Our 1st Interview ever for Orlando Fashion Magazine!

Designer Watch: Rising Shirt Designer Rhorie Drey Increases Brand Awareness by Bucking Convential Wisdom

Written by: Mellissa Thomas for Orlando Fashion Magazine

“We cater to those who set trends, not follow them.” – Rhorie Drey

Rhorie Drey took the “chase your dream” maxim quite seriously. He started drawing at the age of three and hasn’t stopped since.

The Montclair, New Jersey native bulldozed through any doubts about his dream job, teaching himself clothing design once he developed an interest in clothing in 1996. He got his hands on Adobe Creative Suite, Corel Draw, good ol’ pencil and paper, and went right to work, drawing inspiration for his youthful yet edgy Rhorie Drey Brand clothing line from music, movies, and prominent designers of that day, including Karl Kani and Fubu.

Why His Own Name as the Brand Name?

Drey explained that his name was the most espousing fit for the brand.

He said he’d come up with several other names, but none of them stuck. He felt more closely bonded to his name, and founded the clothing line on three key principles: “Strength, Leadership & Focus.”

“I feel this clothing line is an extension of me and represents me,” he said. “I can stand behind it wholeheartedly.”

Drey’s website states his clothing line is aimed at “free thinkers” and “non-conformists,” and he lives that mission himself.

How He’s Bucking the Status Quo

He’s not on the Facebook bandwagon. Drey spread himself across a slew of social media outlets: Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, YouTube, and Vimeo; but when DOFW asked him why he chose not to have a Facebook fan page, he said, “I attempted that before, and I was getting a response [in terms of] likes, but I feel that the Facebook [approach] is overdone.” He explained that he’s looking to the next greater tool now.

Don’t look for him on Instagram, either. He revealed that Tumblr fulfills the same needs for him that Instagram would in a much more user-friendly way.

In 2012, he aimed for recording artists. He sponsored the famous New York deejay DJ Blazita’s “R&B Summer Jams Vol. 5″ mixtape, which was distributed digitally and physically. The venture also involved her modeling his clothing and plugging his clothing brand throughout the mixtape.

He also sponsored an EP listening session with emerging New Jersey Hip Hop artist Rav.P, who also wore a hoodie from Drey’s line in his music video.

He’s not settling for a fixed brand logo. He’d initially donned a crest (which you can still find in his Men’s t-shirt line), but felt the logo was cliché and has chosen to be fluid with his brand identity, aiming to meet his young customers’ unique taste with custom shirt styles and fonts to suit them. He expressed that he’s “revamping [his] brand right now.”

He prints domestically. In the current age of overseas clothing manufacturing for pennies on the dollar in the name of careless high profits, Drey opts to print his shirts in the U.S., and it shows. His clothing definitely markets to those with slightly deeper pockets to help support printmakers here.

(Hey, they need to eat, too.)

Looking to the Future

Drey’s current plan is to improve on his current designs and develop new ones, and position himself at 2014 tradeshows. He even plans to set up a pop-up shop, which will provide the benefits of a temporary brick-and-mortar location without the backbreaking overhead of having a full-time store.
In the meantime, if you’re a high school senior or college-aged, check out the Rhorie Drey Brand website and buy a shirt or underwear (yes, underwear!) for yourself or a friend at http://www.rhoriedrey.net.

Dated: 8/9/2013

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