Evening blue bloods
Welcome to the 10@10. It’s Monday so it’s ‘Brand’ day and this week we chat to Charles Miller of the Charles Miller Denim Brand aka @cmbdenim.
Founded around 7 years ago, Charles has been building his brand one stitch at a time. An avid traveller, Charles takes the knowledge from his adventures and layers it into his product by way of establishing a personality within his denim. He also does loads of exercise so fair play Charles…healthy body, healthy mind, healthy product.
MEET THE BRAND BEHIND THE MENSWEAR
NAME: Charles Miller
BRAND NAME: Charles Miller Brand Denim (CMBD)
LOCATION: Washington Metro Area (Washington, DC, Virginia, Maryland)
SIZE OF TEAM: 6 (this includes photographers, brand ambassadors, marketing and logistics specialist, 1 seamstress, and my wife/business parter, Tara.
SPECIALITY/COMPANY FOCUS: American made denim and denim inspired products
1. Straight forward, please tell us, how did your company Charles Miller Brand Denim start out? (For people that don’t already know)
The creation of CMBD started when I was a college student selling t-shirts out of the trunk of my car. Prior to the start of Denim finding a pair that fit just right was becoming more difficult. That’s when I decided to birth CMBD in 2010. Had a crash course in denim after attending trade shows and travelling to Morocco and exploring the denim industry in Los Angeles, CA. I created samples and 5 samples and 5 years later; we had the product to go into production. The journey began and 2015 with the launch. 3 years later, we are still collecting feedback from clients, adjusting our approach and creating the best denim fits, styles, and denim inspired products for your journey all while travelling.
2. Tell us. What does a day in the life of yourself look like? What’s your daily work routine?
I wake up early to get my mind clear and focus. I exercise and get my schedule planned for the day (emails, meetings, edit photos, answer Instagram post or comments). I find that it is more productive to get at it early when everyone is sleep. I prefer to have a full schedule during the first half of the day. I’ll visit a local shop, get some coffee, spend some time around a few local creatives, take some pictures, post on Instagram, and explore. I’ll promote the locations on social media that are carrying CMBD and the rest of the morning is following up on correspondence or plans from early in the morning or new opportunities that come up.
The afternoon will be time for current/future projects whether it is expanding the brand to a different market or building relationships with other denim enthusiast or planning the next popup. I am always planning ahead for the different trends and researching the best fabrics to use of course while monitoring the brand ambassadors who are live in their denim like me. I’m actually drinking coffee as we speak.
3. What are your top 3 bestselling items? And why do you think this is?
Our G1 Dry Denim jacket. This denim jacket is a Type 1 14oz cone denim jacket that was done in collaboration with Fred&Co 1745 for the Fall 17-18.
The other best selling item is our original Professional and Traveler style dry denim. These fits are 12..5-14oz Cone selvedge denim. These are the top selling items because they are raw. We promote creating your history with your denim products and the best way to do that is to start raw; all of our items are raw. Our clients have embraced that mentality and now live in their denim during all of their works and have developed all individually unique characteristics of their denim products.
This is what drives our sales when we see the best selling items at work. This tells us that our quality holds up in any profession or lifestyle and that our fit can be tailored to a variety of body shapes and styles both before and most importantly, after the break-in process. It also tells us that people enjoy the denim journey. You can get washed/faded/distressed denim anywhere. You can also get raw denim anywhere, but when there is a journey or destination in mind for that specific denim, there is a separation between the where you CMBD travels with you and the other denim that stays in your closet. We just launched a cap sleeve crew neck sweatshirt and we are promoting that same journey; we want the wearer to break it in and wear it to the ground; that’s what our products are made for. Our denim and denim inspired products are crafted to age well and hold up.
4. What’s your personal favourite garment when it comes to the items you manufacture?
Personal favourite would be the Traveler. This is where the core of the brand started; with the travelling professional. Our denim is tailored to those who are dedicated members in their community, businessmen and women, creatives and influences. The Traveler is the most flexible and universal item for me because I have worn it with just about everything. It’s build is attractive because it proves to show the journey first and beautifully captures the history of travels. It is crafted for athletic builds, but tailored for slim builds because of the extra room in the thighs. I’m wearing my Traveler’s now and I just soaked them for the 3rd time in 3 years. This last soak was in the black volcanic sand of Coco beach in Costa Rica.
5. What are your thoughts on the rise of Instagram fashion and the chaps that post their clothing on there to help spread the word of their fave brands?
With the progression of social media I think it is only growth that allows the platform to be built upon. Showing your personal interests and spreading the word via Instagram or other social media platforms is the same as word of mouth that we used 10 years ago, just now it’s more in picture form. On the other hand, pictures and “likes” are only one aspect of growth and exposure, you need real people who believe in and support the brand. These are the ones who purchase your product and because they love it, they share it. They share the stories, they share their outfits and most importantly, they share their feedback not only on social media but also denim forums or blogs. There are a lot of brands or businesses that also have blogs or websites that they pull traffic to through Instagram such as this interview. Ibelieve the first step is to be known and develop that personal relationship with the brand and or its owners or workers who actually make, live, and love the product they promote. We are not selling you a product here; we are teaching you an experience and selling you a journey. Selling the journey and teaching the experience is what I believe is missing in a lot of Instagram fashion. The pictures in a set form are great. The pictures in raw form, in movement, in the work, in the city, in mid conversation, candid images are the ones that sell the most. These images say 1000 more words that the text associated with the image and comments drive the impact, not “likes”
6. Has it made an impact on your business at all, do you think?
Absolutely. It allows those who have a passion and love for fashion to explore their options using hashtags, which takes them to their desired product quicker. A combination of hashtags and page tags shows support and endorsement of those brands being shared. Without Instagram and the unique ability to share, experience, contact and conversation with other individuals and businesses is a huge platform that otherwise would have taken more money and travel to obtain. We purchased a booth at a trade show back in 2014 while we were finalizing fits for the brand and we were recognized as the best new denim brand among some industry leaders such as Jean Shop and J Brand. We were not nearly as ready for retail as they were and had been at the time. We spent over $8,000 to be there and in hindsight, the impact was not nearly close to the impact we have been able to achieve through social media such as Instagram at a must lower cost of money and time. I appreciate the use of Instagram and it allows us to now pinpoint just exactly where we need to put our focus on and when. If need be, we can then determine if it is feasible to make a trip, expand to a different region or country, do popups or build from just the United States.
7. Is there any feeds on IG that you particularly like to check-in on regular. What brands are you fond of on there? What menswear feeds do you like to peruse?
In no particular order, I like to visit what #rawdenim has to offer and I find a lot on inspiring men’s shops and creative individual denim lovers. Its super exciting to see all of the wears, fades, and outfits during travel on that hashtag. I also enjoy the conversation about brand.
I like to visit pages such as @thebkcircus, @denimdues, @swissjeansfreak, @railcarfinegoods, @taylorofrailcar, @selvedge1, @raw.denim, and @robindenim just to name a few. I like what GStar raw, Nudie and Railcar do regarding their marketing, story, and their presence in the denim industry. When one can see the growth and process of a brand, it speaks volumes of personally connecting to the brand. I like to see what all the trade shows are doing as well to showcase a platform for denim and denim inspired products. It is interesting to see what all can be done with the beauty of denim fabric. I find inspiration in all brands that care about their products and build relationships with their followers and clients.
8. A quick one about you. Other than the business, what passions do you have in life? What flicks your switch and helps you relax?
I love to exercise doing circuit training and running. It allows me to not only stay fit, but to download and clear my mind. I build energy, stay healthy and get creative just from exercising. I also enjoy travelling to new places with my wife and daughter. We are all travelling professionals in our own way and we enjoy the journey of exploring new coffee shops, restaurants, architecture, and adventurous opportunities. We like to position our daughter around things outside of her classroom. I enjoy photography and capturing the moment in time of someone; again, a picture shows more words that a text or comment can say on social media or any other platform. I keep a camera with me at all times. Ultimately, I like to meet new people and explore new communities and have thought provoking conversation. Travelling is not only a part of our brand; we live it in our denim.
9. What do you consider to be the best thing about your business and why?
The ability for the brand to grow from its raw state. This not only gives the challenge to appreciate great quality denim, but it also presents a chance to have a history or story with your denim and it’s a conversation starter with other exploring minds. In the beginning we wanted a denim brand that could evolve with you and your lifestyle, wherever that is and whatever it is doing. When you purchase a product from us, you started a new journey in life and you will never look at denim the same.
10. And Lucky Last, You’re going to be stranded on a desert island and you can take 1 outfit (4 items) only with you. And 1 choice of drink.
My 3-year-old CMBD Travellers, plain white T-Shirt, navy blue converse sneakers and my Fred&Co 1745 cap. And 1 choice of drink. Voss Water
This is my go-to outfit and the clothing alone is the inspiration behind birthing the brand back in 2010. It will forever be a part of who we are and the story we are continuously writing.
Thank you very Much Charles, tip-top chat brother. It’s great to have you as part of
the 10@10. Keep at the grind brother, great things happen to great people!
Anyways, we will be back on Thursday as we talk to my buddy Shane aka @beerindigo.
Have a top week people!
Stay close, much love.