Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island
Based in Brooklyn, NY and in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign, Burō 5 is looking to expand their clothing line. Launched in August 2013, the Burō 5 collection consists of t-shirts, tanks, and snapbacks inspired by a collaboration of culture, history, genealogy, and heritage, from the five boroughs of NYC. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign they will be introducing a winter line consisting of hoodies and sweatshirts.
We sat down with Burō 5’s John Anastasia to get the inside scoop.
Travis Shevlin: Where is Burō 5 Clothing made?
John Anastasia: Our tees are made in the USA and we do our printing in New Jersey and Los Angeles.
TS: Starting a clothing line must be difficult with all the competition and big players out there, what was your motivation?
JA: A handful of years ago we were in Dallas for a weekend and someone said something, I don’t even remember what it was now, and, right away, my partner Mark said, “Yo, you should put that on a t-shirt.” Right after that we decided we should get into the t-shirt business. Burō 5 actually wasn’t our first choice for a brand name. Originally we came up with “Jealous Tees” and our ideas were real gimmicky, like college humor type sayings and designs, but we thought it was a good idea. We met with Robert Mars, who is our designer now, but at that time was creative director at Zoo York. We had a mutual friend Danny, who’s my 2nd partner. We were looking for some connections and help with printing and sourcing blanks. He was open to meeting and during the conversation we asked him if he wanted to be involved. He turned us down, as he was really busy at work and painting for his gallery. After the meeting, I don’t recall why we started kicking around NY-inspired names, but we eventually came up with Burō 5. I remember when Mark first said it, we were just brainstorming names and he walked over to the fridge to get me another beer and just blurted it out. We both looked at each other and it was like we knew we nailed it! Once we chose the name, the entire direction of the brand shifted to a New York focus. We met with Rob again; to let him know what we were now thinking and this time he LOVED it. We offered him again to be involved and this time he was in! It took us three years, maybe more, before we were ready to sell our first shirt. Granted, we all had full time jobs, but we were so particular with the quality of the shirts, and the quality of the screen-printing. We scrapped an entire production run because we weren’t satisfied with the quality. With there being so many dope brands out there, we didn’t want to come to market until everything was perfect. It wasn’t just the shirts, either. We really put a lot of thought into the product packaging and the hang tags; just different things to try and stand out from the pack.
TS: What do you plan to do with the $10,000 you raise on Kickstarter?
JA: Most of that will go towards the development of the hoodies. As a small company, we do not print the volume that larger companies can and that unfortunately keeps our cost per unit on the high side. We also need to ramp up our marketing activities. The shirts have sold nicely at retail, but we need to drive more traffic to the e-commerce site.
TS: Could you tell us about the Hoodie you will release when you complete a successful crowd funding campaign?
JA: We’ve found the dopest softest lightweight Sherpa zip up hoodies. I love hoodies, must have 20-30 in my closet and back at my mothers house. I know what a good hoodie should feel like and fit like. I’m sure people are going to love the feel and fit we are going to have. The pullovers are also super super soft with a great cut.
TS: What inspires the designs in your collection?
JA: The brand is New York. We draw our inspiration from the city; it has such a rich history. We try not to be cookie cutter though. Our creative director Rob Mars took the photo of the sneaker on the wire, for On a Wire. No Smoking was a composite of two old IRT subway signs. Fear City was an actual pamphlet handed out to tourists in New York City, in the late 70’s. We re-printed the content on the back of the shirt. It’s classic. People forget what Times Square used to be like…hookers and peep shows. 42nd Street jokes were the best when we were kids – “Yo, I saw your mom…where? 42nd Street!” Living in Manhattan and meeting people from all over the country who moved here after college, most have NO IDEA what NYC was like back in the 70’s & 80’s. It’s a different place now. We’ve hooked up with Matt Weber, a photographer for a few collaborations. Matt was a cab driver in the early 80’s who snapped pics while he worked. He’s given us access to his library & we have had a lot of success with his prints. Our creative director Rob is one of our partners, so he handles all of the design work. We’ll sit around and kick around ideas for inspiration, but he’s the talent. He’s an amazing artist in his own right.
TS: How do you get celebrities like Matt Harvey, pitcher of Mets, to rock your gear?
JA: Honestly, Matt Harvey is a friend of a friend, so we had a little help with that one. And we really couldn’t promote that pic the right way. But we have had a few celebrities buy the shirts, like Leonardo DiCaprio and Richard Rawlings from Garage Monkey. They purchased shirts from the Dream Hotel downtown, one of our retail locations. Two totally opposite ends of the spectrum, but that’s what excites us about the brand, New York is timeless, so we don’t necessarily need to design to a trend. I’ll be honest though, some retailers have passed on the brand because it isn’t trend driven, but we have a vision for the brand and we’re going see where it takes us. I also have a few friends who play in the NHL who are really supportive and love our designs so they are always helping us out via social media. It’s hard to just get product to celebrities. I’m very blessed to have a lot of friends in my life that are so supportive and willing to help us out.
TS: In your video, you Graffiti Burō 5 on a Cement Wall, where did you learn such skill?
JA: Being from BK, I’m very comfortable with a Krylon can but a friend of ours hooked that up. I’m good, but he’s DOPE. That was actually done on my junior high school I.S 278 in Marine Park…. I also ended up having to take a trip to the precinct for that one. #WorthIt