Interview: Mishka Celebrates 10 Years Of Streetwear Fashion

Longevity in the streetwear realm is no easy feat. Brands seem to emerge daily, plastering generic logos onto t-shirts one day and vying for their favorite musician's endorsement the next.

In 2003, Mishka set out to build its own empire in Brooklyn, NY - grabbing influences from the skate community, indie rock music, punk, comics and pop culture. The eccentric apparel company is now celebrating its 10th year of existence and has become a bonafide staple in the industry along the way. By intertwining music, culture and art into their designs, Mishka has seemed to have found the formula for long-term success. VIBE caught up with the brand's creative director Mikhail Bortnik and President Greg Rivera to find out exactly how Mishka has persevered and risen to the top.

VIBE: How difficult is it to remain original when streetwear brands seem to emerge daily nowadays?

G: It's not very difficult for us to be honest. I feel like we have always stood out in streetwear, from the first day we started in 2003. Fashion in general, is hard because everything comes in cycles. Sometimes, we are right on the mark with what is trending, or we are struggling to push a trend that is not going to catch on for a couple of years.

M: I think streetwear brands have always been emerging on the daily and that's going back to when we started in the boom of 2003 all the way through to now. We're just maybe taking notice of it more because of how tied in to social media we all are. How do we stay original? I think you'll probably get some differing opinions from people regarding how original we really are Ha! But our motto has always been to pursue what interests us, sometimes the stars align and it hits as a trend, sometimes we're a year too soon and other times it's a huge whiff. But originality in streetwear is a such a strange concept to even discuss when basically, streetwear's industry has always been re-apropriation and cycling old trends back as current ones fade. And there's really nothing wrong with that. We do it. Upstart brands do it. Huge fashion houses do it. Hell, upstart brands will even try to call us out on twitter for ripping off their graphic of say a "Knicks flip," without realizing that the Knicks logo has been flipped thousands of times before they or we ever did it and will be flipped a thousands more times in the decade to come. So originality and ownership of ideas and concepts gets kinda loose when "Flips" have historically been how streetwear brands first get noticed. One thing that we've actively tried is to steer more away from direct flips (which albeit is hard when you just get a good idea for one) and focus more on cultivating our own identifiable properties like the Keep Watch, The Death Adder, The Bear Mop, Cyco Simon. And we'll continue doing that and creating more icons and characters.

Is it important to Mishka to integrate music culture into the brands outlook? For example collaborating with Skrillex and DJ Sliink.

G: Music is so important! Have you checked out our blog (mishkanyc.com/bloglin) Music (and art) is the backbone of our lifestyle that we are constantly pushing and promoting.

M: Music's always been one of the creative backbones of this brand. Driving a lot of inspiration from day one. Music is the main form of marketing and promotion… from our Blog to the albums/mixtapes and mixes we release.

Has the brand ever considered producing a line for women?

G: Yes, and we have in the past but it cost us a lot more and was not as easy as we thought it would be. Fortunately for us, streetwear has become very unisex. So the clothes we design primarily for men are being adopted by women. We would like to do a women's only line. It's something that we have thought about for sure, we just are not sure when we are going to make it a full fledged line.

M: I think we're still trying to get a grasp on how to be a men's line and as Greg stated, our previous forays into women's were a lot more difficult than we initially imagined they'd be. Maybe some point in the future but right now it's heartening to just see girls taking mens clothes and re-appropriating them for their own style.

A lot of streetwear brands are borrowing styles from high end lines as of late, what do you think about this new trend?

G: You mean ripping off or flipping logos of high end brands? Yea, that is super trendy right now.

M: this has all happened before and will all happen again.

Does Mishka currently have any brand ambassadors? If no, how come?

G: Yes and No. We def. have a family of musicians and artists that we support and they support us. People like Damien of Fucked Up, Nathan and crew from Wavves, J. Masicis from Dinosuar Jr. We also have L'amour Supreme who is our in house illustration power hourse!

M: We don't seek out out people to wear our clothes and be faces of the brand. It's great when you see artists you love and respect gravitating to the stuff and becoming we wouldn't really say "Ambassadors" but friends of the brand.

Is it important for the brand to have the clothing worn by celebrities?

G: I think it is when it's done organically. I love seeing celebrities rocking our gear knowing that we didn't send it to them for free. They know that they have a choice of what to wear and that thousands, maybe even millions of people have their eyes on them, so it's cool when they choose to wear Mishka. Obvously, from a sales and marketing standpoint it's a great thing as well.

What goes into the decision to collaborate with another brand, for example Brooklyn Brewery?

G: They approached us actually! But it was awesome, cause we are all fans of Brooklyn beer and at the time we're right around the corner of our office. We love to collab and work with people when there is a mutual respect or admiration for both brands. It makes the collab fun and easy!

What benefits does including a blog on the site allow?

G: It allows us to talk to our fans directly. It also gives a platform to talk about what drives us as individuals and more importantly the creative forces and influences of the brand.

Does Brooklyn provide any inspiration when it comes to your styles?

G: Duh.

What can fans of the brand expect from Mishka in the future?

G: Well its our 10 year anniversary so expect a birthday bash at the end of the year. We also have a lot of fun collaborations happening in the near future. Keep Watch!

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Rihanna performs onstage during Savage X Fenty Show Presented By Amazon Prime Video - Show Sneak Peak at Barclays Center on September 10, 2019 in Brooklyn, New York.
Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Savage X Fenty Show Presented by Amazon Prime Video

Rihanna's Savage x Fenty Show Creates An Inclusive Silhouette For All

No matter your shape, size or physical ability, sexiness can be achieved. It's a mantra retail corporations have pushed but with Rihanna's Savage x Fenty Show in New York this week, it was a smoldering reality.

On Tuesday (Sept. 10) Brooklyn's Barclays Center was flipped into the entertainers' lair filled with 32 flavors of what womxn really look like. Thick thighs, ambassadors of the #littlebootiesmatter movement and members of the LGBTQ+ community sashayed across the stage in a confident spirit only Rihanna can conjure.

The second annual show took their talents to a new level by partnering with Amazon Prime to film the show. Cameramen jumped to the stage every now and then to catch models like Joan Smalls, Bella Hadid and performers Halsey, Big Sean and Tierra Whack. But the theatrics also matched the energy the models exuded–dominant, sweet, flirty and most of all assertive. It's a behavior assumed to be behind closed dungeon doors and for women who keep up Eurocentric beauty standards.

With Savage x Fenty, those stereotypes are thrown out the window. The brand has done well in that market. It's why it makes it the perfect segway into the next generation of lingerie brands. Critics have used their most witty phrases to compare the event to Victoria's Secret Fashion Show but as fans will see Sept. 20, nothing is like Savage x Fenty.

Their mission of inclusion didn't stop at the beautiful bodies and negligees on stage. The music paid homage to the hot girls we've loved before (Tweet, Eve) as well as dancehall riddims and Latinx house music.

As Rihanna continues to dominate the fashion/beauty industry (her LVMH collab, Fenty Beauty) the Savage x Fenty show will be just one of the many moments in fashion history we'll revisit.

Before the big reveal next week, see how it all went down from inside the event below.

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7:35 pm: The Dean Street entrance to Barclays Center looks like the outside of a club. There are models, rappers and fans who printed out fake barcodes to get in. After a few minutes of starting at the "Standing Line" section, I realize I'm in the wrong line.

7:40 pm: Doors aren't opening until 8:00 pm, so I get to enjoy some fresh air while checking out influencers wrapped in glitter and baby doll lingerie. Perhaps it shows what's to come this evening.

8:00 pm: The doors have officially opened. Like noted in the email, phones were placed into uber-secure YONDR pouches. I'm not mad at it all. With Amazon filming the show, it's only right that the audience is immersed in the experience.

8:13 pm: Sections aren't open yet but the red carpet is. Hip-hop is in the building (early) thanks to Migos, Big Sean and newcomer CHIKA.

8:16 pm: Some guests are starting to look uneasy without their phones. I’m so glad watches are still a thing–shouts to Casio, specifically A$AP Ferg’s collaboration design I rocked.

8:23 pm: In the bathroom and a favorable viral group comes in with plenty to say. “It's funny how celebrities act like they don’t nobody but they see everybody. Like, I know you see me." I feel you sis.

8:40 pm: Was asked to say hello to Rihanna on her Savage x Fenty Insta and totally fumbled it.

I let Rihanna down. 

8:54 pm: We're finally able to enter the show. The stage set up is a perfect combination of MC Escher stairs and gloomy Roman windows with a minimalistic twist.

Spotted: Bronx rapper Maliibu Miitch in a cozy fur, country star Kasey Musgraves in a perfect green fit, Chanel Iman and Ashley Graham with their mom glow as well as R&B duo LionBabe.

9:10 pm:  There’s a lady with a very big feathery hat sitting below me, she smells good.

9:20 pm:  Wow, it’s Dascha Polanco.

9:45 pm: Now that we're all seated, the DJ slows down the tunes and lights turn down low. It's starting.

9:46 pm:  Rihanna is front and center as ten dancers of all sizes flex (and look comfy) in black lingerie. The choreography is on point. The ladies are busting out their best bruk wine to the audience's delight.

9:47 pm:  The Savage looks are separated by color. Plenty of dancers and influencers hit the experimental runway. Bella Hadid looks too cute as she waves at the camera.

9:49 pm: Big Sean comes out (with his abs) and performs "Clique" before jumping into "Bezerk" with A$AP Ferg.

9:51: Blue and yellow bring us into the next phase of the show, paired with a sexy deep mix of Tweet’s “Oops (Oh My).” Cara Delevingne gets everyone in line and I love it.

9:54 pm: Red is the vibe and 21 Savage looks so happy in his blue steel walk. Women dominate the stage with accessories but one can help but appreciate how inclusive the show is. Short, tall, curvy, petite and people with disabilities are owning the stage.

9:56 pm: Laverne Cox came out of nowhere and just bodied her walk! It's a moment fans will truly adore. Tens across the board.

9:57 pm:  Migos perform “Pure Water”... in pure water. The pool is small and the guys seem to be unbothered by it. Shouts to their socks.

 

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A post shared by Migos (@migos) on Sep 11, 2019 at 9:01am PDT

10:03 pm: My handwriting goes to s**t once Normani takes the stage. Her moment makes me feel at ease about copping the new collection.

10:06 pm: I'd like to give props to the musical director. The blend of Wiley's "Boasty" and Eve's "Who's The Girl" is giving me life.

10:11 pm: It's time for another performance! DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, Fabolous take the stage but as predicted, Tierra Whack shines the brightest.

10:18 pm: Lace caps, sheer pants are the move in the lingerie game and I’m with it.

10:20 pm: Queen Rihanna comes out to a standing ovation. If she didn't walk away, I'm sure we would have clapped all night.

Spotted on the way out: Dave East, Mack Wilds, VIBE cover stars Naturi Houghton and Lala Anthony, Rapsody, Misa Hylton, Monica, Kehlani (who photographers couldn't get enough of) and actor Jharrel Jerome.

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Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for PUMA

Nipsey Hussle’s Puma Collaboration Sells Out In One Day

Fans were racing to get a piece of Nipsey Hussle’s posthumous collaboration with Puma. The capsule collection, designed by the late rapper prior to his death, debuted on Sept. 5 and officially sold out a day later.

100% percent of the proceeds from the sale of the PUMA x TMC Collection will benefit the Neighborhood Nip Foundation. The organization, founded by Hussle’s family, is on a mission to continue Hussle’s legacy by “empowering the South Los Angeles community and neighborhoods alike across the globe.”

Hussle broke down the collaboration during an interview with Power 106 weeks before his death. “It’s two sides to it,” he explained. “One side, I’m a brand ambassador for Puma. The other side is a collaborative project with The Marathon [Clothing] and Puma. We’re going to do multiple collections but the first one drops fall 2019, like around September. It’s going to be shoes, apparel, [and] a few accessories.”

 

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A post shared by PUMA (@puma) on Sep 5, 2019 at 7:59am PDT

 

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A post shared by PUMA (@puma) on Aug 20, 2019 at 1:19pm PDT

 

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The marathon continues 🏁

A post shared by PUMA (@puma) on Aug 15, 2019 at 9:00am PDT

 

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A post shared by Lauren London (@laurenlondon) on Sep 5, 2019 at 12:39pm PDT

Hussle was gunned down in the parking lot of his Marathon Clothing store on March 31, 2019. After his death, Puma announced that they would release the collection in his memory.

The PUMA x TMC honors Hussle as a visionary and legend. The collection is comprised of apparel and footwear embellished with checkered patterns and palm tress graphics, paying homage to Hussle’s Los Angeles roots and his moto: “The Marathon Continues.” Featured in the collection are black and white options of the PUMA x TMC sneakers, sweatsuits, jackets, T-shirts, pants, and socks.

Hussle’s girlfriend, actress Lauren London, shared behind-the-scenes footage from the Puma photoshoot on Instagram Friday (Sept. 6). Check it out below.

 

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He Did That! 💙 PumaxTMC

A post shared by Lauren London (@laurenlondon) on Sep 5, 2019 at 9:53pm PDT

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Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for PUMA

Nipsey Hussle's Team Unveils Puma Collaboration Release Date

Weeks before his untimely death on March 31, Nipsey Hussle shared with fans that he inked an endorsement deal with PUMA and a collaboration was on the way. The Victory Lap artist's social media account shared a post stating that the first collection would release Fall 2019.

After what looked to be an inactive Instagram page, Nip's team proudly announced on Monday (Aug. 19) that the highly-anticipated PUMA capsule will drop on Sept. 5. "Nipsey spearheaded this project from concept to final product over the course of last year, flying to meetings, reviewing samples, bringing in material references he liked, and most importantly ensuring that it reflected his style authentically with no compromise."

 

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Proud 2 Announce My 2019 Endorsement and Co-Branded collaboration w @puma & TheMarathonClothing is Fully Executed. 1st Collection Coming Fall 2019 🏁

A post shared by Nipsey Hussle (@nipseyhussle) on Mar 4, 2019 at 12:26pm PST

 

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Our team is proud to announce that our first collaborative capsule with Puma drops on September 5th 2019. Nipsey spearheaded this project from concept to final product over the course of last year, flying to meetings, reviewing samples, bringing in material references he liked, and most importantly ensuring that it reflected his style authentically with no compromise. Each detail from logo placement, fit, colorways, and materials was thoughtfully done. His signature style and DNA can be found in each garment that’s part of this collection from the khaki suit to the tracksuit. This project is very special to our team and we’re handling it with the utmost care to ensure it’s delivered exactly as Nipsey envisioned it. It’s a privilege for us to honor his commitment and carry out this project for people to receive a personally curated collection by Nip Hussle Tha Great.

A post shared by Nipsey Hussle (@nipseyhussle) on Aug 19, 2019 at 7:00pm PDT

The likes of YG, Busta Rhymes, Rick Ross, Trae Tha Truth, and more commented on the post in high spirits.

HotNewHipHop reports that PUMA Brand and Marketing Global Director Adam Petrick shared in a statement earlier this summer that Hussle's marathon will indeed continue. "We're going to continue to release some product that we've created with him," Petrick said. "We've also got some charity activations that we'll do to support what he was doing in Crenshaw, and trying to continue the work that he was doing through his foundation."

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