LexusFresh Perspectives project consists of six artists create works in 24 hours based on the themes of Challenge, Empower, and Escape. Now it’s time to take a closer look at each artist and get a feel for their art forms, inspiration and technique. Design Milk is one of the five exclusive ambassadors of this exciting project brought to you by the edgy new Lexus CT Hybrid.

I caught up with Robert James, menswear designer, who has a shop located in New York City. You can check him out on Facebook and Twitter.

What made you interested in sewing and fashion?

I took a job at a great men’s shop while in Engineering school, and quickly found my passion for form. Soon after I began to put my love of design and construction to work making garments and a line of screen tees for sale. Learning to sew was a fun experience. Once I decided to attend F.I.T. I needed to make garments to secure my entry. I began to driving home early every Saturday morning to from Columbus, OH to Troy, OH about 70 miles away. Mom and I would sew for a hours. Then I would leave just in time to make it back to Columbus to meet my friends out.

When did you first launch your collection, and how has your line grown since?

I left my last corporate job January 4, 2008. I knew there was no going back. I called my soon to be wife ML and said “It’s time to open the shop.” Many years earlier while hawking my tees at a local Rave or Festival or what ever it was, I decided that I would open my own brand and shop when I was 35. I just so happens that I would turn 35 on July 18th 2008. The year had arrived and I set out to tackle my dream. I got busy writing my business plan and getting the line together and sent the idea to my brother Glenn to see if he might help me out. With some legwork, I had a solid plan that my brother agree to fund the project for part ownership. We we off and running. Next I recruited ML to help with PR, Marketing and Operations. It took us eight months, but we opened our first boutique September 7, 2008. It was a Friday evening and we had laid the new wood flooring and painted the walls. I wheeled a few rolling racks in place, dressed the forms in the window, cranked the music and opened my door. It would be a few weeks till my first collection would arrive, but I sold what was left over from the shop before and some tees I had been hauling with me over the years of making sell tees. Things have changed a lot since those days. I look across the shop now and see five or six bodies whirling about preparing to open our second shop in John Allan’s the famed men grooming expert Tribeca salon. I also think of all the new people I gotten to serve and hope to be able to continue to serve in the future. The collection itself has grown by leaps and bonds as I rush to say what I have to say, work to learn more and improve my process and the shapes and fabrication of the garments. To say we have come a long way is understatement, but I believe the strides we have made in these first three years will look like child’s play when we look back three years from now.

Describe your brand in three words.


Have you ever considered doing a woman’s line?

No, if I were to come across a talent that would compliment mine in the future I might consider it, but for now my passion is menswear and making “Simple, Honest, Handsome” clothing for men.

What are you working on right now?

We are working on opening shop #2 and and getting all the logistics worked out to prepare for expansion. Just to keep things fun though I am working on what will be in the shop in Fall 2011. That and getting ready for my wedding on 11.11.11.

How did you get involved with Fresh Perspectives?

One of the crew members Arron had bought a coat from me and when presented with the project he put my name forth. From there I handed off the invitation to ML who — among other things — kills it as my Director Marketing and PR and rest as they say is history.

What was the most challenging part of creating a piece of work in 24 hours?

I guess that you don’t have a lot of time to edit yourself. It’s fun though you just keep your head down and do what you know how to do best and stay true to your school.

If you could collaborate with one of the other Fresh Perspectives artists, who would it be and why?

I would choose to with “V” the singer I love her music and it would be fun to host an event that she performed at. I would be equally as excited to shoot some frames with Tod Seelie or collaborate on a screenprint with Augustine Kofie, the painter.

Photos by Timothy Young.

Here’s a sneak peek of Robert’s work for Fresh Perspectives:

(click here if you can’t see the video)

(click here if you can’t see the video)

Next week, we’ll reveal what all the artists have created so stay tuned!

Design Milk has partnered with Lexus on Fresh Perspectives, a series that highlights work by six artists from different disciplines. Each artist created two pieces of art based on three themes — Challenge, Empower, and Escape — and each piece was made within 24 hours. Thanks to Lexus, this project not only supports art but also helps support Design Milk’s efforts to promote emerging artists.