We met Michael B. of Lord Burchen during NYFW at the presentation while waiting on line for some much needed wine. We loved his style and took some street style pictures of him. When he told us his outfit was from his own debut collection, we knew we had to learn more! We met for an interview the very last day of NYFW outside Lincoln Center, and he brought along close friend and fellow designer Hasani Din for a special two-for-one men’s designer interview. We talked about clothing, transpiring back into different time eras, and the one essential item you need to rock during your first date.
Labeling Men: Tell us about your brands…
Hasani Din: The concept of my brand started when I realized there was a serious lack of pieces in menswear. I noticed that we have collar shirts, blazers, pretty much the same stuff. I really wanted to take some of the aspects of women's wear and add them to the men’s wardrobe in a more manly way. What I do is, I study cultures. This particular collection came about from me studying the Muslim culture in Spain in 700 AD. Just the way that they drape things, how comfortably they looked. I just mixed it in with my own past experiences. Like Dragon Ball Z…I'm a very big fan of Japanese anime and I infused it together and I put it into design and that is how I came up with my first collection.
Michael B.: What I do, similarly, is that my collections come from different time eras and cultures. This collection was more about the Vikings. As a youngin [sic] I always watched "Xena: The Warrior Princess" and "Hercules'' and I've always loved that time. So I thought about just kind of mixing that with a futuristic look and creating something for men that is outside of the box.
L.M: How would you label your brands’ style?
H.D: I would say my style is a cultural blend of androgyny. You've got male aesthetic, you've got male drapery, and everything is basically styled, cut, and draped in order to accentuate a man's physique. I guess my style would be in three words: Culturally, Calm and Confident!
M.B: My style would be more: Cutting-Edge, Biker, Bad-Ass, if you don't mind me saying that!
L.M: We love it, please continue!
M.B: And it’s grungy, it’s rugged. That's my personal style. My brand Lord Burchen is definitely my personal vision in fashion, which is more grunge and more futuristic. It’s contemporary with some avant-garde.
L.M: What makes your designs stand out from the competition?
H.D: What makes my stuff different is the attention to detail that I pay to every single one of the garments. I'm not just making stuff that looks cool from 10 feet away or something that you can just look at. I'm really making functional pieces; I'm making functional wear. I have pants where the pockets are a lot deeper, easier to get into because they are a little bit more slanted. I have waxed denim on the inner pocket so that your hand can just slip into it without trying to fidget into your pocket. You aren't going to lose your phone because it will never slip out of your pants because they are so deep. I'm thinking about really excruciating detail. On another one of my pants, there is this pinning on the bottom so it rests right on top of the sneaker. It’s little subtle details in every single one of the pieces in my collection.
M.B: I'm a gadget kind of guy so I deal with it like that. I'll create one piece that you can wear two to four ways and that’s what I like. I'm shopping a lot and if I'm spending a certain amount of money, I feel like it should be worth it. If you can only wear one piece one way with one thing, I mean it’s okay. But the more you can do with a single piece, the greater I think the piece is worth and does for you. One of my shirts is an oversized shirt, has a cowl neck with a hood. The cowl neck is detachable, you can flip it to the back, flip it to the front. When you flip it to the back, it looks like you have a regular shirt on with a hood. When you take it off, it’s a regular shirt, then it kind of transforms into a scarf piece - a mask - the scarf actually snaps to the front of the hood and covers your face. So that is three to four ways you can wear that piece alone. That's why I feel like my brand is definitely different from a lot of the brands out there. I'm giving more, I'm caring more about you getting your money's worth and wearing it different ways.
L.M: That is really exciting! Are there any stores that either of you are currently in?
M.B: Lord Burchen isn't in any stores right now. I look forward to being in stores within a year or so!
L.M: Ideally, where would you want your clothing to be?
M.B: I would take it overseas, to Europe. That's where I see it really. To Japan as well. They are really cool out there and I love their fashion!
H.D: Well, if I did want my stuff in stores - which is something I am thinking about now - might just go the Frank & Oak independent route and just open up a e-commerce site, open up a storefront and really just control my market that way. I'm young, I just started, still making the decision in my head. But if I had to choose a store, I would definitely say Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales even. But I'd want to have my own section, with a "Hasani Din" wall and the Taj Mahal. I got it all planned out in my head!
L.M: If you don't have it planned out exactly as you want it in your head, who else will?
H.D: Exactly! You hit the nail on the head. It’s how us creative types think. The whole thing is mapped out, and that's why we go so hard with everything we do. Because if you don't do it exactly the way that I need it to get done, then it’s going to take forever because I need it done exactly the way I see it in my head.
L.M: You guys both grew up in the New York area. Do you think NYC in general has any influence on your style?
H.D: 100%; New York is the reason I started designing. I would take the Long Island Rail Road all the time to 34th Street Penn Station. I would just see everybody, all over with such different styles. My style most closely represents New York because it’s so cultural and New York is so cultural and there are so many people here from so many different countries. Danielle [a friend who accompanied them on the interview] is from Israel. You know I just met her and I'm already gaining influences from being with her for a hour. Mike is from the Bronx. I'm getting the grunge, the "concrete rose" kind of feel. I also started interning on the Lower East Side, which also helped a lot.
M.B: Well actually I've been in the Bronx the last four years. I grew up in Harlem. But I'll say that New York City has made me open my mind about what I want to create and how I want it to look, making it more out of the box. The reason why I started designing, I've always been in my own world, even as a young kid. While other kids were playing with Batman and Superman, I was watching “Xena: The Warrior Princess” and “Hercules.” So it’s those different time eras I was into and was intrigued with it’s fashion from back in the day where we weren’t even born in. To bring that to the future now and beyond it is what I'm about. When I first started doing it, it was kind of weird, coming from Harlem and the Bronx. My culture isn't too open to my style and what I want to do, so being in "the city,” in Manhattan, really opened up my mind to let me know I can do whatever I want, whatever I see and I visualize, bring it to life and that’s a huge thing. So yeah, New York City is a huge influence and inspiration as to why I do this.
L.M: Is there any other city you would call an inspiration?
H.D: I've studied many different cultures and religions and belief systems. Like the Taj Mahal was a prominent piece in the collection that I just did. Spain, India, the Buddhist culture, the Asian culture. Like I told you, Japanese culture and Japanese anime. I wanted to make Goku's pants [from Dragon Ball Z]. It’s like the greatest thing of all time! I would look at his pants and be like, "I want to make those, why doesn't anybody make them? How do we do that?” It took us forever to do but we nailed it! It’s something that looks just like it. I'm a very worldly guy so that’s something you'll see in my future collections.
M.B: I will say the same as well. We are very culturally inspired, worldly, so it can be anything that gets our attention and inspires us to create. I'm more of the time era guy - I love the different time eras - and bringing into the modern world, mixing it up and keep it fresh. Also my culture and background where I came from, hip-hop, being a dancer before the fashion clothing, the rappers, and bringing the culture into it too. Because that is what I knew first. When I was born, I was listening to rap music, so that's definitely not going anywhere.
L.M: We're going to switch gears here and talk a little about dating! What do you guys first notice or think is most important - in terms of fashion - on a first date?
H.D: The first thing I notice is shoes. I'm a really big fan of footwear; shoes are the very first thing. You always say you scan a person down, but then you pay attention to the shoes the most and it’s like making sure the shoes are not scuffed, that it’s a cool style, then we can start…completing the look.
M.B: I will definitely agree with the footwear. Being young too, when you go to school, the most important things were the footwear. You can put the outfit together but the harder thing was footwear with the outfit.
H.D: Yeah! How were you going to top it off?!
M.B: How you were going to top it off was the thing about it. So footwear is definitely most important.
L.M: Everybody for footwear!
M.B: Tells a lot about you and who you are too. You can get that out based on what people have on their feet. How you dress for a certain occasion can really tell if you're a person that goes out to different events. And you can see the change up. If you're not, you won't see the change up, you'll see what they can do, what they do most of the day, their lifestyle, if they care about what they're wearing or not.
H.D: If you aren't on point, you'll get clowned on; keep your shit in check!
L.M: Do you guys have any funny or dating horror stories?
M.B: I have a few, I just don't know if it’s appropriate!
L.M: We don't need names, we just want details!
M.B: I met this girl – it’s a weird story because I used to work with her sister at the time and they were prank calling my phone, started telling me what the hell I was wearing while I was going to work everyday and it was starting to scare me. I was trying to figure out who it was. I ended up getting connected with the sister, started talking to her more. And when we met that day, I invited her to my house and we started talking and having a chill conversation. Then it takes a real left turn out of nowhere, and she starts kind of slamming all the pieces of my furniture around. Like the remote, being really randomly aggressive and I'm thinking, "This is not cool at all!" I tried to politely kick her out and that didn't work. So I really had to start cursing and you know, calling her some kind of names, like “asshole” and “you're weird” and "this shit is crazy!” That's how I had to speak to her! Then she started saying, "I don't like the way he is talking to me so I should leave!” That was really weird for me!
L.M: Now that is a horror story!
M.B: Yeah, pretty much.
H.D: I took a girl to the movies. I wasn't driving at the time and I had to borrow my friend’s car. And this was a girl that I was really into and I knew she was into me too. So if anybody knows me, they know that I am the most forgetful person ever! Mike knows that, that’s why he's laughing over there right now. I was actually on point all night, I did take her to the movies but it was more like the connection was already established and we knew. And everything is going perfect and it’s the end of the night and we are about to go to her place, her dorm to tell her goodnight and I ended up leaving the keys in the car! So I spent the whole night trying to get the keys out of the car, waiting for AAA to come. It was so bad! Everything was going so well and boy, it crept up on me, like it usually does. But we ended up dating for three years after that so it’s not really that bad!
L.M: Lastly, besides not going to movies on a first date, do you have any dating advice?
H.D: I would say be as loose as possible, be yourself because if you start trying to act like somebody else, you have to keep up that front forever and it never really works out like that. Don't be afraid of rejection; don't be afraid of the awkward silence. Break the ice a little bit and enjoy yourself and make sure the other person is having fun too!
M.B: Little piggyback off what Hasani said, I'll agree with being yourself. For the guys, we do a lot of research with everything, and what I find is a lot of us guys are intimidated by a beautiful woman. We won't really approach her, kind of stumps us in what we want to say and I feel like approaching these women, they just want somebody to have a regular conversation. You don't have to use any big words, you don't have to put on a front or pretend to be someone else. Just go after whatever it is that you want and speak your mind! Just got for it, be yourself, speak your mind…
H.D:.And don't be afraid!
M.B: And don't be afraid of rejection. Don't be afraid because it is going to happen to the best of us. Even the best looking guys get rejected, so just go ahead and go for it!
Follow Michael B. of Lord Burchen on Facebook @LordBurchen
Check out Hasani Din’s website at www.hasanidin.com
Interview by Nisim Frank
Photos by Rebecca Hidalgo