Le Grand Cru - Sound In The Signals Interview

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Le Grand Cru is a clothing line based out of Seattle. Can you tell me a little about how the line started and what inspired you when you created the official logo for the brand?
Mike: Well I've always wanted to have my own tshirt company, so I first tried to start one just as a hobby. Things didn't go much further than brainstorming, but about 6 months later, Tommy called me asking if I was still pursuing it and that he wanted to see if he could be involved.

Tommy: Mike told me he put it on the back burner, but was willing to see what we could come up with. So he asked me to send him a few designs and it developed from there. As for our logo, Mike wanted something that was bold, yet very clean on aesthetics. I love typography and with that came our staple logo.

I was wondering if you could let me know exactly how a design starts to when it is finished. Who does the designing? What are the stages it goes through before it is printed?
Mike: Tommy does all the designing. I can't draw anything to save my life. I do however get to help with some creativity as far as color and placement. But other than that, it's easy because every time Tommy comes up with something, I'm in awe.

Tommy: Design is an observation of the world around you that comes out in your style. I collect everything from pantones to paintings, type to photography, music to ideology, i funnel that into categories on my desktop and then start charting a direction for a piece. I have basic fundamentals i adhere to, keep it clean, memorable, unifying, and something to offset the piece with a little mystery. That offset allows the viewer to dig a little deeper into the piece, you don't want them doing a once over and peaking out, make em dig into it. After i work through 1-20 versions I'll send my favorites to Mike and then we'll decide how to refine it together.

Le Grand Cru recently released a collaboration shirt with The Courage. Why did you guys decide to collaborate with that group and what was the inspiration for that design? Do you think you’ll make more artists collaboration shirts in the future?
Mike: The Courage are personal friends of ours. The reason we decided to collaborate with that group is because they support us just as much as we support them. We felt that since LGC is "up-and-coming", why not collab with someone else in the same boat. Thus the translation of Le Grand Cru, which is "the great growth" and our concept to try and help others grow too.

Tommy: I wanted the shirt to work independently of each other off the bat so both parties could recognize it as their own. A simple way of doing that was to swap out "The" from their name for the French "Le". People could see that as our shirt because of the French touch and fans of The Courage could associate with the shirt because it referenced the band's name. I then wanted to reference their craft of writing so I made 2 feathers for the quills and turned em into a wreath, like a medal was received for having 'le courage'.

Mike: We are definitely blessed to be surrounded by a group of talented people and are hoping that we can continue to help our peers and also reach out beyond our immediate circle in creating a bigger community/network.

You guys are closely linked with a few up and coming acts from Seattle. You work with a lot of musicians and they wear your clothes and support you. How has working with artists impacted the success of your brand?
Tommy: People are starting to recognize our brand. What's great about working with up and coming acts is that not only are we in the same hustle as them, but it also creates almost an underground buzz because we haven't hit mainstream yet. We've had people walk up to us telling us "oh, we've seen that shirt before" and that's a great feeling.

The “urban” clothing world has really gotten big over the last couple of years. What is your opinion of things getting so large and places like Karmaloop being so big? Is it all positive or do you think it has some negative aspects?
Mike: I love it. I do recognize that the market is SUPER saturated right now, and that everyone is trying to start their own brand. I feel like the difference with us is that we embrace the diversity. If you look at our blog, we push everything we like. We don't say "only wear Le Grand Cru" or "only listen/follow/read/etc to 'such-and-such'". If it's dope, we want to share it.

Tommy: Rarely do you see someone wear one brand head-to-toe. So many companies try to market for themselves. I believe that if it's good, people will find out about it, no matter what. Not to say that you don't have to put in work to get your stuff out there, but we find it more rewarding in collaboration rather than competition.

What do you think the worst trend in fashion was this year and what is one of your favorite trends in fashion this year?
Tommy: Worst trend hands down will always be copy cat. Someone makes a fresh concept, 10 others see success and try implementing it in their brand, then what was fresh is exhausted and usually watered down. I don't want to spend LGC energy on that, I don't want to neglect trend, I wanna operate with that in mind, but only to fuel creating outside of its mass saturation. IN saying that Native print anything was over done with only a few being high quality like Levi's killing it with their trucker jacket native print on the shoulders, that was nasty!

What is in store for Le Grand Cru in 2011?
Mike: We're hoping to continually release printable throughout the year of 2011, also adding a few more accessories to our product line. Eventually, we want to be able to create a full men's line in the near future, but we don't have an exact drop date for that yet.

Tommy: We want to continue to reach out and continue networking with people and organizations. We want to create shirts that help bring recognition to things that we care about. We'll also be looking to see if we can start getting some of our gear in some stores.

What do you want people to take away from your brand when they see it for the first time?

Mike: The aesthetics and diversity. We try to stay away from the "busy" (and everyone has their own definition of that). and want to keep things clean. And what we mean by diversity, take for example our 3 newest shirts, we feel that they can be worn by anyone, no matter how you dress or whichever category you feel like you belong to.

What has been your favorite piece Le Grand Cru has ever released and why?
Tommy: I'm big on type, so the pieces that push that I deff favor more. I think our hoodie with our huge cycle jersey branding column down the left side is bold, a little mysterious, and big letters is a plus. I always get asked about that piece more than any other LGC piece I wear.

Mike: For me, it's our 3 latest shirts. Because they still fit within our realm of aesthetics and yet all 3 of them are so diverse. I personally feel like we've been able to create something that can fit multiple styles.

I guess that about wraps it up. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have any closing comments you’d like to make?


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