Regan Smith Clarke Talk About Their Summer Release & Give Some Advice

What is the inspiration behind RSC’s summer collection?

After RSC’s last major release, I decided that I wanted to take my designs in a different direction – one that focused on specific themes and time frames in history. I felt it would allow me greater flexibility with my ideas while still being able to maintain a sense of brand cohesiveness.

For RSC’s 2011 summer collection, my designs drew heavily from 1920s-era prohibition – a time in United States history that has always fascinated me.  It also helped that the period is overflowing with imagery and themes that mesh perfectly with the vintage-inspired style RSC is known for.

Can you walk us through the story behind each design?

Speakeasy” is based upon the popular, but highly illegal establishments that sprung up during Prohibition. Bartenders were charged with making sure patrons would “speak easy” so not to raise suspicion when ordering alcohol.

Repeal” is based upon the eighteenth amendment which prohibited alcohol. Much of the imagery that inspired the collection contained various pleas to repeal the controversial order.

Barrel” represents an element common in the 1920s. The “Barrel” is an overall symbol for Prohibition and the fast-and-loose lifestyle of the Roaring Twenties.

Symbols” visually defines three major elements of the era:

1. “The Speakeasy Grill”: Illegal establishments often placed metal plates or grills on doors for added protection. This symbol contains the “R” in RSC.

2. “The Wooden Barrel”: An overall symbol for Prohibition and the fast-and-loose lifestyle of the Roaring Twenties. This symbol contains the “S” in RSC.

3. “The Eye”: Speakeasies  were forbidden by law so “The Eye” reminded patrons to not raise suspicion.  This symbol contains the “C” in RSC.

Your earlier releases featured lots of bold colors. Was that departure with the summer collection a conscious decision?

It definitely was a conscious decision. If you examine the progression of each release, you’ll see a decline in the amount of colors I employ in my designs. I certainly don’t dislike bold colors, but I do feel there is a certain level of stigma associated with them. Often, I feel they convey a lack of substance – sometimes, it’s just too easy to get lost in lights.

This is not to say that I will never use bold colors again – but when speaking of the summer collection, I was more focused on choosing the most creative and cohesive designs.

I notice you experimented with some different cuts and blends with this release. Can you tell us a little about that?

For our summer collection, RSC stuck with American Apparel. Although we may be switching things up in the future, the company offered exactly what we were looking for with this release.

The centerpiece of the collection, “Speakeasy,” is printed on 100 percent cotton crew and v-necks. It’s also available in a tri-blend tank and 50/50 (cotton and polyester).  “Repeal” is available in a tri-blend tank and cotton crewneck. “Barrel” is available exclusively on tri-blend tank. “Symbols” is available on tote bags and other various items.

The story? Well, it’s summer. I wanted comfortable apparel that allowed breathing room while still offering classic fits.

Tell us more about the men behind RSC?

RSC is comprised of me Regan Smith Clarke and Nicholas G. Porter. I handle design, vendor relations and day-to-day operations. Nicholas takes care of marketing, media relations and some behind-the-scenes action that helps make sure the ship runs smoothly.

We’ve been best friends since middle school and have collaborated (i.e. hustled) on almost every project we’ve been involved in over the past 10 years. I was talking to Nicholas about this the other day and I think the major reason why we work together so well is because we both have very distinct roles that rarely overlap – where one of us lacks expertise, the other always has it.  It’s a good match.

RSC is a big proponent of social media. You guys host events pretty often in your hometown of Boston. What’s the story on that and can you share some tips on how others can make live events so successful?

Like many independent artists, we rely on social media to make sure our message is heard. Although Boston is a hotbed for music, art and design, there was a real lack of any type of official gatherings where like-minded people could meet and share ideas.  We wanted to fix that.

Over the last year, RSC has organized a series of live meet-ups throughout the City of Boston. They’ve been a huge success and they’ve helped us forge several personal and professional relationships.

Here are some tips to help ensure your event is successful:

  1. Establish the premise of your event
  2. Know your audience and target members appropriately
  3. Drum up support for the event from industry influencers
  4. Don’t get wasted
  5. Always act professional and remember to ask for business cards
  6. Snap plenty of photos for sharing/blogging at a later date
  7. Engage as many of your attendees as possible
  8. Don’t get wasted
  9. No, really – don’t get wasted

I’ve read in the past RSC is obsessed with Juggalos. What’s the story on that?

Are you down with the clown? Juggalos might be the greatest thing to happen to comedy since Richard Pryor. Have you heard about the Gathering of the Juggalos? It’s like a Juggalo Woodstock. I think we need to get the president on the horn and have him send a team of executive sociologists to this thing.

I had a chance to catch up with the mighty Rob Dobi of Full Bleed at Renegade Brooklyn last month and he told me that of all the hate mail he receives from, the most comes from angry Juggalos.

In the words of Porky Pig: “That’s all folks!”

What are RSC’s plans for the rest of 2011?

We have plans to release several limited edition reprints – including our very popular “Russian Doll” design – and various other products this summer.

RSC will be attending Renegade San Francisco and Chicago, the Boston Arts Festival and some installments of Boston’s South End Open Market (SoWA). We’ll also be organizing more social media events and expanding their scope to other cities.

I’ve also begun working on the 2011 fall/winter line. It’s shaping up to be our biggest and most diverse release yet.