The Circus is back in SF

Ready to serve you -- no clowns, though

By Chhavi Nanda

In the remains of what was left of Brooklyn Circus SF, I joined Gabe Garcia, BKC's art director, for an intimate interview in the heart of San Francisco, the Fillmore.  Recently, the SF branch of the awesome men's clothiers was forced to close for a few weeks due to a flood from the apartment building above. The damages caused the joint to pack up for a bit. The circus must go on, though, and Brooklyn Circus SF will be reopening this Fri/23, just like new. Thankfully Gabe, even in his frenzied panic to get the store back up and running,  talked to me about his career, the direction of fashion in San Francisco and New York City, and the industry in general. 

SFBG: Do you feel like your formal education at FIT in NYC helped prepare you for working in the industry?

Gabe Garcia: No, not at all.  FIT taught me the fundamentals of sewing, patternmaking, and things of that sort, but most of all what taught me the most was New York City itself. Living in NYC made me actually discipline myself. I didn’t even really know anyone in the city. I tried to get most out of school that I could, but NYC -- being such a creative place -- prepared me most for the industry.

SFBG: How do you compare fashion and the motivation behind designers in NYC in contrast to San Francisco? What would you like to see in fashion that is lacking in San Francisco, but prominent in NYC?

GG: San Francisco has a more laid-back attitude. Energy in the air is very infectious, so a majority of the people in San Francisco are very casual.  When people dress up to leave their house in the morning here, people are less motivated, which is cool, but peoples' attitudes do transfer to their outfits. In NYC there is more pressure, desire and intrest. Life is about inspiration and how your surroundings inspire you. Each day I am in NYC I am inspired. Right now, what I am most inspired by is old cars. And all antiques in general, furniture, cars, etc.

SFBG: BKC is not only a fashion label, not it is also considered a lifestyle. Being a part of the BKC team means not only do you focus on the design aspect of the company, but also production, sales, finance, advertising, marketing, photography and blogging. Another than design, how else do you contribute to the BKC team?

GG: My position has evolved since I've been with the company. When we started I was standing right by Ouiji (the Brooklyn Circus owner) painting the walls of the store in Brooklyn. I started under Ouigi’s wing. Then I wanted to bring Brooklyn back to San Francisco. I found a way to do what I love while still living close to home. I built a bridge for my career and myself. The first thing we did was scout a perfect location. I am mostly involved with art direction, the creative concept and process, never avoiding the creative process.

SFBG: Can we anticipate any Brooklyn Circus collaborations anytime soon? What is your perspective on collaborations?
GG: Brand and image direction is really important to us right now. I have learned the things that you do wrong are just as impactful, if not more impactful, as the right decision. If you make a decision to go left instead of right, you could take the brand into the wrong direction. We want our brand to be here for the long run. We want to practice the fundaments of these big brands that have been here forever. If we do collaborate it just needs to make sense. It has to be a part of the big picture. Only if it a long term endeavor, we stay. The true importance is to stay with your brand vision. For example Porshe had approached Lacoste with a collaboration idea. Although Porshe is a huge company, Lacoste didn’t jump at that opportunity, because it just wasn’t in the DNA of the company. You see what I mean?  

SFBG: Would you ever consider starting your own label?
I have thought about it. Mostly small capsule collections though, like wallets, hats, neckwear, things like that. I really enjoy working in a team; I like people to bounce my creative ideas of. I like to think of myself as a visionary.