Rhude Designer Rhuigi Villaseñor Is Making the Leap

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A show in Paris still feels like a pretty important business decision, then?
Absolutely. Obviously, it shocks the business, not just financially. It takes a lot of ammo, too. To produce the show, not to mention [producing one-off samples]. But yeah, I thought we were prepared, I thought we were ready.

What made this the right time?
Well, we’ve been selling and growing with retailers globally. The brand is getting stronger and sell-through is great. I thought this would strengthen it.

You mentioned a vision, what do you feel like that vision is, how would you articulate it?
Well, with this collection, first off, I didn’t want to shock consumers or anyone new to the company. I wanted it to be an introduction to the body of work I’ve put in. From the old graphic tees that I’ve done and different silhouettes. And also suggesting that I want to grow this into something much more than just T-shirts and pants, opening categories that I feel like we’re very comfortable with.

Sneakers is one of those, right?
Yeah, sneakers, the boots, and also leather goods.

Sneakers feels like a really natural extension for you and your brand—that just makes a ton of sense.
Yeah, exactly, but my partner is actually the one who was like, “We have to do sneakers.” It’s funny, because when we were developing, I was like, “All right, well, I’ll design sneakers and stuff, but I’m going to head to boots immediately after this.”

What draws you to boots?
I’ve been collecting loafers, boots even, since high school. I really couldn’t even explain why I like it, but it’s just what I collect. But, for footwear, the reason, it’s got that vintage flea market kind of feel that’s still very true to ourselves. I want something that’s really authentic.

Were you ever worried that you were going to get pegged as just a T-shirt brand?
That was never really a worry. I’ve always been clear of what my talents are, and my background, but, it’s just… you never want to stay too long at the party, right?

We just did an interview with Bobby Hundreds, and he was on top of the world at one point. He talks about how people would come up to him and say, “You’re the new Supreme, you’re the new Ralph Lauren,” and now obviously he’s in a really different place. I wonder: you’re incredibly hot right now, do you worry about sustaining that, or do you think about how you can kind of keep that momentum going and keep building?
That’s been on our minds, and it’s just full preparations for everything. But I think that happens when you lose excitement for the clothes. And there’s also natural things you can’t stop—it’s just people’s behavior. Sometimes the wind blows in a way that we never thought it would. But I’ve been fortunate enough to have this steady growth. It doesn’t really worry me, but it’s in my head.

Is part of that why you want to do furniture design? Does that protect you against that happening?
No, just as I keep going further, I want to make a clear statement of what my world looks like, and who my guy is and this commonality and this acquired taste my consumers have. And it’s spaces that I know that I’m very comfortable with and knowledgeable about. So I thought it would make sense. And I already think about furniture when I design clothes, and I think about what’s this guy driving, what kind of chair is he sitting in?

What sort of chair does the Rhude guy sit on?
It’s wooden, it’s definitely wooden, and handmade, but with a hint of brass and age.

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