does is they advance you 85% of the invoice that you ship to the department store. They'll give you the front load you money because then you need it for working capital and they will front load that money so you keep buying merchandise, making merchandise and paying your payroll. And I had somebody who read it on the system.
Starting point is 00:47:25 You know, this was from, it's like a bank, is basically what it is. And they read it on the system and they decided to cut off all my credit facility overnight. And I had already pre-planned what it was supposed to be. And they just didn't do what it was supposed to be. And so I'm sitting there trying to figure out, you know, now you
Starting point is 00:47:45 were worried about payroll. And so effectively what I went through was the brink of going out of business because of the way this game is being played. And I got connected with a new accountant. He walked in the door. He taught me all about budgets and projections. Which he'd never done before. I'd never done. And I spent the entire weekend mastering this thing. He gave me these parameters of what I was going to have to cut to get things in line. And so I just started going after all these variable expenses that I could get rid of, basically.
Starting point is 00:48:32 Yeah, it wasn't what made the stuff you were making good. Right. It was like, even I think trade shows might have fallen. There was some things that just, the math wasn't there. And so I was getting rid of it, getting rid of getting rid of getting rid of it. So I basically got all the expenses down, I locked myself in a room and I created what I always wanted to create, which was the essential business, the core basics. Because I had told in my hard rock days days I used to go to these guys that would
Starting point is 00:49:06 make the t-shirts for me and I would go to they were big distributors and I would, you know they have a hains and this and I would sit there and I go do you understand that if you just made your neckline just a little bit thinner and if you just the cotton was a little bit you know lighter and it was and the shape was a little bit lighter, and the shape was a little bit, you could sell zillions of it. They just, just get out of my office, just get out of my office. They were amazing for me with the merchandise
Starting point is 00:49:33 because they wanted the volume of what was going on, but they had no interest in what I was actually doing. They just wanted to pump things through the system. And so I said to myself, there's a Haynes T-shirt and there's a Jill Sondert T-shirt and there's nothing in between. And that's where I created the standard collection at the time we called it, which was the basic T-shirt
Starting point is 00:50:00 that lives with us to this day. And I repositioned everything, product lines, what the mission was going to be. I went back to the marketplace. I got all my expenses in line. You know what I had to do? My accountant helped me do this, but to stay in business, we had a tax refund that had not come yet.
Starting point is 00:50:26 And he was able to sign over the tax refund to the bank, to give me the credit facility that I needed to stay alive. And that move, that maneuver, is what kept me in business. How many years ended this happened? It happened probably after I had started my own brand, three, four years in, but it was at that time when I could, it were going so well that I couldn't get anybody to buy anything else. And you don't ever want to be that one hit wonder or that item.
Starting point is 00:51:05 You don't want to be too hot. You don't want to, you know, so from all those learning lessons, I started to pull back. And essentially, I controlled the distribution. And I was controlling how much I would put out. And I was doing it in steps, like brick by brick. I wouldn't let it explode. I would say to a department store,
Starting point is 00:51:25 I'm not going to give you more than this. That's all you're going to get for me. They blow out of it in five seconds or whatever and then they'd want more and I'd say, sorry. It changed the whole nature of the relationship. Totally. And so, and I was going to build this again my way, contained the way I want, you know, like everything was about now how I wanted to do it. And the amazing thing that I had learned from department stores, this was the greatest education that I got as a merchant, was how to be a merchant at the end of the day, meaning... Seeing what they did right and seeing what they did right now. No, it was a game of inventory management control.
Starting point is 00:52:08 So there's almost an art and science to buying and controlling your inventory. So there's these big spreadsheets and charts that basically you watch your performance. And we call it, well, they're selling reports, but you're managing your cell through, so if I bought 100 units that I sell 50, and I sell 60, and I sell 70, so you're managing all these components between your margin, you know, your cell through, you know,
Starting point is 00:52:37 and we call it like kinda the turn, how fast, how many weeks of supply, so you become a supply chain expert a little bit. And you start to manage how you buy, how you manage the inventory, how you manage a margin. How long does it take to refill? How long do you have to wait to get more? I mean, it depends at which point in time,
Starting point is 00:52:58 but in certain products, we set it up. We're already in an immediate position because we're carrying inventory to replenish. So there's a category that we replenish that's immediate because we're sitting on the stock. There's a category where we call it PFD, it's prepared for dye where the garments are made but they haven't been dyed into a color yet.
Starting point is 00:53:22 Then we have a category where it's sitting in fabric so we just need to cut, so make, you know, and then we have a category where it's sitting in fabric, so we just need to cut, so make, you know, and then we have a category that's a longer early time where you have to start at zero in order. So you have all these sections based upon. And when you introduce something new, how do you deal with it? Well, it depends what you think it's going to be, right?
Starting point is 00:53:42 So if we make a product that we believe is going to be foundational in a long-term product, we will take the risk of already pre-positioning ourselves, whether it's in fabric. Before you sell one. Before you sell one. That's the art and science. The art and science is sort of your gut and your instinct has got to play a role. Yeah, and experience. And experience. Yeah, for sure. All of them.
Starting point is 00:54:09 And then the math and how you manage it is like the foundation and the tools. And so what has happened is over many, many years is my experiences of almost going out of business, you know, three or four years into this taught me everything about finance. I didn't just walk away from that. Like I became obsessed with learning about finance, budgeting, you know, I call it the keys to the kingdom because with that visibility, you're not going to have the fear anymore because you understand how to keep the, you know, the levers, you know, where they need to be. And so that gives you confidence. So understanding finance, gaming confidence, understanding, merchandising, made me
Starting point is 00:55:01 a strategic weapon. It made me a strategic weapon because if I could take the creative of understanding products and designs but understanding it from a controlled environment of how to build programs and how to manage inventory and how to, you know, position, you know, your supply chain and connect it with your gut in your instinct. And merchandising goes to even, like, I can go on and on and on, but there are high-level strategies that can move the entire financial needle of the company as well. So I'll just give you an example. What we call AURs is like an average unit retail.
Starting point is 00:55:43 So if you took everything you're selling, and then you looked at it and you said, the price was $200 average across all these categories, all these products. That's your reoccurring number that you're always watching and monitoring. But if you decided to, I'm gonna start selling more cashmere, more higher price cashmere,
Starting point is 00:56:10 more sweater jacket cashmere, and I'm going to in-shop the price point. That's going to start rebalancing the averages so that if your lower price point thing is pulling down the AOR, these pushes are going to start bringing up the averages. So you can grow your business just by changing your mix and your assortments and your average price points. You don't even have to add another store. You don't have to do anything. You can just rethink the strategies of your price point strategies and so on and so forth. So effectively I ended up learning all these different components and then that just becomes the circle of how the whole system works.
Starting point is 00:56:59 But when I went to open a store, now... When was the first store? The first store now was probably pushing, if I wanna say, 18, 19 years ago. A long, probably close to that, maybe 18 years ago. First store was on Melrose, across the street from my father's store. Oh, cool. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:57:19 And it's still there. Cool. And when I built the first store, it was when I had to say, okay, okay, like you made products. But now you got to piece this whole thing together. What does this brand look like? What are your hang tags? What is your logo? What is your labels? What is your merchandising? What are your mannequins? Your forms, your hangers, your picture. And my whole attitude was, I don't want to look like a retail store. I want it to be like a home. I want every store we do to be a special environment.
Starting point is 00:57:53 I want it to be experiential. And in those days, most retail was very retail. It was, here's a cookie cutter formula, and how do we build a hundred of these as fast as you can? And I just started, I was more interested in the idea of probably because I was obsessed with architecture, I just wanted to do different things every time I was doing and just enjoy it. So you want to make it a place that you'd want to hang out in?
Starting point is 00:58:20 Was that part of it? That was the idea. I wanted it to feel like home to you. I wanted you to be inspired. I wanted you to feel like I want my house to feel like this. I want, and I'm just so comfortable that I'm here for an extra two hours I don't really want to leave.
Starting point is 00:58:39 When we opened the second Malibu, meaning not the original one, but the bigger one now. And we created that whole outdoor deck. You know, it's funny because I'm paying rent for that outdoor deck because it was supposed to be inside space. But I designed the building and took the square footage and made the deck. You know, so I have to pay rent like as if it was enclosed.
Starting point is 00:59:01 But aesthetically, I wanted it to be this experience. And it was amazing the way people overnight, they'd come and they just sit there and lay out on the deck. They'd bring their dogs, their dog would be on one chase and they'd be on the other chase. We would serve them a drink and they'd hang out and enjoy themselves and just, that's what I wanted. And so opening store, after store, you store, it allowed me to just keep exploring new ideas, new
Starting point is 00:59:30 thoughts, new experiences. But then I had sort of graduated to saying, okay, it's such about the home. I wanted to take my customer through a journey into now, let's get serious, because we had so many people that just were like, can you do my home or can you, I want my home to look like, you know, our store and they'd come in with their contractors and, you know, look at, you know, I've done it myself. And so, you know, then we started to go into all the home furnishings and we started going into blankets and furniture.
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Starting point is 01:01:59 The international stores are just in Japan, Canada, and London, and Mexico. And what's been amazing too is that even though we've built it heavily in the US, there's been such an international sort of draw as they're coming through the US and education to the brand that we're not starting at zero when we show up in different spots around the world. How much is the online part of the business? The online piece of the business, I want to say it's 15 to 20% of the business, which
Starting point is 01:02:33 is still a very small percentage of most people's business, and it's exploded for us. So we had a lot of catching up to do because we had built brick and mortar, you know, in a big way. And then e-commerce, you know, so COVID really expedited it for us. And now it's a major. Now the whole game has changed. The game is now all consumer centric, all digital centric, all marketing centric. My only marketing to date was building stores, my environments. There was no messaging, there was no big advertising. No advertising. There was none of that.
Starting point is 01:03:16 It was just this grassroots business that organically, you know, but now that you're in a digital space and with the world of social and the world of building this e-commerce business, the game has completely changed. So, I'm actually flip-flopping our entire process so that I'm now about telling stories. It's almost like when you have stores and environments, you can get away with a lot because you're making products and you're putting in your environments, you have a team there that can communicate things.
Starting point is 01:03:52 The physical experience provides a lot of the story. Exactly. And now online, you don't get that. Exactly. And we were not very good at it. And now it's time and we've taken the strength of our team that have been with us for years and we're all moving over to a digital position and marketing position. And we flip-flop the process so that we, instead of looking at everything from a selling and a reactionary perspective to dictate what we were going to develop on the next cycle, we now start the story and the marketing first, meaning the analytics are already there. We know when we sell shorts, we know when we sell sweaters, we know when we sell jackets, we know what we need to talk about, when we need to talk about it.
Starting point is 01:04:46 So it's now more focused on how do you tell your story? Is the story what differentiates your sweater from someone else's? I think, no, I think that the story is about the brand. So what we're doing is, it's all a sense of place, an environment. It starts as this the brand. So what we're doing is it's all a sense of place, an environment. You know, it starts as this California brand. And in this California brand, you have all kinds of different experiences, whether you're, you know, in Malibu or you're in LA or you're in Monocito or you're in Mammoth or you're in the desert and Joshua Tree or you're in
Starting point is 01:05:24 Palm Springs. You had a t-shirt with all the and Joshua tree, or you're in Palm Springs. You had a t-shirt with all the neighbors on it. I loved that t-shirt. Yeah, yeah, it was such a cool t-shirt. The, that actually became our like almost like a branded t-shirt to us. Wow. It was the essence of, you know, telling the California story.
Starting point is 01:05:40 Yeah. And we're starting to shape products around a sense of place in a sense of environment, so that our stories can get clearer. You know, because you have to take a whole internal operation and get everybody on a page, because the same people who are making clothing are not making bags and shoes, and the same people doing that are not making surfboards. And the same people, you've got to pull a lot of pieces together to tell
Starting point is 01:06:05 one simplistic story. So if the story is the foundation, then they all can work towards the story instead of everybody on their own page and nothing comes together, right? So I've been playing the glue, the vision of the story and this foundation that we're sort of putting into play. But this whole thing is an ecosystem. It's an ecosystem that these experiential destinations and locations also are surrounded with products, not in a commercial way in a very solid way. No, you get to live in the place and in the same way that if you went to a friend's house and he has a really comfy sofa.
Starting point is 01:06:47 Exactly. And you say, I'd like this in my house. Where do you get it? It's the same idea. Exactly. And so, you have your product piece of the business, which it was apparel and fashion, you know, shoes and accessories and all that.
Starting point is 01:07:02 And then you have home furnishings and the interiors. And then you get these experiential destinations and locations that are filled with all the products. And so effectively, it's a new form of retail for us because it's a showroom. It's a way to experience and live in that environment. And the intention is it just keeps sort of, you know, feeding the ecosystem.
Starting point is 01:07:25 And- Plan on doing more of those. We do plan on doing more of those. And right now, it's actually kind of graduating to a much larger community hotel-like experience. Meaning, all of them operate like a hotel right now anyways. It's full kind of service and experience and end to end, but now when you grow into a community it's at the scale of a hotel. So, you know, and then we're sort of venturing
Starting point is 01:07:52 into that, you know, channel. And you plan on doing them all over the world? Or would you like to? In fact, now it's reversing itself. Now we have the possibilities of when we enter into a market, we're going to enter with everything at one shot. Instead of like the bit by bit by bit, you get the full immersive experience. So we're going to build the hotel with the retail component, both home furnishings and apparel and all the experiential. So for us the game has changed because we're basically getting to do everything at once at the same time. Yeah, which is great. Yeah, exactly.
Starting point is 01:08:40 Brand wise. Who else is in the space? It's so specific what you do. It's funny because that's kind of the nice thing. I think you know there are people competing in certain product categories but when you pull the brand together it sort of sits a little bit on its own island a little bit. I think that was always the plan, that was always the hope. So it's funny because I was just with somebody of the day and they just started saying, you know, they're saying something similar to what you just said. Like I can't think of what else there is. Yeah, you have to chop it up to compare it.
Starting point is 01:09:22 You have to say, oh, this person makes t-shirts or this person. You know, like, if you take a brand like a Brinello Cuccinelli as an example, which, you know, is built an amazing business, and there was always people who would talk about some interesting similarities, but we come from different worlds. And the experience couldn't be more different. Right. Exactly. And they from different worlds. And the experience couldn't be more different. Right, exactly. So... And they say different things.
Starting point is 01:09:48 But that's what I'd always hope. I wanted them to feel like it was their brand. It was part of their life. It's part of their memories. Because, you know, 25 years ago, the world was a very different place. And so, the world has become incredibly casual compared to where it was.
Starting point is 01:10:10 I mean, obviously, COVID knocked that off the charts. Even before that. But even before that. Like when I would go to Tokyo, it used to be very conservative. You know, and you'd always see everyone in suits and so now you can kind of walk around and like, or even years ago, like you could suits and so now you can kind of walk around and like or even years ago Like you could identify neighborhoods and like you can pick up on personalities and you could look at it By the way that they're dressed and or do they have a stroller and do they have kids and then you're like oh
Starting point is 01:10:37 This is like Brentwood like I like I can see you know families versus young Kids versus young professionals versus you know, so versus young kids, versus young professionals, versus, you know, so I'm very fortunate and grateful to have been there at the right time, you know, where it kind of wasn't on the map. And so we were able to build like sort of a brand that people now can rely on the brand and the quality and the consistency versus just think of it as the category or the item.
Starting point is 01:11:14 But I don't think of anything else in the category. They're street wear, which it's not. Right. And then there's Gucci, which it's not. Right, exactly. It's a different thing. Well, you know what's funny is after COVID, you've got all the, I don't know if you say
Starting point is 01:11:28 after COVID, that's not even the right thing. Let's just say two years ago, a year ago, everyone's just pounding, collaborations, pounding, street wear, novelty, loud, loud, and then that kind of, you know, the tides change. And then all of a sudden they say, quiet luxury. They start using these buzzwords. Everyone says it's about quiet luxury.
Starting point is 01:11:57 And then brands start coming in. It's about quiet luxury. And I'm just sitting there laughing and going, hello. I'm doing quiet luxury for 30 years. That is what we are. Now, what I have witnessed over years is you're watching a lot of the luxury brands casualize. So they themselves have trying to become more and more and more casual. But we still sit in this world that is approachable, obtainable, makes you feel good and you know it's funny because while I've been building this
Starting point is 01:12:43 brand for all this years I go to work every every day. I live in a uniform. I basically don't change very much. I'm kind of probably the most boring of the whole equation. And you just go into, you know, you're just going into comfort and you're just going there. Do your work, do your work, do your work. And yesterday, I think it was yesterday, I wore a new t-shirt, I wore a colored t-shirt. And a pair of white pants. And everybody in the house got and goes, whoa! Like, everybody commented, whoa, you look nice today.
Starting point is 01:13:21 And then everybody worked, wow, where are you coming? And I just laughing because I was just saying, at the end of the day, all I did was change the color. It was the same uniform I wear every single day. It just, I literally put on a pair of white pair of fans instead of my usual earthy, whatever. And then instead of a white t-shirt, I put in an actual color and then I transformed.
Starting point is 01:13:45 And so I even myself was like, I'm pretty pathetic. You talk about comfort, and I think that's a big key. Streetwear isn't designed necessarily to be comfortable. It has a different purpose. Gucci isn't designed to be comfortable. It's got a different purpose. I isn't designed to be comfortable. It's got a different purpose. Right. I feel like your clothing is much more for the benefit of the wearer, not the perception from me outside. Yeah. I would say for sure. I think it's trying to build things that last. And I think that you have to try to, you know, my biggest thing is trying to get all the kinks out
Starting point is 01:14:29 that are the difference between, do I want this or do I not want this? Does it annoy me or does it not annoy me? Is it comfortable? Is it uncomfortable? But it's, sometimes it's the subtlest things. It's your pocket bag, you know, like I sit there and I hammer when they do pocket bags
Starting point is 01:14:46 that are too short and your keys fall out of your pocket is driving me bananas. And it's like, you've got to get the functionality just right, because if you get annoyed by that, like my whole thing is, you can't agitate anybody, you can't annoy them, you can't have, you can't think about it. You can't have them thinking about that. They can't agitate anybody, you can't annoy them, you can't have, you can't think about it. You can't have them thinking about that, they can't be repeating that.
Starting point is 01:15:09 It has to be the opposite, they have to just sit there and love it and keep wanting more. So those little things are the things you have to keep sort of ironing out. And when you do become bigger and you're creating more, it gets a little more difficult to be so attention to detail on everything you're doing. However, I still always reel it back in and say, less is more, engineer it to last, and let's spend the time and energy on making this great, not processing, not just getting it out the door, not just another season. Look at what performs, look at Liz with us forever.
Starting point is 01:15:52 We have shirts that have been with us for 20 years. That's where the energy goes. And so, you know, you have to remind people, remind people, it's because you're running a business and you're running a, because you're running a business, and you're running a process, and you're running a machine. Tell me from the beginning of an idea, do you have the idea, or does someone else have the idea?
Starting point is 01:16:12 It's a combination of both. Do you have people pitch you ideas? Well, when it comes to making garments, I spend a lot of time on making sure the boat is heading in the direction that I wanted to head. So I spend my time thinking about everything. Always everything. My brain goes to literally everything at once.
Starting point is 01:16:37 It does not think about just the one specific thing. It thinks about the story, the environment, the space, the visual. It thinks about the business. It thinks about how story, the environment, the space, the visual. It thinks about the business. It thinks about how we're going to approach this. Then I start honing in on the edit and the curation of it, which also involves adjustments and changes and also, let's just say, holes that don't exist, where you're leading the process as a merchant saying, we need to be doing this and we need to be working on this and we need to be doing more of this and then I just go into idea mode and then I go into idea mode of how do you take something you love and how do you play with different
Starting point is 01:17:23 fabrics and what are the different possibilities of the different fabrics? Or if I am with a garment, I'm sitting there saying, you know, then you start going into what you like and you don't like. But then there's, you know, and then the most important thing is to surround yourself with a phenomenal team. How do you find the team? You know, some of my team has been with me for years and years and years and we know each other like back of our hand. Some of the team as you explore, it's difficult. What I would tell you is coming from Los Angeles, there's always, there's pros and cons. The pro is I always wanted to be on my own island and I'm officially on my own island. And I had this canvas to work from. The con is I'm not in the network of where
Starting point is 01:18:09 a lot of the best talent pools and resources are. So. This is not the center of the fashion world. No, it's not the center of the fashion world. There's needles in haystack around here, but it's definitely not the center of the fashion world, which was funny because every time I've seen years ago, they would keep trying, they would try to bring a fashion week in LA, and I would just be like, you gotta be kidding
Starting point is 01:18:36 me. Like, why would you ever try to compete with what's going on in Europe, let alone New York, but like, you're just like, this is ridiculous. This is just gonna make us look silly. Which I think they have discovered over time is like, you're like, we're the source of inspiration. We're the source of experience.
Starting point is 01:18:57 You miss the lifestyle aspect of what's going on here. And we need a formula that is feeding like a diluted version of what the most cutting edge creators in the world are doing. Like are you kidding me? Like who, like what do we want to look at that for? But they're inspired by us. So embrace that.
Starting point is 01:19:20 Be who you are. Do you ever look at trends of what else is going on in the world or does that not apply? In the big picture, not really, we were never following a trend, like ever. Like if, you know, certain tops were in or whatever, you know, like kind of in the heyday, my attitude was like, I'm just gonna become that
Starting point is 01:19:44 because everyone's wearing it. There are moments where you can create your own interpretation of something that's in at the moment. So take, for example, a Birkenstock, the interesting funny thing is that obviously Birkenstock has been around for a long, long, long time. Well, obviously going to the grave for the head, you know. That's all barbed wire.
Starting point is 01:20:07 I've seen my share of Birkenstock. The, the, but I don't know how many years ago it was, I was in the mood to, this is way before the craze of the reinvention of the Birkenstock, but I was in the mood. I thought with our California sensibility and our attitude, it was time to curate and put that together with our products. So we actually started buying just straight up Berkens stocks.
Starting point is 01:20:37 And it looked amazing. It looked amazing because we were sort of modernizing the look. It was sort of the way we can mix it with our products to sort of look like it was. You were not in the parking lot at the grapefruit day. And then we did a little collaboration. It wasn't that so easy, but just a little minor collaboration. And then it became a craze. When I say craze, I mean, the Birkenstock is no longer the Birkenstock, it's the Krunek, meaning it's a staple silhouette. Everybody has an interpretation of the silhouette. And Birkenstock themselves just exploded, but every designer was doing an interpretation of a
Starting point is 01:21:26 Birkenstock, and it was just madness in the craze. And so that was one of those where we caught the wave before the wave, and we were actually just interacting with Birkenstock. But that's an interesting one because that one actually then became actually a shape and a pattern and now it's become a staple and now it's become everybody has that staple reinterpreted in some shape or form and effectively everybody kind of wins because Berkens stock just exploded as well. But it happened at one time with Uggboots, too.
Starting point is 01:22:07 Do you remember when Uggboots sort of became the thing? Exactly. Exactly. It's kind of like some of those guys are so powerful with what, you know, their creation that it became effectively a staple. But you know, I look at the wave to figure out what wave I want to catch that's not the wave. Understood.
Starting point is 01:22:31 So it tells me where the direction is going to go and where I have to place myself. You're doing alternative programming. Yeah, exactly. Instinctually that's more intriguing to me and it's always about repositioning and saying, well, if it's going there, it's definitely going to come back here. So, I'm going to place myself over here. But at the end of the day, the majority of what we are is about foundational engineering to last. And we want to run a business that's more on a consistent basis.
Starting point is 01:23:04 We don't want peaks and valleys and we're not we're not really interested in it. You don't want to be the hot thing. I never want to be too hot. Never. I want to be loved. Yes. But never too hot. Yeah. And so and there's always a time to wake up and reinvent yourself and reposition yourself and evolve. And by the way, I learned these things very early on. And maybe those are the things that I became allergic to because they scared the crap out of me.
Starting point is 01:23:37 And I got that taste of like how quickly something can go south. And so I was always more about controlled and steady. And the benefit is it's resulted in a brick-by-brick methodically built company. Probably could be two or three times as big as it is now, but I'm okay going at a controlled pace. There's a faster pace, but... You give up something to get the faster pace. Yeah, well, yeah, well, too fast, too fast. I can't say I'm, I haven't been slow. Yeah. But I've also spent a lot of time and energy into
Starting point is 01:24:21 these other areas to set the tone of what the next 20 years can be. So that took a lot of time and energy into these other areas to set the tone of what the next 20 years can be. So that took a lot of time, but now we're bringing it back and saying, you know, we want a storm in Paris. We're opening a store in Dubai. We're opening a store in Abu Dhabi. You know, we want to venture, you know, around the world. And it's been really fun again to travel and to get out there and say, wow, I can't believe we're not even here, but my version of being there is how do I localize? How do I understand where we're going? How do I understand how we can collaborate with where we're going versus just sort of show up the same thing, the same thing, the same thing.
Starting point is 01:25:07 It's just for me becomes a new canvas to play with. How difficult is it to get the manufacturing part right? The manufacturing part, that's all about experience and that's all about resources and that's all about you know, so at the beginning You're looking at the manufacturer. I would sit there in my Jeep and I'd be moving boxes from downtown L.A. This but I'd stay up all night in the dye facilities Making sure the colors are exactly they were supposed to be I mean I was are exactly they were supposed to be. I mean, I was neurotic. Like, when the inside of the garment died a different color than the outside, I'd sit there with a blow dryer. I was out of my mind, like, because I was a perfectionist, because I felt like you get one shot at this.
Starting point is 01:25:58 And I have this thing where if I said I was going to do something, I better do it exactly the way I said I was gonna do it. I just I care too much. It's good and bad. That's what consumes me. So over the years, we definitely had moments where you're like, okay, we have little issues over here or whatever, but that really comes down to resources and who you're working with.
Starting point is 01:26:27 Because if you start finding the right resources and the right manufacturer, because we learned how to manufacture, there's effectively like two versions for the types of stuff that we do. You can actually cut so and make the garment where you're buying the fabrics, you're sending it to a one person to cut it, another person selling it, another person's dying, another person's finishing it. You know, it's a lot of steps. And then the other version is you're working with a manufacturer who's kind of just taking
Starting point is 01:26:58 control and handing you a finished product. And you know, those tend to be a lot easier. However, there's something about the speed of what you can do and the flexibility, because those things have minimums and they have this and they have that. And when you can just cut, so make your garments, you can be, you can work around some of those restrictions very easily. And so that's a nice thing, is like, I guess, by doing everything yourself. Is that how you do it? We do both.
Starting point is 01:27:37 We do both. We do both. But I mean by my education, by learning and doing everything myself. The beauty of that is now when I'm interacting with any single department, I can speak to it. I understand what it is. Yeah, you know what you're talking about? You've done all the steps. Yes, the only step I would say is when it comes to IT
Starting point is 01:27:57 and technology, forget it. Like, that's not my cup of tea. So I have an awesome group of guys that deal with that. But when it comes to software, that's related to process in operating. I know I understand that up and down and left and right. That's a huge piece of how you can operate. Who were the designers that were inspirational to you at any point? For me, the heyday, the greatest moment in time was I was obsessed with helmet
Starting point is 01:28:28 laying, obviously the original helmet laying when he was doing his own brand, Jill Sonder, when Jill Sonder was running her own brand. You know, Margella, when Margella was running his brand. Those were probably my three all times, but always inspired by Yoji, Y3, but really Yoji. And over the years, Phoebe Filo is brilliant. And I remember that one of the first suits, my dad had custom made for me with the Taylor upstairs from the shop, was like mirroring in our money suit
Starting point is 01:29:11 for a four-year-old. There's photos of me in the suit. But I would say those are probably, we're my followers. Oh, well, no, but Ralph, he's God to me in the sense of storytelling and the environment and the lifestyle. When you talk about the term lifestyle
Starting point is 01:29:35 and you pull the pieces together, there is no one better than Ralph, no one better than Ralph. I'm so enamored by the stories that he's doing and the environments and the merchandising and the visual merchandising and the different types of products and the range that he's doing that I almost don't even focus on the products because I'm so into how could anybody dream this up. And there's also so many other products that's hard to even know where to start. That's right. It's endless.
Starting point is 01:30:14 It's endless. It's funny because I would say the different references and sources of inspiration for different reasons. Different stuff. Ralph is, you know, almost allows me to be me in the sense that he's very East Coast and he has a very strong sensibility coming from sort of an East Coast lifestyle that allows me to understand I'm so West Coast and I need to focus on what I know so well and what that sensibility is in those stories that I can tell and those life experiences that I can sell. So it's an incredible reference of teaching me how to build something that represents versus you watch people sit there and tell stories and you're just like there's no authenticity you know. So that's when I'm so blessed by is that everything that I'm doing is it just feels like it's me. It's like it's real. All real in your real life story and life style. It makes it easier. It makes it easier because I lived it and experienced it. I'm not just like pretending and making up this brand new story
Starting point is 01:31:35 over here. I've been doing it for years and years and years and that makes it fun to me because you can really be yourself. How important is distribution? The distribution is always important for us today. We're primarily a vertical. So it's all our own stores. Your own stores online and that's it. Right. So we have... Can't buy it anywhere else. Well no no you can on a very small scale we sell to some smaller boutiques still what I preserved is some of the smaller boutiques
Starting point is 01:32:07 As in that's where we came from and that's where we started and I've sort of always continued to do business with smaller boutiques when it comes to department stores we only interact with blooming dales because we control our own concession. So they're giving us the freedom to be us. And does it just get you into more places? Because I'm thinking what you're making is so beautiful and the stores are so great. And if I lived in a place where there wasn't one, I'd feel bad.
Starting point is 01:32:44 Right, right, right. I haven't experienced the online enough to know that would motivate you to buy. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true.
Starting point is 01:32:56 That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's true. That's So we've been working on this whole major 3.0 site that hopefully is going to tell a much stronger story through a digital world the way we have in our brick and mortar, but you're exactly right and that's where boutiques and sort of being in areas and locations that are not accessible. We don't have stores because there's a lot of them. that are not accessible, we don't have stores, because there's a lot of them. Still is very valid, and the introduction to those customers and all that. And that's why we've kind of maintained
Starting point is 01:33:33 the boutique attitude. It's really about the whole business in itself is intended to feel boutique. So even if we scale it. If you could have your stuff in whatever today's max field is in a place where there's no James Perstor, it seems like a good thing. Yo, you're right, right, like a boutique store. Yeah, it is.
Starting point is 01:33:57 It is a very good thing. At the end of the day, just the seeds that are being planted and those people's experiences for the first time and engaging with the company and the brand is huge. So it is. It's hard internally to run different types of businesses at the same time because they're very different. The whole process is different. When we develop and produce for our stores, we just can stick to a calendar because you can just say, I'll make X amount go, right? When it's wholesale, you go through this selling period and it messes up the calendar. And so then you can only fix the calendar.
Starting point is 01:34:38 Everything gets longer. You can project it, it can create exposure or you have to minimize it so you can't offer all of the same amounts of product. So it's complicated. So that's a little bit of the challenge. But, well, it just tells me that there's so much potential for the brand to grow. It's the type of timeless clothing
Starting point is 01:34:59 that could work everywhere all over the world. Yeah, exactly, it's true. And honestly, as I've been traveling, my eyes just keep opening up, because I'm like, I can't believe we're not here. I can't believe we're not here. I can't believe. It's a big world.
Starting point is 01:35:14 It's a big world. And that's our next step is now focusing on the international aspect of the business. There's not a lot to figure out. It's just like it's like time. It just needs to happen. We got to execute. And so we're refocusing on that game plan.
Starting point is 01:35:32 But in the same breath, it's also, it's like you're going to, you know, different places around the world. And the world is so different today that there are opportunities to embrace all these different places that you're going to and find new methods of creating, manufacturing, or localizing,
Starting point is 01:35:58 and being open to new ideas that even make sense, not just a style perspective, but you know, I'm sort of at this age now where I want to listen and hear what a young generation is thinking. And you know, yeah, I can sit here and say, like, I don't know what they're thinking about. Or I can listen and learn from where their heart is and where their thoughts are. And raising two boys, it's been fascinating because I'll tell you this. I wasn't as in the fashion as my kids are. I mean, it's just a different world because they're being exposed to this content and being influenced of where this and where that and that and that and it's funny because they're
Starting point is 01:36:54 both on the same campus. So, the older one just started at Malibu High because he had left for Ben and he's come back, meaning he was going to school over the hill and then he came back and day one of dropping him off at school when I pulled in and I looked at this scene, I mean it was fast times a ridgeman, huh? I mean it was the coolest, it was fantastic. These kids, the attitude, the styling, they're all friends from nothing, they've all grown up together which to me is the most important thing in the world, it's all friends from nothing. They've all grown up together, which to me is the most important thing in the world.
Starting point is 01:37:28 It's that bond for life. But they're interest. They were all hanging out in one area, one zone, and you're just immediately looking at the styling that's going on. And when I was in high school, it was absolutely not like this. And of course, as you know, in Malibu, it's got a very retro sort of sensibility. These kids are pulling their stripes socks all the way up.
Starting point is 01:37:53 And it's got this sort of skater. It's like a hybrid of skate, surf, streetwear, all combined. But they're all on it, all of them. In a very, I still want to say in a down to earth way, not in the, you have this and I have that, you know, these kids are trading stuff that, which I actually love because they have no sense, they have no concept of what anything costs. They, you know, say the one kid's got this and the cost of this, the other kid doesn't matter.
Starting point is 01:38:24 They start trading sweatshirts. I like it. Yeah, it was cool. So they start trading things with each other. And I think that's fantastic. You get sick of something and then they start trading. But I'm blown away by the young generation and their interest in style. It is nothing like the way I grew up. I mean, yes, I had a father who
Starting point is 01:38:46 had my friends in us, I was like, forget it, go back and look at the photos. There was no, but you're gonna go back and look at these kids photos and you're gonna see like, wow, they represented a time period. And I say fast times originally high because, I mean, really, it's that on point. But it's got a new, it's got a new, a little bit of, you know, obviously, update and a twist. So I'm very open, you know, I love to learn. I love to be educated. I love to be shown something new.
Starting point is 01:39:19 What you know, great. You've experienced it, you've learned it. But it's not about sitting there and just honing in on what you know. I don't feel live unless somebody's teaching me something. Yeah, it's so much fun to learn new stuff. It's so much fun. The best.
Starting point is 01:39:35 You know, it's been interesting since COVID, where it's hard to get people back to the office, but I'll tell you, when you're in an empty space, or you're just kind of on your own or whatever, I just don't do well with that. When I have energy surrounding me and I have groups of people surrounding me and we're bouncing ideas off of each other, I'm born again. Like it's just like you come, you're alive. And I literally, I notice it to the day because I know which days everybody's in the office
Starting point is 01:40:07 and I know which days get very light days. And without your team and without your, you know, it's everything. It's the passion, it's the ideas, it's the fun of creating things, it's the sheer energy, personalities, humor. Describe the environment where you meet with your team. Well, we have two different environments. So we have one facility in the Marina, kind of near Venice area, and then we have an environment down in Downey, past downtown, which is sort of
Starting point is 01:40:42 the operations facility where a lot of tech in the product development takes place. When we're in the Marina office, you know, it's a very kind of minimalist loft environment. Very warm wood, bow trust ceilings with sort of white cube objects kind of creating a dramatic corridor down the center. When we kind of walk into the what I've been doing is sort of converting it to trying to you know that this whole marketing piece that never existed in the business is a new piece that I'm building, which is now all about renderings and digital communication and campaigns
Starting point is 01:41:36 and even designing products digitally so that you can start to envision what these things look like and what the stories are going to look like. So it's transformed there to being much more of an environment of beautiful renderings and storytelling. So I like when I'm surrounded by my visual teams and the merchant teams and the marketing teams and you know graphic design teams and like when we're all in there and we're dreaming it up and we're talking it out I feel like we're making progress I feel like we're creating structure we're seeing you know a light at the end of the tunnel and we're bouncing ideas off and I feel alive. I grew up being in these factories, like if I walk into the warehouse or if I walk into
Starting point is 01:42:34 a sample room, I come alive. Because it just reminds me, it's just like that's where stuff happens, that's where it's made, that's where it's created, that's where you get my brain starts thinking about, you know, and every time I go into any place, how can I do it better, how can I do it better, how can I do it better. And the one thing I love about having, you know, my own business is that, you know, you can spend a lot of time in a creative situation, but everything gets exhausting. I refresh by then going into a business.
Starting point is 01:43:08 It's like a whole new life, complete palette cleanser. It's a palette. And then when you come back to the creative side, it's like, oh, this is fun. Totally. There are moments too, you know, when people create a bit, I'm sure you, I'd be curious how you deal with this because, you know, it doesn't always hit you over the head. Like, somebody comes in, you like this, this, or this,
Starting point is 01:43:31 and I sit there and go, I'm kind of in my brain going, I don't really like any of them, but I have to think about this. I can't answer why right now. And then I have to walk away. And I have to think about it. And then I have to walk away. And I have to think about it. And then I have to sort of figure out, is there anything from it? Do I have to start from scratch, or are there
Starting point is 01:43:52 some I'm going to pull from it? Or like, it's amazing to me how the littlest thing can give you the biggest idea. Absolutely. It's crazy. It's miraculous. Yeah. It's true. And it can be a comment someone makes. Well, probably. It could be noticing a sign somewhere and you change everything in your life. It totally. But you know, the thing is I wish I actually, I mean maybe I do, maybe I don't, but like, I'm such an idea person that you forget your ideas. Yeah. You're rambling so many ideas. And then sometimes they come back, full circle.
Starting point is 01:44:32 And then sometimes they vanish. I try to make notes. And sometimes I'll make a note and it'll be too vague. And then I come back to it later and I read the note and I have no idea what it is. I do the exact same thing. No idea what it means. No idea what it means. It's so funny because I just like a few days ago got this, there's this digital pad.
Starting point is 01:44:53 I gotta send this to you. There's this digital pad that's like this note taking pad. It's all digital, but it's simple enough. Because I have 5,000 pieces of paper. And I end up with all these pieces of paper. And I re-note the same thing. And I end up with duplicate notes. And duplicate and I end up with it all over the place.
Starting point is 01:45:12 I'm gonna sit there and type everything. So I wanna make my notes. Essentially it's kind of infinite at the end of the day. And yeah, and you just can sort of keep going. But I joke all the times that I have the exact same thing. I have no way, read my note again. First of all, half the time because I have the exact same thing. I have no idea. Read my note again. First of all, half the time I can't even read my own writing.
Starting point is 01:45:29 The other half the time, I can't remember what planet I was even thinking or what I was trying to say. And then there's the occasional, like, I got it. I remember. Well, when I listened to you, you know, when you talk about the creative process and you have such an incredible way of articulating a very complicated process, you know,
Starting point is 01:45:54 and to me, it's just, it's just I'm bouncing around, you know, I'm just, it's thoughts and ideas and it's interesting how I'm becoming more aware. If you took before COVID, you know, I worked around the clock for so many years and just grinded and grinded and grinded. But I always felt like I just loved what I was doing and I just love that energy around me. I loved being creative. I love being passionate about me. I loved being creative. I loved being passionate about everything that I was working on.
Starting point is 01:46:30 So it didn't really feel like work. Of course, there's lots of headaches and that's probably my least favorite part of the equation. Then COVID and I learned to sort of slow down. And then that became kind of special a little bit. You know, you open your eyes, you slow down. But then I realize if there's a lack of energy surrounding me, and there's a lack of similar desires to create a result.
Starting point is 01:47:08 It's almost depressing. It's because you've thrived on passion for so many years that nothing should feel like it's work or nothing should feel like, you know, you don't like what you're doing. But what's crazy is how fast that switch goes on, that you put something exciting in front of me or just the beginnings of something. It's on, that's on.
Starting point is 01:47:41 It's so weird. It's like it's just, it's on. It's like I can be so frustrated and pissed off and agitated and this and that. And all of a sudden there's a shoe right in front of me and I can taste like the progress of what I wanted to have happen. And then all of a sudden you're like thinking of 50 versions of something and it's on and it's really hard When you thrive on passion and you go and you go and go to get yourself to slow down is Confusing Because you don't like you just don't even know what that means like you don't what am I here for what am I here for
Starting point is 01:48:24 Or and then when you're too slow it can be depressing you just don't even know what that means. Like, you don't. What am I here for? What am I here for? And then when you're too slow, it can be depressing because you're sort of, where's the energy? Now, I don't even mean minor, just the energy. The thing that fulfills me, the thing that, it sounds like when you go to Mexico, you can turn it off a little bit.
Starting point is 01:48:43 Exactly. It's exactly right. It's the one place where I can go because there's something about that, even though I'm turning it off, there's a force of energy that is with me, that is sort of soothing me and feels like I'm doing something when I'm not doing something.
Starting point is 01:49:09 And that's what, you know, where I was talking about when we were talking about the waves and we were talking about Mexico, which is in place, you can go to a place that's dead still, and there's an extraordinary relaxing energy. Or you go somewhere that's dead dead still and there's no one. you

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