Friday, November 23, 2007


First, we'd just like to say what a pleasure it is to conduct this interview, mad kudos to Karmaloop and all the amazing success over these past few years . . .
Thank You!

So let's get this interview kicked off . . .

Besides the endless need to dress fresh and the chance to receive FREE clothing from multiple labels, what really made you say, "I think I'm going to start selling online"? Not only selling, but selling strictly underground brands?
I just saw a need for Streetwear, which indecently will always be a genre type, even if it isn’t called streetwear in the future. Streetwear had a huge amount of visibility culturally with a certain group and a following that was not all concentrated in areas that had boutiques. It was a simple case of supply and demand, the demand was there but the supply was hard to get. I knew the Internet would change all that even if it didn’t happen right away. It did take a little longer than we thought it would but now we sell just as much if not more clothing in major cities like NY or London because buying online is the preferred method of shopping by our generation and the younger cats coming up. People in University, people working long hour’s …lots of people shop online at work.don’t get caught by your boss!

How did the venture start? With no outside investment and starting so young, where did you get the financing and guidance to structure the idea?
I had to rob a lot of convenience stores..nah it was very tough and we struggled for a longtime, maxing out credit cards. I borrowed a lot of money from friends and family. My girl was working so she supported us. The original office and warehouse was my parent’s basement so that helped a lot with overhead. I had no business experience or retail experience so I basically knew that I didn’t know sh!t, I was able to get older more experienced people to basically mentor me and I learned as I went along. I kept extending myself, getting deeper in debt. I invested all the money I had and then looked to my family and friends. My Dad invested, cousins, friends, and friends of friends so I just set out in my mind that failure was not an option. If we had gone under I would have had a mob calling for my head.

The online mega store jumped off in a period when street wear wasn't what it is today. Who were some of the first labels you worked with? And how did you feel about venturing into a market that hadn't receiving much hype?
We started with Triple Five Soul, Gypsies And Thieves (GAT - which turned into Green Apple Tree, a brand we no longer carry), Spiewak (which we are still selling), CAT (a lot of people don’t know but CAT work wear had an ill fashion brand but they dreaded it for some reason), last but not least Caffeine (you had to be on something to have worn those.)

2005 you opened a store in Boston, what made you branch out into retail? And are there plans of opening any other locations?
We actually opened the store in 2005. Like most things we do we didn’t give it a lot of thought we just did it. I was just walking down the street and I was like “lets open a store.” Boston is our hometown so it is like our headquarter hangout, we have a lot of parties there. You can see some of the pictures of them on We are about to totally renovate it after December. No plans right now on opening anymore. We are focusing our energy on Karmaloop TV, which is launching Nov 26th. It is out of control. Karmaloop TV is an on-line channel dedicated to global future culture, fashion, art, and music. The site features all original content produced in house by Karmaloop TV. The site will have unique programming, in-depth interviews, behind the scenes pieces, and other exciting coverage of events and street culture from all over the world. Some of the personalities signed on to be regulars on Karmaloop TV include: Moonshine of the Beatnuts, Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes, world famous DJ and E! Channel regular Clinton Sparks, and Rob Heppler of Hypebeast and Dub Magazine. Regular Karmaloop TV partners include: Missbehave Magazine, Complex Magazine and Underground Hip-Hop .com. A small sampling of celebrities or events that have already been filmed and will be featured on Karmaloop TV: DMC of Run-DMC, Roxy Oxycottontail, Gym Class Heroes, Kenna, Slum Village, Kevin Michaels, Talib Kweli, Pro Skater Amy Gunther, Greger Hagelin CEO of WeSC, Actor Jason Lee, 7th Letter Crew, Little John, Scion Art Installation Tour, Jonas Bevaqua Founder of LRG, Visual Artist Shepard Fairey, Mighty Healthy, Cut and Paste Show, Russell Simmons, Hieroglyphics, Nick Cannon, and DJ Steve Aoki.We are estimating conservatively that Karmaloop TV will receive 1 million unique visitors a month and roughly 3 million impressions a month in the first few months after the launch.

Many people are concerned with the state of street wear, the subculture being somewhat watered down. With every other kid taking a fruit of the Loom Tee, slapping a colorful design with a funky name on it, and calling it street. What is your mentality when considering dropping a new label on KARMALOOP?
First of all, I think it is dope that technology has made it possible for lots of people to make their own designs and clothing; it has leveled the playing field. Think of the alternative huge monolithic retailers like Gap, Abercrombie, and The Limited controlling the whole market, offering little choice, no creativity and making everyone look the same, that is still the norm for a lot of people. That being said, there is also a lot of shit out there along with the good stuff, but I would rather it be that way than just all shit which is not hard to imagine as the alternative. We started the Karmaloop Kazbah, which is the site for up and coming smaller indie brands on Karmaloop. We have about 45 to give the people making clothing in their loft or just starting out the opportunity to get their stuff out to a larger audience. But we don’t just let anyone sell their stuff on the Kazbah only about 3% of all the brands who apply to be on the Kazbah get picked so that is one way to weed out the watered down stuff and pick out the gems.

The site has recently received hype from artist like Kanye West, Questlove, and snatched the Dig This Award for "Best Urban Street wear Store". Do you think that getting your consumers so adequately involved with features like The Kazbah, online questionnaires, allowing customers to model your product, and using them as promotional reps contributes to a large percentage of Karmaloops success?
Def cool to get recognition. Yeah, Kanye is our man he always comes by and says what’s up when he is in the Bean. We are proud he called Karmaloop one of his favorite stores. He shops in the store and on the website. Quest, Jason Lee, Robin Williams, Kevin Garnett all sorts of cats. But all of our customers are equally important and we don’t front like other stores I think we are real with our customers and they respect that. We screw up just like anyone and when we do we are honest and go above and beyond to make it right. I talk directly to my own customers. They can get at me if there is any issues that they think haven’t been addressed by customer service. We constantly remind our customer service people how much we want to be on point and respond to our customers. The brands we have are a result of customers asking for them. Our customers are models, marketers, and half our employees started out as customers. I believe it hasn’t just been a huge part of our success it is the reason for our success … the Karmaloop family is global.

Karmaloop is currently collabing with fellow blog HighSnobiety in the "Give-Away a day" venture, any more collaborations in works?
We are doing a ton of clothing and sneaker collabs with brands like Grey One, Reebok, Puma, my man Irv and Major Threat, Ray and Mighty Healthy, Rusty and SSUR, WeSC and Greger Van Haglen. It is a long list. We are super tight on a personal and professional level with our brands..even though most of the people mentioned above are in jail.

Describe your personal style? And favorite label right now?
I like cleaner lines. Fresh kicks of course. Right now I’m into muted tones and lots of blacks but bam I will hit ya with a flash of color when you least expect it. I would say you could call my style Neo-Ninja Disco Workwear Chic. I can’t say my favorite labels I don’t want 80 angry calls…

Lastly, who's in your Ipod?
This is what I have been listening to lately:

Clinton Sparks & Kardinal Offishall do the right thing mixtape

Kanye West

DJ Jayceeoh and on and on, Masters Volume 1

New Young Pony Club

Jungle Brothers/ Quest/Black Sheep…Native Tongue




Dresden Dolls


Teriyaki Boyz

Flosstradamus and Kid Sis

Ohio Players

Spank Rock

Mark Ronson



Dilated People

Daft Punk

Cut Chemist

Kevin Michaels

Wil I am