Raif Adelberg is unconventional, to say the least. After leaving school at a young age, he paved his own way to success and dismissed the cookie cutter approach. Result: a creative resume that most designers would fucking love. Armed with over a decade of experience at Stussy, and a helping hand in the early days of Herschel, his androgynous label Herman Market is now championed by celebs like Kendall Jenner and fawned over by everyone from hypebeasts to celebrities. Nowadays, he’s the kind of guy who has fashion’s most notorious publicist and all-round badass, Kelly Cutrone, on speed dial. Safe to say, Adelberg’s a force to be reckoned with—which we found out when we interviewed him and he put demands on how we published it. Enjoy this doozy.

Raif, how would you explain what you do to someone living under a rock?

I TRY TO INSPIRE TO BE INSPIRED AS A CREATIVE…STAYING AUTHENTIC.

What was your first job after leaving school?

WORKING AT A WINDSURFING SHOP IN THE SKATE DEPARTMENT, SETTING UP SKATEBOARDS.

Coming from a fashion and art background, what were the most important things you learned from your parents?

DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY OR WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHERS MAY SAY… I ALSO LEARNED A LOT OF WHAT NOT TO DO AS WELL.

Stussy is a mammoth streetwear brand which dips into skate culture, much like Herman Market. How did you apply your experience at Stussy to Herman, and how can brands successfully exist on the outskirts of skateboarding culture and its notorious bullshit detector towards brands?

AUTHENTICITY WILL ALWAYS SHINE AND I THINK PEOPLE CAN SEE THROUGH THE FAKENESS OF BRANDS THAT AREN’T AUTHENTIC…LIFE , FAMILY , STYLE.

What’s Herman Market all about and how come one of the most significant figures in pop culture, Kendall Jenner, is wearing it?

HERMAN ( HER – MAN ) IS ABOUT AUTHENTICITY TO CREATE PIECES LIKE WORDS THAT HELP TO CREATE YOUR COVER TO YOUR STORY. I DESCRIBE THE BRAND AS INFLUENCES THROUGHOUT MY LIFE…

KENDALL WAS WEARING THE JACKET BECAUSE IT WAS IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME…HYPE WILLIAMS AND STYLIST LYSA COOPER, THAT’S WHY.

SURF – THE FLUIDITY OF THE BRAND

PUNK – THE ATTITUDE OF THE BRAND

SKATE – THE STYLE OF THE BRAND

ROCK – THE PRESENCE OF THE BRAND

Which advantages and disadvantages does someone like that bring to the brand?

THERE ARE NO DISADVANTAGES.

What can we expect from the upcoming collection?

THE EVOLUTION …

SURF – THE FLUIDITY OF THE BRAND

PUNK – THE ATTITUDE OF THE BRAND

SKATE – THE STYLE OF THE BRAND

ROCK – THE PRESENCE OF THE BRAND

What does mash up culture mean to you as a person and designer? If you were to exhibit your personality in a collage, how much space would you need?

POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS, AS WELL AS SPACE.

What does that tattoo on your neck say?

THE LIGHTNESS OF BEING…SHE WOKE IN WHITE OF SOUND THAT CRADLED HER LIKE SPUN SILK AND ALL I HAVE ARE MY DREAMS.

You were involved in the early days of Herschel Supply Co., now a household name. What was your involvement and did you ever think it would blow like it has? What are some of the ingredients that made Herschel so successful?

YES , QUICK HI- LEVEL …I WAS REALLY ATTRACTED TO THE IDEA AND I WAS BROUGHT ON TO HERSCHEL BY LYNDON AND JAMIE IN 2009. I WAS BROUGHT ON TO DESIGN , PRODUCE , CONCEPTUALIZE AND MARKET – TO BUILD IT INTO A LIFESTYLE BRAND INSTEAD OF JUST AN ACTION SPORTS ACCESSORY BRAND, WHICH THEY WERE ONLY FOCUSED ON.  WHEN I CAME ON TO HELP WITH SALES I MADE THE INTRO BETWEEN LYNDON AND EDDIE CRUZ – WHICH LED TO THE FIRST COLLABORATION WITH STUSSY AND THE SHOP ON LA BREA. I ALSO WENT TO VEGAS WITH JAMIE TO MAKE INTRODUCTIONS WITH MY JAPANESE CUSTOMERS THAT I HAD DEALT WITH WHEN I HAD RICHARD KIDD.

HERSCHEL HAD A LOT TO DO WITH TIMING. IT WAS THE PERFECT STORM. CREATIVE … BUSINESS … AND A HOLE IN THE MARKET THAT WAS HUNGRY TO BE FILLED.

You’ve lived in Hawaii and Los Angeles, but are a B.C native. What’s the biggest difference between the Canadian and U.S fashion market?

I WAS BORN IN WINNIPEG BUT HAVE LIVED IN VANCOUVER OFF AND ON SINCE I WAS 7 YEARS OLD. THE U.S. MARKET JUST SIMPLY HAS A BIGGER POPULATION WHICH MAKES FOR A BIT MORE PROGRESSIVE, NOT SO CONSERVATIVE FASHION SCENE AND MORE RESOURCES – ALONG WITH A STRONGER DOLLAR – BUT THE CANADIAN MARKET IS JUST AS STRONG IF YOU LOOK AT PERCENTAGES.

You’ve known Chip Wilson (founder of Lululemon) since you were 13 years old. Was there some sort of entrepreneur’s clubhouse you were both members of?!

CHIP HAD A SHOP WHEN I WAS A KID ON 4TH, DOWN THE STREET FROM THE WINDSURFING STORE I WORKED AT. HIS SHOP WAS IN THIS LITTLE OLD HOUSE AND WE WOULD GO AND WATCH SKATE CONTEST VIDEOS LIKE UPLANDS OR BONES BRIGADE. IT WAS JUST A COOL LITTLE SHOP THAT WAS LIKE HOME.

What was the inspiration behind the ‘Fuck I Love You’ series?

I ORIGINALLY MADE A 6FT X 4FT PAINTING TO GO ABOVE MY BED IN 1998. THEN WHEN I STARTED PUTTING IT ON THE WALLS AT MY ART EXHIBITIONS IT WAS LIKE PUTTING SANTA CLAUS IN THE ROOM …PEOPLE WERE TAKING PHOTOS IN FRONT OF IT AND IT JUST TOOK ON A LIFE AND A BRAND OF ITS OWN IN 2000.

On that note, fuck, what do you love most about the street wear industry?

THE YOUTH, CREATIVITY.

You’ve done it all: owned your own restaurant, successful retail store (Richard Kidd), magazine, art series and clothing labels. What does being a creative truly mean to you?

EXACTLY THAT: BEING CREATIVE … FROM VISION TO REALITY …INSPIRE TO BE INSPIRED.

What is your work history with Kelly Cutrone?

FRIEND, PR AND MARKETING…KELLY WAS A MENTOR, A FRIEND AND A POWERFUL BUSINESS WOMAN. SHE UNDERSTOOD ME AND MY VISION.

At fifty years old, you have a ton of experience in the field. Many people do not get to your position, what with the fickle nature of fashion. Any words of wisdom on your part?

STAY TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE …. PEOPLE WILL GIVE YOU THEIR OPINION WHETHER GOOD OR BAD… REMEMBER IT IS ONLY AN OPINION AND ALL ARE ENTITLED. DO WHAT’S IN YOUR HEART AND IN YOUR HEAD. IF YOU CAN SEE IT YOU CAN MAKE IT.

Wanna make a mixtape for us?

OF COURSE. (Here it is).

Interview: Avneet Takhar

Photography: Trevor Fleming

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