P.R.C. – Peoples Republic of Clothing Interview
MSW: Whats the history behind PRC?
PRC: PRC started in 2006. Being a student at the University of Washington, at the time I was often up studying late at night with my friend David Fung (a co-founder and current co-owner of the company). Over the course of a few months, we had many discussions about what we were doing in college and whether we felt our lives were following a fulfilling path. Both of us agreed that becoming caught up in the so-called “rat race” was not our most satisfying option. We wanted to be our own bosses.
One particular night we were talking about our interests – in particular, our love for fashion. In my mind, the opportunity was too perfect: two college students looking for a creative outlet, and here was a common foundation on which to build. The decision was quickly made; David was a business major, myself interested in pursuing sociology/communication, and my father was, conveniently, an artist by profession. Our three skills combined made a solid base for starting a clothing brand.
We began holding regular weekly meeting and the ideas were flowing fast. While the focus was on urban wear, we wanted the brand to be versatile – not only in design but also in appeal. Like its namesake (Peoples!), this was going to be a brand for everyone, regardless of their personal interests or background. It was definitely a very broad and ambitious beginning, but after three years of following this basic rule, we have consistently been able to offer products that have proven to attract all kinds of people.
Since its founding, PRC has continued to grow with the help of friends and family. Earlier this year, we were able to launch another branch to the company that is involved in custom apparel and accessories for groups and organizations – something that’s been able to keep us busy as well as help fund PRC’s projects. We’re heading into 2010 feeling good about the state of our brand as we continue to grow a stronger presence in the greater Seattle area.
: Who is behind the creation of this label/brand?
PRC: I was the one who brought the initial founding group together, but the brand has consistently been developed by all those involved over the years. Currently we are a company of 9 – David Fung, my father Justin Lee, Andrew Chang, Andrew Fung, Kristian Sanford, Kiwon Suh, Sophie Luc, Daniel Cheng, and myself. All of us contribute our ideas, time and effort to keep PRC moving.
MSW: Whats the meaning behind PRC clothing?
PRC: Peoples Republic of Clothing came from the acronym PRC – originally known as the Peoples Republic of China. It sounded good, and as a bonus, the original founders (David, Justin and myself) are all Chinese-American, so we thought of it as a creative fit. With that being said, our intention of creating a brand that anyone can appreciate – the people – tied into the implications of the name. Our designs are wide-ranged and have sold to customers of literally all sizes, ages and ethnic backgrounds.
MSW: What are some of the inspiration behind the label/brand?
PRC: We draw inspiration from anywhere and everything. With the global network available via TV and internet, ideas are free-flowing and available to whomever cares to look. Among us, we’re into sports, hip hop and education. We take a genuine approach to our creative process – the brand is based on personal experience and interest. What that means is PRC will never pretend to be something it’s not. That’s why on our tag you see the phrase “Be Authentic”. I think that fits.
MSW: Who are you targeting your clothing towards?
PRC: The brand is intended for everyone’s enjoyment. We’ve had customers and fans from ages 14 all the way into their 50s. Perhaps that’s just the nature of our designs – different ones appeal to different people. We try not to polarize or discriminate, but I know in this fashion environment that is very tricky to do.
However, with that being said, if I had to articulate who the target consumer is I would describe them as “urban sophisticates” – the intelligent person who enjoys the experience of learning about life and the world. PRC respects those who put themselves out there with a positive attitude and that’s the kind of energy we put into our products. This brand is for all the students of the world.
MSW: What do you have to offer customers that you feel is different from the clutter in the industry?
PRC: The best thing about PRC is that our designs are created by our own personal experiences and viewpoints of life – the label is not simply based on trends or anything that we pretend to be as people. Ideas are thrown around the table, worked, re-worked and finally agreed upon by consensus. This is a rigorous process that can take much more time than “I personally like it – let’s make it”, but the end result is something that we all like. A bit watered down perhaps, but definitely more appealing to a wider audience. That is the power of our creative process and ultimately is what gives us a bigger customer base.
We spend an abnormal amount of time on the creative process as well as the design result. Each finished design must be aesthetically correct – every piece must be in the right place. As the head designer, Justin is in charge of perfecting each design. Often his ideas and suggestions drastically improve the quality of each piece. In this way, the end product is usually a 20 year old’s idea from a 50 year old’s perspective. That’s special, and that’s unique.
: What do you have planned for the future of PRC?
: We’re looking to continue growing the visibility of the brand. This means a combination of aggressively approaching local and regional retailers and consistently sponsoring and appearing at events. As we grow locally we’ll be able to expand to a regional presence and beyond. PRC has some serious potential, but we’re going to need to put in the effort to get there. I’m looking forward to it.