Fashion Citizen Spotlight : Brandon Williamson of PRSVR/SoleSearch
Today's Fashion Citizen Spotlight highlights a long time friend of Fashion Citizen, Brandon Williamson of PRSVR/SoleSearch. I've known Brandon for a little while now and he's been consistently chasing his dream and working towards the success of his vision. Under his PRSVR, Brandon along with his team has developed the very successful Sole Search app that is available in Android and Itunes market places. After the "more" check out our in-depth interview on Brandon, his brand and the future...
Can you tell the readers a brief history of PRSVR and how Sole Search came out of that?
Well, both are brands that I've developed under the Pangea Umbrella and then from Pangea we have several different divisions that carry out the law of the land. PRSVR (Persévérer) was created from a lane where we felt a void within the sneaker and accessory market. I was growing out of the Air Force 1/Jordan everyday phase, but wasn't quite wearing Allen Edmonds kicks all day! So, the plan was to develop a hybrid of sorts that came fully equipped with the boldness of a wing tip or other hard bottom, but the comfort and rugged qualities of a sneaker and we did that with our Coalition sneaker. Not to get too far off base, but that never came out and I began to focus on the luggage division as it showed more promise.
We have been expanding that catalog ever since, then with SoleSearch, it is the worlds first sneaker boutique finding application which is available for all Apple and Android devices. This app was created solely out of a place where I was trying to find an easier solution for when colleagues would contact me needing to know where stores were located when they traveled. SoleSearch has now grown far beyond my reach and has become the worlds first Sneaker Ecosystem.
We've been chums for a bit of time now, way back to the PRSVR mixtapes. Your brand has grown quite a bit since those days, how do you stay grounded?
But who is Brandon?
Good question! People usually always just see the business and my pictures and assume I pop bottles of Ciroc and hop flights all day..although that IS true, I'm really much more comfortable just listening to Reasonable Doubt driving on Lake Shore Drive with a pretty woman looking at the Chicago skyline! I'd much prefer to be on the black sand instead of pursuing being black man of the year. The grind is in me and is literally the majority of my being, but I'm still at the same time, very human, just lacking a true outlet.
Sneaker Culture to me, gives people an ability to be a nerd about something cool. People take the word nerd as something negative, when in fact, its just the ability to recite retained knowledge that most people wouldn't care to keep..at least that's what it means to me. We wear funny glasses, we dress strange at times, we form identities that are authentic to us that even if we wanted to do something else. This idea of being a nerd still shines through whatever we do. I personally am so attached to it because it was the one thing I could do to get attention and notoriety without having to say a word. If I come through to any event and have a pair of OG white/cement Jordan IV's on with the "NIKE AIR" on the back, I'm in there! It is no different from stamp collecting, or collecting vintage corvettes, or beanie babies, or an even better example, when they changed up the quarters and people were going crazy to get all 50 to put them on that board? Same thing, except sneaker culture isn't stupid..lol
What is your favorite pair that you own and what pair do you wish you owned?
My favorite pair I own is the GUCCI '84 sneaker. These were the sneaker of choice back during the Reagan era for various reasons and just an overall ill shoe! Jay Z bit the whole concept when he did his signature shoe with Reebok and GUCCI let it ride, but I honestly couldn't blame him for stealing the joint because it was such an iconic shoe. He knew he could win with that! For Spring 2011, GUCCI re-released it so I copped that one as well, but I have the original from '84 with the mesh toe and side panels.
I copped them out of a Louis Vuitton trunk that was inside this Second Hand Shop in Milan...I love a good story! The pair I don't own would be that Jordan IV white and cement. That's the shoe that was in Do the Right Thing and got stepped on in that classic scene where you can see a young Martin Lawrence! I've seen a few pair pop up here and there from their '99 release but they'll cost about $700 and I can't tell if they're real or not online so I've slept a few times, but I will find them. It's definitely all about the story on those!
The idea for the luggage was derived from realizing my impact and ability to reach people with a quality product. When I was 22, I started to fly more often, going to Milan, London, Toronto, etc so I had to get a nice bag for stunting purposes. I copped this Keepall 55 and paid way too much for it but I felt like I made it so now when you see me in the airport, you'll know I'm shining before you even check my passport stamps. I pattern a lot of what I do based upon how Dame did things at Roc-a-fella. His method of running that message was genius and it spawned so much good! We drink liquor? Let's get a Vodka. We wear kicks? Let's buy a shoe company. We need beats? Let's sign our own producers. It built up their brand to becoming relevant in many different venues. Some things could have been done differently, but for the most part, he had the blueprint (pun intended). So my crack at luggage was really a sense of why not make our own?
I set out to make a product that not only looks amazing, but appeals to those in the lanes of the young, fly, urban socialite who loves to fly. I wanted the product to stand out, but also give it function. So with all of that, I'm now ready to launch! Building a catalog, leaking images, doing some crazy one offs, and now planning a trunk show for the summer out in NYC! From there, I think I will begin to campaign for a Holiday 2011 release of a couple pieces solely depending upon what press and online presence I can create...otherwise I will just keep filling my closet with ill samples and 1-offs.
Of course everyone says they pattern their efforts after RL, and in a sense I do too. I saw a spread for Ralph one time where everything in the room was RL from his slippers, to his ottoman, and even some of the books in the room! I want PRSVR to be something that my clients feel speaks for them. Each piece was created with a certain endeavor or accomplished ambition in mind so that is something that I'd want to be carried on when they use their products. I see the brand becoming what COACH was in its height as COACH was created under a very similar guise or "filling a consumer void". It was less expensive than luggage from some of the fashion houses with comparable quality, but much nicer than brands on the other side of the scale with far superior quality and style. Its going to be one of those things though where its either for you, or its not although even when its not, you'll respect and admire the steps that I've taken to get to this point as its all been well documented the whole way through.
How can the readers find Sole Search and PRSVR on the web
Where does your brand match up amongst other brands? What makes it unique?
Well it depends on what brands we are talking about. If we are talking about those known for high end luggage lines ie GUCCI, Louis Vuitton and Goyard, PRSVR differs in the realm of being able to do more at this time and be more engaging with our clientele at the same time. It definitely helps to be a handsome, well dressed, well versed, well traveled, multi-talented CEO! Lol..I make products for me and hype that other people think its cool. If you think what I do is cool, we have something in common..oh word? Hit me on twitter! I write all my own tweets! What city are you in? Yea? I'm going to be there next month, let's do lunch! Then when it comes to some of the streetwear brands, no disrespect to any of them because they have all been such an inspiration, but the materials are most often PVC so you are paying such an inflated dollar amount for a bag that's gonna fall apart or is really just for "show" as opposed to actually travelling with the pieces. Plus, you get the same issue of not being able to contact the CEO or someone who means something if you have an issue.
If people have an issue with my app, I troubleshoot the issue. Over 20k apps sold and I'm concerned when I get emails or tweets saying the app isn't working for a user. True indeed I'm busy, and I forget things at times, but I have a great staff that keeps me on top of any and all customer service issues!
What's your biggest challenge?
Gaining relevance without getting that "stamp". Back in the early 2000s, if you got a rapper to give another rapper an endorsement, that was supposed to mean they'd be successful..it stopped meaning anything after awhile though. In my situation, we haven't gotten major press nor a major personality to assist us with getting the word out but yet and still, we are in a very unique position because we have the people, just lacking on the corporate side. So the biggest ordeal is knowing you have something great, but not being able to let the whole world know because you don't have the proper backing, but then even harder, when you see something else get the endorsement you sought and not complaining about feeling slighted. Even still, we take it all in stride.