August 12th, 2008 - New York
With so many designers vying for the top spot, menswear in New York is a competitive game. Though the verdict is still out as to who will rise, German-born designer Robert Geller is a safe bet. Geller (formerly of Cloak) churns out fiercely cut garments in none too precious fabrics that are frippery free and infectiously cool. We recently caught up with the New York-based Geller, who told us how his eponymous brand got started, what gets his creative juices flowing and dished his advice on how men can look good.
JC Report: Tell us how and why you started your label Robert Geller.
Robert Geller: After leaving Cloak, I started working with a small womenswear collection. Working in womenswear is fascinating, but I knew in my mind that I wasn't done with menswear. One day, I received a call from a foreign investor who expressed their desire to support a new collection under the Robert Geller name. After much planning, negotiations and a lot of traveling, I launched my first season in autumn/winter of '07-'08.
JCR: What gets your creative juices flowing?
RG: I tend to be inspired by places and time-periods that I find fascinating. For instance, the fall collection started by looking into Prussia in the mid-19th century. I pictured it as very dark and at a time where there was an intense curiosity to understand the world. These images build in my mind as I start researching the subject. It isn't really referencing the reality of how men were dressed at the time, but more of what I would have wanted them to look like.
JCR: Your price point is really attractive, but your offerings do not sacrifice quality. How do you balance the creative and the commercial aspects of your work?
RG: I have great people who I work with in all aspects of the business. Production and quality is something we take very seriously. We continue to research and work hard to find out ways we can offer good price points without sacrificing the quality.
JCR: There are so many menswear designers in New York. How do you stay competitive?
RG: There are many US-based designers getting a lot of attention now, which brings general interest to all of us. I can't remember a time when so many US designers have done so well. It is an exciting time, especially in menswear and I'm very happy to be a part of it.
JCR: How do you compare menswear between New York and Europe?
RG: I think that the atmosphere in Europe is much stricter. Because of the sense of history there, it takes much longer for a new designer to be accepted and receive proper attention. New York is supportive of young talent especially in menswear. I think that over here we're all happy to see local talent emerging.
JCR: What is your best style advice for men?
RG: Do not take it too seriously. The most stylish people all seem to have a lot of fun with the way they dress. It has to be natural and fitting to your personality.
This interview was conducted by Robert Cordero.