Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on June 10, 2008
Rogan Gregory is hot right now. Not hot like greenhouse gas — quite the opposite actually. He’s Bono-approved, Target-diffused, New York’s own ethical poster boy hot. Hell, even his beard is impressive. With his penchant for transforming organic cotton into edgy attire, denim into danger and making mass market look a million bucks, everyone wants a piece of Rogan Gregory. And not surprisingly Wallpaper magazine got him. Here are the highlights from their interview about the man behind Loomstate, Rogan, Rogan Objects, Rogan for Target and the line that thrust him into the spotlight, Edun.
“Bono and Ali caught wind of what we’d been doing at Loomstate and wanted to do some kind of collaboration,” Gregory recalls. “My partner Scott called me one day and asks, can you meet with Bono tomorrow? I’m like, Bono who? Next day he shows up to our studio and we really hit it off.”
The basis principle of Edun is that it brings trade, not aid to Africa: “They’re not known for their technology in Africa. They have a lot of cotton, they have silk and wool but they’re more of a raw material resource rather than a finished product resource. We’re building capabilities there, trying to source people who already have some experience and elevating what they have.” On the essence of his collaboration with Bono and Ali, “It’s a lot more of the basics and simple stuff that we’re making there at the moment. Not to say that you can’t do more there,” he adds firmly, “But you’re not going to get the best quality. If you’re going to be in a fancy department store next to some fancy brands that are made in Italy, then quality has to be good; the materials and the craftsmanship.”
“Bono and Ali hate when I say that they are my muses to the brand, they don’t like to think of themselves as fashionable people. They give me the autonomy to do what I like,” Gregory says. “Bono is really socially conscious and aware of the plight of people on this planet, but he is also realist. He understands sustainability and that there’s a way to make things work. You have to understand how things work to get it down.”
The child of a family of recyclers, Gregory grew up in the mountains of Colorado and Canada. He admits he fell off the bandwagon once he got to university. “I got really discouraged and decided to become a fashion designer, the antithesis of the environmentalist, but it’s kind of coming together now. This is the way I can do it without totally being discouraged and people are catching on, so it’s not like a totally uphill miserable battle. You’re not all by yourself with a couple of granola bar hippies from San Francisco.”
Gregory’s proudest achievement? “I’m most proud of this whole eco-ethical movement that I like to think I had a hand in. My parents were like, What is fashion going to do for the world? I think they were really disappointed when I decided that my occupation was going to be in clothing, but now they are Oh! Maybe that’s not such a bad idea. So that is satisfying.”
I’m sure fans of Gregory’s fashions are also very satisfied that the designer has merged his dual passions for the environment and fashion to such desirable effect. Not bad for a bearded bloke.