Angel Tavarez and Raymond Croft both show no fear when it comes to expressing their love for both fashion and life. The two college friends combined their passions for all things unique and urban to create their thriving clothing line, Crew Love Apparel.
Having only started 10 months ago, in April 2012, these two unquestionably stylish men put in incredible amounts of hard work to achieve their mutual dream of being successful designers. YHM wanted to find out where Angel and Ray are on their path to changing the fashion world and how they got there.
YHM: Explain to us the process of creating Crew Love. What made you start designing?
AT: I met my co-founder, Ray, through the EOF program (Educational Opportunity Fund) at Rutgers. We were just two guys interested in dressing up and looking good. I was in a couple of fashion shows, and I realized I really liked the idea of wearing nice clothes. Ray and I found a love for shopping in thrift stores. People started asking where we got these clothes from, so I wanted to spread the idea, since it [dressing well] comes naturally to us. We had some connections that helped us get a little established.
RC: For one, my major is graphic design, so designing has always been something I love to do from an early age. Also, I’ve always been heavy into fashion and style, therefore, my passion for design and fashion eventually became intertwined.
YHM: What’s your design aesthetic?
AT: We do a lot of plain, clean things, with centered graphics, specifically hearts and anchors. The broken heart especially is a symbol for me – I’ve always liked broken hearts and the idea of hearts in general. So far, it’s been a success – we’ve had the chance to work with amazing artists like Fat Joe and Wiz Khalifa.
RC: I would describe our aesthetic as one that does at first only appeal to the skater, hipster style dressers. But if you take a deeper look into our brand, you will see that we have pieces that would appeal to any group.
YHM: What were some struggles you faced?
AT: At first, it was hard starting out on our own dollar. We weren’t able to produce enough merchandise to keep up with the orders. So, money is an issue we’re currently overcoming. We’re also getting used to the timeline, keeping up with the pace of the fashion world. We used to run on our own schedule that revolved heavily around college, but now, we’re able to do things like show our Fall 2013 collection in the spring.
RC: Wouldn’t necessarily call it a struggle, but more so the realization that in order to create a brand that is timeless, one must truly understand that there is a mission at hand.
YHM: Tell us a little about your own personal style – what’s your inspiration, what do you like in design, and how does it affect what you do for Crew Love?
AT: I’m a thrift shopper. I don’t shop at the mall – you won’t catch any lookalike items to the ones I own. I don’t like following trends either. I’ve been wearing things like leather pants and cheetah prints for a while. Cheetah print is something that I really love. It’s a timeless print! One of my favorite pieces from our fall collection is the “Wild Love” shirt, which has a broken cheetah print heart.
RC: For my own personal style, I have several different styles of dressing, usually depending on the event I am heading too. It can range anywhere between rocking a retro Olympic track jacket and Jordan’s, to a vintage blazer with nice plaid shirt and bow tie. Through the variation in my style, this allows me to design with different aesthetics in mind. In all, not limiting the image of the brand itself. My two favorite pieces would have to be the “Wild Love” sweatshirt and “Heartbreak Kid” t-shirt.
YHM: If you had to collaborate with any artists or designers, who would they be?
AT: Kanye is my role model. It would be great if we could work with him. I really like what he did with Givenchy, another designer I dream to collaborate with. I love the louder, all over prints that Givenchy designs, and definitely want to get into that with future designs in Crew Love. It would be really dope, though, if thrift stores would sell our clothes – that’s the market we’re really trying to sell to. As far as a store you would find in a mall, Urban Outfitter or Forever 21 would be awesome too.
RC: I would love to collaborate with either Taz Arnold or Jeremy Scott.
YHM: Crew Love just recently started a blog, Sailnista.com. What’s it about?
AT: We wanted to fuse the idea of sailing and boats with fashionistas. It’s a street fashion blog, focusing on temporary fashion. We like to publish things we haven’t seen, looks we consider to be different and upcoming. It doesn’t have to make sense to look nice.
YHM: How does Crew Love contribute to the fashion world?
AT: We help describe what’s coming next. People around us witness what trends we tend to follow. For us, fashion is never created, but innovated.
RC: I want Crew Love Apparel to not just be another brand that emulates what’s already out, but instead create a fresh and clean look, one that is timeless and will go on to flourish for years.
YHM: What are some of the events or shows you’ve put on and how do you plan to go further with that?
RC: Some of our most memorable events have been participating in St. John’s University’s Spring Music Fest, as well as Palmersfest at Ohio University. We have had success, through events such as these as well as many others; we have been able to have our clothing favored by artists like Fat Joe and Lloyd.
YHM: What’s in store for the future?
AT: We want to be able to work with PR firms and get out name out there – into magazines, on to celebrities, like Kanye. It would be great to have a stable and consistent following, and be relevant in fashion. We just got our first store – we’d like to be able to expand to different states.
More importantly, we want to show as much love as we can. We’ve done fashion shows, most recently in collaboration with Skull (a fraternity at Rutgers University), where we raised $200 for autism. There’s no limit on how much love that can be spread.
YHM: Keep your eyes and heart focused on Crew Love Apparel as they take over the fashion industry with their fresh and big impact designs. Be sure to check out Sailnista for a new bend on street fashion!
By Pooja Kolluri
Photos: YHM Magazine Archive