CAVI is an urban clothing brand best known for its custom military inspired shirts.
You've seen them on everyone from Fabolous to T.I., Akon, Jay-Z and many others. The line was founded by three young men who previously had no experience in the fashion industry - Phil Gapud (Head Designer & Director of Marketing), Nathan Krivosheyev (Director of Production) and Danny Victor (Director of Sales and Operations).
CAVI's Phil Gapud and Danny Victor, pictured at their showroom last week
Kiki got a chance to catch up with Phil and find out how he went from the music industry into fashion, how CAVI so quickly gained such famous fans, where the military inspiration came from and much more. We also went by the brand's showroom to preview their spring 2010 collection and copped some exclusive pics - check it out:
DrJays.com: You were first an intern at Motown/Universal Records. Were you originally anticipating a career in the music industry?
Phil: "I did get a Bachelor's degree in business management/music business. I was always into fashion, and by wearing my novelty military shirts, I broke onto the music scene, placing product on every known artist".
DrJays.com: Although your latest collections encompass many different looks, CAVI is known as the originator of the custom military inspired shirt. Where did this interest in military fashion come from?
Phil: "I have family that was in the military but it actually didn't influence my fashion sense with CAVI. "The military look was always tough and rugged to me. By adding medal insignia, patches and different colorways, I took it to another level. And by adding a personalized name tape for celebrities, it made them feel exclusive, making CAVI the go-to brand for that military look".
CAVI's spring 2010 is clean, with a focus on great details
DrJays.com: It seemed you guys had some great product placement right off the bat, with your shirts spotted on the backs of huge names like Jay-Z and Fabolous. How did such popular fans come about so quickly?
Phil: "You can't deny good product. CAVI is defined as 'Product of Great Taste'. Also, with my music background, I had developed so many relationships and it was a no-brainer to get CAVI placed on many artists. "Hip hop artists have a major influence on setting trends. With CAVI, all major artists supported the brand because the product was, and still is, HOT.
Akon in CAVI
CAVI is here to stay and never was just a trend. In 2004 we put the stamp on military fashion, and going into 2010, we're making plans to dominate contemporary fashion."
DrJays.com: We always noticed Fabolous representing especially hard for CAVI. Does he have any sort of involvement with the brand?
Phil: "Fab has been a great supporter of CAVI since day one. We appreciate his love for our brand. He really understands how CAVI should be worn.
"Fab's clothing line, Rich Yung, did a collaboration military shirt/tee box set with CAVI last year that went really well. Other than that, we are basically supporters of each other.
"CAVI has never been a celebrity driven live. We pride in ourselves on pushing great product and the people who support our movement".
DrJays.com: Describe a typical day as the Head Designer/Director of Marketing of CAVI.
Phil: "First thing I usually do is check my emails and check out what's going on online as far and fashion and entertainment blogs. Definitely need to be in the know of things and understand the climate in this business. My team is constantly looking for unique ways to market CAVI. Grassroots marketing has always been an effective way to connect our customers to our brand. "My partner, Danny Victor, and I critique our design team's work, making sure our future designs are precise and on point. And of course during the course of the day we have numerous meetings from sales to design to marketing. Very long days are common while learning and developing this business".
DrJays.com: What is your favorite CAVI piece in the upcoming collection?
Phil: "In the spring 2010 collection, my favorite piece has to be the 'Yacht Jacket. It's available in three colorways and has built in wires so you can style the jacket the way you want to. It's a very comfortable and fashionable piece so go check for it!"
DrJays.com: Fashion in 2010 - what do you foresee becoming popular in terms of trends?
Phil: "One thing I learned recently as far as upcoming trends - everyone is growing up. Guys want to feel and look grown and mature in what they wear".
DrJays.com: If you had to give our aspiring clothing designers three tips for success in this business, what would they be?
Phil: 1. Be persistent 2. Believe in your product 3. Don't give up. Follow your dreams, or else you'll be working for someone else who did.
DrJays.com: Any interesting news or collaborations coming up in the near future?
Phil: "In spring 2010, our CAVI womens line will debut. Also look out for CAVI's boxing champ Yuri Foreman, as well as Nascar driver Chase Austin, sporting CAVI in the ring and racetrack near you! "For more CAVI news, check out our blog www.CAVIDreams.com and follow us on twitter: www.twitter.com/cavinyc."
Check out the latest CAVI gear on DrJays.com by clicking HERE.