I met James Murray for the first time at a PR event he was working shortly before he decided to launch his own agency. We began chatting about his perfect hairstyle and impeccable fashion, giving out men’s fashion tips from the start. Fast-forward to a few months later when James contacted me to ask Labeling Men to do an interview with one of his clients. As I walked into his office space for his agency, aptly named Supreme Public Relations, I was blown away by how busy he had already become. With his high-powered team hustling to meet their client’s demands, I couldn't help but notice the wall behind his desk with handwritten "Thank You" cards from Vogue among other top publications. These messages parlayed the conversation into doing a full feature with Labeling Men.
The word Supreme means "superior to all others," and that is the vibe that James gives off; a cool confidence, knowing he will get your brand where it needs to be. When thinking of where to go with the photo shoot, we agreed it needed to be on a roof deck overlooking the greatest city in the world, which James is conquering one day at a time. After the photo shoot, we sat down with him to discuss not only the beginnings of Supreme PR, but his personal taste in men’s fashion as well.
Labeling Men: Tell us about your beginnings - why you decided to join the fashion industry, and how you got into the Public Relations world.
James Murray: Right out of high school I moved to New York to pursue a career in the fashion industry. As a child, I was always known for being extremely talkative and outspoken. My parents tell me stories about how they never knew what would come out of my mouth, most of which was brutal honesty. I am still like this today, except I’ve gotten much better at not letting it leave the house. Fashion has always influenced me since I can remember. As a kid, I was always very well dressed and my mother used to put me in these over the top crazy outfits, but I loved it. I remember being about 7 years old and having a morning routine where I would put on my creams and do my hair and then pick out my outfit. It’s just been a part of me my whole life. I have always been very diligent with my personal care and appearance. As kids, my sisters and I grew up highly influenced by entertainment and fashion. I always knew I wanted to be something really big one day, and I wouldn’t settle for anything less. A mediocre life just isn’t how I roll…and fashion is far from mediocre.
Labeling Men: Of all the career options to take on in the fashion industry, why PR?
James Murray: Honestly, it just kind of fell into place. I am a strong believer that life takes you on certain journeys for a reason, and puts you exactly where you are supposed to be. When I moved to New York to pursue fashion I had no idea what I wanted to do exactly in the industry. I was not a designer nor could I sketch for the life of me. My artistic capabilities have always come in the form of communication. My first internship freshman year of college was in the PR Department at Donna Karan. I will never forget my first day there, watching the PR Director who I was assisting just doing her job, and I just instantly knew that’s what I was meant to do. I was born with the “gift of gab” and I think that just comes naturally for every successful publicist. You need to have a certain type of personality to do this job, and you need to be well liked.
Labeling Men: That's amazing! Was there a specific "a-ha" moment where you knew you wanted to open up your own PR company with your vision?
James Murray: I always knew I would one day work for myself. I was heavily influenced by top players in the industry. I had the opportunity to meet and/or work with all of them and I wanted their job. I remember back when I was in college, before I knew what I wanted to even do in this business (at the time I was interning at Zink Magazine), and my dad picking me up and I was showing him a copy of the magazine and he went to the page with all of the editors and asked me what I wanted to be, gave me a pen, and I circled whoever was on top of the page. Although I am not an editor, nor did I want to be at the time, I knew I wanted to be at the top and I work hard to get there, just like my mentors in the industry have done.
Labeling Men: Why did you choose the name Supreme PR?
James Murray: I've always liked the word "supreme,” and I really wanted something to represent my efforts. With everything I do in life, I put 100% of myself into it, so Supreme really described what my vision was for my company and what my vision was for the services that I'd be providing for my clients, which is top quality service.
Labeling Men: Absolutely. Tell us a little bit about that brands you wear.
James Murray: Currently, my favorite labels are Maison Margiela, Saint Laurent, Helmut Lang, and A.P.C. I wear a lot of black. I love a good jogger pant, so Margiela and Helmut Lang are my go-tos. A lot of European and Asian inspired designers because they fit me very well. I would label my style as tailored, dark, classic.
Labeling Men: Do you have any fashion icons?
James Murray: My number one fashion icon would be Hedi Slimane. His clothing really speaks to my personality and my lifestyle in general, and I've been a huge fan since he was at Dior. And of course, Karl Lagerfeld. But who doesn’t consider him their fashion icon?
Labeling Men: Expand on your fashion inspirations.
James Murray: Black is just my favorite color and it speaks to going back to that classic regime; it’s very much like that. I do try and wear some color, but for some reason I always go back to black, grey and white. I'm also into high-end streetwear and sportswear inspired collections, so a lot of those kinds of staple pieces are prevalent in my closet.
Labeling Men: What is your one go-to item, and then your favorite outfit?
James Murray: My go-to item is definitely a jogger pant right now. The fits and shapes change with season, but it’s something that you can dress up or down, and I love the way they look on me. For outfit, I would say a tailored sport jacket with a classic t-shirt underneath, very slimming. I love an ankle pant, very tailored, very classic and professional yet with a little edge.
Labeling Men: What is one current fashion trend that you love?
James Murray: Right now, I love mesh and I've been seeing it pop up in a lot of places - vests over button downs or throwing a mesh top over a t-shirt. I think it’s really chic and I wear it myself a lot and I love it.
Labeling Men: Do you think that could work itself into the men’s mainstream?
James Murray: Yes, I think for sure. For a lot of the Fall 2015 collections, I've also been seeing a lot of robe inspired jackets, but synched into a trench, which I love. Just throw it on, tie it at the waist, and you’re good to go.
Labeling Men: What is one men’s fashion trend that you wish that the men’s fashion world would stay away from?
James Murray: Tank tops. I’m so over the tank tops and shorts look, unless you’re on the beach. But when I see people wearing tank tops with cut-off jean shorts and Havaianas walking around Manhattan, I cringe.
Labeling Men: Tell us about the future plans for yourself and Supreme PR?
James Murray: My goal when starting this agency was to do something different from the other top agencies in the industry. Of course, I would eventually like to be labeled as a top agency. With that being said, we do plan on remaining exclusive, and we are very selective with the clients we take on. We don’t just take on any new designer that needs help. We really have to see a vision in our clients and they have to have that “it” factor in order for me to say, “Okay, I’m going to put my name behind them.” My intention is to stay exclusive, and eventually possibly expand to LA as we focus on celebrity dressings. I would love to have my own TV show. Now THAT would be interesting….
Follow James on Instagram: @classy_madness
Interview by Nisim Frank
Photographs by Chad Grigg
Lead Stylist: Laurean Ossorio [@laureanossorio]
Stylist Assistant: Ephranna Copeland
Second Assitant: Rachel Vasvari
Art Direction: Eric Ascher
Hair: Frankie Salati [@frankayy24] / Sorella Mia Salon [@sorellamiasalon]
Sunglasses: Portrait Eyewear [@portraiteyewear]
Watches: Versace [@versace_official]
Sunglasses: Crimson Visual
Gloves: Karl Lagerfeld [@karllagerfeld]
Jacket: Roberto Cavalli
Pants: Ev Bessar [@evbessar]
Long coat and Pants: Ev Bessar [@evbessar]
White Shirt: Doublju
Jogger Pant and Shoes: Helmut Lang