BEHIND THE SEAMS: Control Sector
Control Sector has been a brand that we've had on our radar for a year now, since going to their show in LA last year. The duality between high fashion and street wear isn't being done anywhere else in the men’s fashion game and if it is, it isn't like Control Sector. About to celebrate their two-year anniversary, we finally got our wish and visited their New York offices and sat down with trio Adam Thomison, Luke Deenihan, and Maxwell Amadeus to discuss all things Control Sector. Their amusing banter made it feel like three friends simply chilling out, but make no mistake about it - this talented trio has their eye on the prize. Their creativity is unprecedented and now with a surprising heavy-hitter behind them, we're expecting them to get to that next level and change the way men see fashion forever.
Labeling Men: First, lets go around like in high school: everybody state your name, what you do for
and something cool about yourself.
Adam Thomison: This is Adam, I'm the Director of Operations for Control Sector and there is pretty much nothing cool about me! These guys will agree; I do all the boring stuff with the computer.
Luke Deenihan: This is Luke, the Director of Design at Control Sector and I do a lot of computer stuff, a lot of system things, graphics and I generally make a lot of the electronic communications happen. Interesting thing...I like music and art, like a lot. I don't know if that's interesting and I think that it contributes to our vision.
Maxwell Amadeus: My name is Maxwell, I am the Creative Director for Control Sector. I work together with the Design Director creating patterns and developing styles for each individual season. I come from a background of a competitive snowboarder and now I'm a fashion designer and it’s what I love to do.
Labeling Men: Now let the official interview begin!
Maxwell Amadeus: Are we done? Is that it?
Labeling Men: [laughs] I think it would be a pretty sucky article. My first question is how did the brand begin?
Adam Thomison: The brand started years ago, Luke and I were spray painting t-shirts on the beach in San Diego. The economy crashed, it was 2008, and we were all very poor and spray painting t-shirts on the beach and trying to figure out just how to make money for tacos, as Luke would say, just to eat. I had a friend in New York who talked me into coming out here because during the recession there was just more opportunity out here and we tried and have some of them made and they were kind of awful so we were wondering, how do you do this for real? While I was out here, I discovered F.I.T. and their production program and Luke had a background in graphic design and enjoyed designing t-shirts, so we talked about it and moved to New York and got to fashion school and started Control Sector. Well, we had a different idea at the time - start a street wear company. While we were there, we met Max, who is pretty cool and an opportunity kind of presented itself. We talked about it and the concept was born in April of 2013, and by June of 2013 we found our first investor and the company was officially started.
Labeling Men: Anything else to add guys?
Luke Deenihan: Nope, that was thorough; he's pretty damn good at that. He usually tells that part of the story. Nice job, Adam, that was good.
Labeling Men: What make your brand stand out from other street wear brands?
Luke Deenihan: We always talk about ourselves as a contemporary street wear brand and sort of the thing we say is, "We aim to defy convention yet remaining wearable.” What we do is we create clothing that might be a little bit left of center but is still wearable, it’s still everyday clothing, we kind of refer to them as "interest staples," and what it is we make our brand sort of available to a lot of different mindsets, a lot of different lifestyles and we tend to think about it like that.
Labeling Men: Building off that, what type of guy do you envision wearing Control Sector?
Maxwell Amadeus: That is a great question. I mean basically a lot of our rappers and hip-hop performers wear our clothing.
Luke Deenihan: It’s a mindset!
Maxwell Amadeus: Yeah, it’s more of that. When we design clothing, we really don't focus too on trend, what everybody else is doing. We take a different approach, where we use our intuitions, more than just inspirations to create stuff that we wished was in the marketplace. The people that wear the clothing, they are creative people that are interested in something that is, like Luke said before, a little left of center but wearable to people all at the same time. The guy is the guy.
Adam Thomison: I think a lot of the contemporary street wear these days follows the same vain of the long black and white. These guys have a background in menswear, so we really try and incorporate that into the street wear that we do and I think it really kind of elevates it from some of the other stuff that is out there.
Maxwell Amadeus: I feel like we're creating a guy, if that makes any sense.
Labeling Men: He's your guy!
Luke Deenihan: He's a Control Sector guy. I feel like a lot of people know who he is, I mean a lot of people are that, but it’s not such a definable thing. It used to be this market where you would refer to as a street wear market and then you would refer to the fashion market, and nowadays, menswear is kind of becoming sort of a blend of different things. Where we sort of say modern menswear and contemporary street wear is sort of the blend that we are, specifically what we try and go for, so I think there are people who have that in many different walks of life.
Maxwell Amadeus: It’s a mindset more than anything.
Luke Deenihan: Demographics are more like psychographics.
Adam Thomison: We do kind of walk that line where we have one foot in street wear and one foot in the fashion world, it’s how we do Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center - we've done twice - pop-up shop in Bowery, but then seeing some of your favorite rappers and DJs wearing Control Sector. So we've done really well occupying both markets and I think that's where we kind of want to continue to grow in.
Labeling Men: What was the one moment where you said, "Holy shit, we've made it, I can really make a living out of this.”
Adam Thomison: Well… [laughs]
Luke Deenihan: That's not the goal of the company, but achieving that is continuously what defines our day-to-day activities. The marketing stuff that we do and all, we dictate our own schedules for a lot of things. We're able to deliver the clothing when we need to deliver the clothing, we do a lot of marketing and photo shoots with that time.
Maxwell Amadeus: I would say the first time we ever did Mercedes-Benz [Fashion Week] and Lincoln Center was like a real defining moment for Luke and I to have just graduated out of design school, to be able to show at Lincoln Center is crazy. A lot of people were impressed. We did a Fashion Week show in Dubai, that impressed a lot of people. We were on America's Next Top Model and that was just weird for us to see ourselves on TV, it’s kind of funny to see that.
Labeling Men: Which season?
Adam Thomison: Last Season!
Labeling Men: Oh, cool.
Maxwell: We actually had Shei [Phan] walk for us, the first time we had a girl walk for us. Shei and Will actually walked for us...then Adam came later.
Labeling Men: That's awesome. Any tidbit about being on ANTM?
Luke Deenihan: That we are all terrible on television.
Labeling Men: [laughs]
Maxwell Amadeus: You don't know what you look like until you see yourself on television....what not to do!
Adam Thomison: It’s never something that we set out to do, being on TV or on ANTM, but this came up with another opportunity and we thought why not.
Maxwell Amadeus: It was nice, I enjoyed it, it was fun.
Labeling Men: You mentioned that celebrities have worn your clothing; which one is your favorite?
Adam Thomison: We really don't have favorites, we like them all. It’s really awesome to just see any of them wearing our clothing. Some people that you could see wearing Control Sector...
Maxwell Amadeus: I get really excited when I see people on their Instagram post outfits of Control Sector.
Adam Thomison: Seeing Waka Flocka [Flame] was really exciting.
Luke Deenihan: I'm always excited to see people who actually went out and found it themselves and bought it in the store. I like to find that out because it’s really exciting.
Maxwell Amadeus: I looked up to Chris Brown when I was younger and he recently just wore our stuff, so that's really cool.
Luke Deenihan: 2 Chainz was smoking the world’s most expensive weed while doing a segment for GQ wearing our shirt.
Maxwell Amadeus: That made my day, I won't lie. [laughs]
Adam Thomison: GQ has been doing this series called "Most Expensive-ist Shit with 2 Chainz.”
Labeling Men: Most Expensive Shit!
Adam Thomison: Most Expensive-IST shit!
Labeling Men: [laughs]
Adam Thomison: He basically goes around and does all this over the top stuff and in the recap video he's wearing our shirt, so every episode in Season 2, he's talking about the last episode while wearing our shirt. It’s cool because it’s GQ and it’s 2 Chainz.
Luke Deenihan: As an artist, I really enjoy his music; I think he's great.
Adam Thomison: We also have a lot of up and coming artists that are upcoming like us, who we have been working with since day one.
All: ZEUS, KING ZEUS.
Maxwell Amadeus: Crossfade.
Adam Thomison: Yeah Crossfade, even TJ Mizell, we partnered with the Jam Master Jay Foundation and TJ Mizell is Jam Master Jay's son along with A$AP Ferg's touring DJ and he's just been a huge supporter, so we've been working with him. So it’s not just everybody big. Xcessive is really starting to make noise in the EDM scene and we just shot a video with him wearing our clothes.
Luke Deenihan: Also just guys in places we didn't expect it to turn up. Guys in Los Angeles have been wearing it. Logic [a rapper] has been a really big supporter in Austin, Texas.
Adam Thomison: If we forget to mention anybody, we're sorry! What’s been really cool is not to just cool see these big names take notice of the brand and accept it, but just the smaller people that we all grew up with and discovered together, coming on board with this collective vision.
Labeling Men: Have you met most of the celebrities that have been wearing your stuff?
Adam Thomison: Not the big guys, so to speak, but most of the other guys that we've gotten really close to.
Labeling Men: Any particular celebrities you have any stories about that you've worked with?
Maxwell Amadeus: [Looks at Adam] Tell him about Papa Joe.
Labeling Men: Joe Simpson, as in Jessica Simpson's father?
Adam Thomison: Yup, he's a new partner in Control Sector! He's loved the brand for a long time, actually came to Dubai to support the brand and recently decided to partner. He's done really well with Jessica's brand - I'm sure most people know that he was very instrumental behind her brand - and he decided that he maybe wants to try and do the same thing for Control Sector. It’s kind of exciting for us, he's a branding genius, he really is a genius when it comes to branding and promoting and all of that kind of stuff and we're really excited to have him on board.
Maxwell Amadeus: We actually were just in LA last week and had a fashion show at his house in Malibu. It was a really awesome show.
Labeling Men: Congratulations on that! If you had to choose one piece from your collection for every guy to own, what would it be?
Luke Deenihan: Since the beginning, we've been doing the "XM T-shirts" as we've been calling them, shorter in the front and longer in the back. These are actually a really popular style now, a lot of brands are doing them now, but we like to think that we are on the forefront of that. The XM t-shirts are a staple for us. We also do bomber jackets that people really like.
Maxwell Amadeus: Every collection is all cut and sewn [by us], we're always coming up with new silhouettes and new ideas, we like to keep people on their toes as far as what people are going to see from us but still have those interesting staples.
Labeling Men: Playing off that, one item that you would recommend any guy to own a good piece of?
Maxwell Amadeus: I would say a good bomber jacket, it’s a great piece for any guy to own. It can make you look cool, it can make you look dressy, you can do a whole bunch of different things with it.
Luke Deenihan: A woven shirt, if you have a good woven shirt.
Labeling Men: What kind of other brands do you guys like besides obviously, Control Sector?
Maxwell Amadeus: I look up to a lot of different designers. My style is a collaboration of all of my favorite designers. There are so many...Helmut Lang, Raft Simons, Rick Owens, I also really like Tim Coppens, he's a great designer. One more, Yohji Yamamoto, that's my boy.
Luke Deenihan: I agree with Yohji Yamamoto. I guess I really like a lot of stuff that’s work wear stuff. I can't lie, people would make fun of me for dressing like a Post Man. Just work wear, there is no designer for that, just Dickies pants, stuff like that.
Adam Thomison: For me, since I'm more of the administrative side, everything I wear is Control Sector, so I'm going to say Luke and Maxwell Amadeus are my favorite designers right now.
Labeling Men: What do you guys have planned in the near and far future?
Adam Thomison: Global domination!
Maxwell Amadeus: We're continuously releasing new clothing that we update; it’s all kind of following the same brand DNA. In the near future, I see a lot more of our marketing efforts in other places that you might have not seen us before, and in the long-term future to be in more places. Anywhere you go, you'd start recognizing our logo.
Adam Thomison: Part of the reason we're bringing in Joe [Simpson] is to get that branding behind us and make Control Sector a household name. We want to be that staple go-to when people are trying to look cool and they will think Control Sector and I feel like in the next 2-5 years it will really be the case and I think we're going really accomplish that.
Labeling Men: Where can you find Control Sector to purchase right now?
Adam Thomison: My favorite place would be to go to www.controlsector.com. If you wanted to go elsewhere, if you're in Atlanta go to "404," they've been a great account, they're really awesome. Here in New York we're in Patricia Field and Lazaro down in Soho. If you're in Tokyo, you can get us in a few stores. Lee Jin out in Michigan and Aristocracies in New Orleans.
Luke Deenihan: We're in a lot of really good boutiques.
Adam Thomison: We're working on that, it’s all a process. Our two year anniversary is coming up in June and I think it’s going to be great, really honker down and get ready for this expansive growth we're looking forward to.
Shop Control Sector online at www.controlsector.com
Interview by Nisim Frank