When did you know you wanted to become a designer?
I always knew that luxury and street fashion could coexist. As a teenager, I would constantly be showered with urban flattery. Sayings like “I love your style” or “cool getup” were a regular occurrence. When the opportunity presented itself, I knew I had to act on it.
What is your earliest design memory for your brand?
At a Broadway show, I saw an elderly man wearing comfortable sneakers with his tuxedo. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be cool to make a “dress sneaker?” It's roughly 3 years later and here we are.
What made you want to design men’s high-fashion footwear and accessories?
On the night of my wedding, I customized luxury footwear for all my groomsmen. It was supposed to be a cute gesture. Little did we know it would start a full #freegernie movement. I am happy it did.
"The feeling of watching a raw drawing turn into a bestseller is angelic to me."
Where do you find inspiration?
Walking the diverse streets of New York. You see all types of people. All types of fashion. All types of personality. As a designer, my goal is to design styles that suit everybody. Gernie NYC thrives on that diversity.
What is your favorite part about designing?
Artists love to sing. Writers love to write. Designers love to design. Not because we need to, but rather because we must. The feeling of watching a raw drawing turn into a bestseller is angelic to me.
How would you describe your personal style?
The bad boy that you can still bring home to your mom.
What was your previous work experience before launching your brand?
I was raised in a real estate environment. Business was something taught to me at a young age. With that edge and my passion for fashion, I knew this lifestyle brand had to be built.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an NYC-based brand?
Advantages: We are constantly forced to keep up here. So even if I tried, we can never be off our A game. The fast pace, big city life demands constant upgrades and keep us busy mentality.
“It’s a better experience when you are buying a personality rather than just another product.”
What sets your brand apart from the rest?
What makes our brand so unique is the development process. Every inch of fabric and idea of design is overseen by our world-class designers here in NYC. Hand-crafted production happens by the most skilled artisans in Brazil. This combination is a gold standard for any footwear brand.
What do you envision for the future of your brand?
At the moment, we are a full lifestyle brand for men. There are whispers of creating a woman’s line as well. A his and hers type of brand may be on the horizon.
How important is social media to your brand?
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. As a brand owner, I get to present my own product. Our Instagram following is so loyal and engaged. It feels as if I have a personal connection with every fan, every customer, and everyone following. It’s a better experience when you are buying a personality rather than just another product.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career, what would it be?
Be organic. You can’t force things to come. They must come naturally. It’s our responsibility to put in our best effort. The rest has to happen on its own.