How To Make It In America: Insiders Weigh In!
HBO’s How To Make It In America has spurred debate since its debut episode and as the show’s first season finale draws near, talk within street fashion’s real inner circle has hit fever pitch.
The show follows two enterprising twentysomethings, Ben Epstein (played by Bryan Greenberg) and Cam Calderon (Victor Rasuk) as they hustle their way through New York City, determined to achieve their version of the “American Dream” by creating a premium denim line.
On the eve of the show’s finale this Sunday, we asked a group of industry insiders if they believed Ben and Cam’s story is an accurate depiction of the process of creating a successful fashion brand in New York. Check their responses below.
“Hells yeah! Its about as accurate as any show has been, to this point. Some of the themes and situations that we’ve seen on the show, we’ve gone through here at FLuD (www.fludwatches.com) and at OCD (www.ocdnyc.com). In regards to OCD, the overall theme of the show is really similar to what my business partner Martin and I have gone (and are going) through—even down to our first accounts being from Tokyo when no one Stateside showed us any love.
“I’m not sure if Cam and Ben are gonna ‘Make It In America’ but I’m pretty sure FLuD and OCD are gonna be alright. I think if you’ve lived through building a brand from the basement on up, you can really appreciate what Cam and Ben are going through.”
Brand Director, FLuD Watches/Operations Director, Obsessively Chasing Dollars (OCD)
“The show is name-drop central but I’m waiting to see my man Javier Nunez (real-life skater who plays Wilfredo Gomez) get his shine! That’s the only thing I like about the show.
“Starting a brand is a big hustle. I worked for a financial firm and put in 55 hours a week, while doing Mighty Healthy, as well. At times I was sleeping three hours a night. I had to learn on my own how to make tees. My lady at the time hated my guts! It also gets very tough financially. I didn’t come from money like some people. I worked three-and-a-half years straight with two demanding full-time jobs. I think the show may show the fun part of it, but not the day-to-day grind.”
Co-Founder, Mighty Healthy
“I have to admit, I hated the show for the first few episodes, but I do feel the plot and storyline have gotten better. The older characters (played by Luis Guzman and Martha Plimpton) definitely steal the show.
“I don’t feel the storyline is realistic within our street-fashion industry. Why? First off—a cool label named Crisp? A line based around one item? A Japanese buyer purchasing t-shirts instead of the denim and placing a PO on the spot? Come on…that doesn’t happen. Not in this economy. Not to mention, throwing Kid Cudi in for street credibility and then giving him barely any lines. Anyway, enough ranting—I give it a thumbs down, but I do enjoy catching and naming the downtown landmarks, haha.”
Co-Owner, COA Boutique/Agency
“I think the show could be accurate. I know quite a few designers who’ve started brands but generally designers/owners are more artistic, reclusive and much more driven and focused [than Ben and Cam]. I love the show but as a founder/creative director, I do not think Ben nor Cam fill the shoes.”
East Coast Sales, LRG
“The answer to your question is yes, I think it is accurate. I started a denim sportswear brand four years ago at the same time I was building my sales agency. We were doing domestic denim production. We went through some similar situations that they went through. Our denim didn’t fall off a truck, but we did have to buy our denim in rolls and then we had to go get a pattern maker to make our first samples. From having the wealthy Jewish friend to invest, to the vintage t-shirt depot, to all the hustles, I think it is, for the most part, realistic. I think they have some ‘lucky’ chance meetings, but those meetings are all possible in New York.”
Co-Founder, The Foundation Showroom (G-Shock, Supra, etc)
If you’re into fashion and you’ve been following the show, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject!
How To Make It In America‘s season finale airs 10pm this Sunday on HBO.