Robot & Brucling by: London Vanderbilt

RnB Joanna shoot

Inaugural designers Christopher Bennett (24) and Bruce Franklin (23) collectively known as Robot & Brucling. Both Boston natives and lovers of art and history, the two young fashion pioneers have only begun to scratch the surface of their trail-blazing careers. Moving to that concrete jungle known as New York City to get the ball rolling on their one-of-a-kind custom bow tie and accessories line was an integral part of their journey. With clients from Tila Tequila, Rihanna, Steph Jones, Lil Kim, Antonio Sabato Jr. and most recently “King B” herself………BEYONCE’!!!!!! They’ve also gotten notoriety from the well-known celebrity stylist, June Ambrose. I got the opportunity to talk with the two and discuss the success of their brand and I was surprised that the interview became an inspirational one. So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Robot & Brucling!
London V: First, let me start by thanking you guys for agreeing to participate in this interview with us. So tell me how did the two of you come to join forces?
Robot: That kind of happened by chance; we met after high school because we knew each other in middle school and we went to the same school in high school and reconnected after. We were both in the fashion scene, modeling as well as doing our own individual designing. We went to church and we heard a message speaking about the power of agreement and two being better than one so we decided we would be better working together and doing a lot better joining forces.

London V: Wow! That’s really something! Going to church, not really telling anyone about what you guys were already thinking about and getting confirmation to go ahead and join forces. Now how did the idea of the bow ties come into play?
Robot: Well initially, when we decided to work together we started out doing custom style vests, hooded vests or denim vests and when I say vests I mean more of a tuxedo style vest or like a dress vest. But when you’re starting out that can be a bit much, as far as production and cost and things like that. The bow tie idea actually came when I had an event to go to and I was looking all over for a denim bow tie, which I couldn’t find anywhere so I decided to make one. I sat down on my living room floor with no kind of manual, looked at a bow tie and made a pattern and constructed a denim bow tie with a chain and wore that to the event. Later on we went to New York together on a shopping trip to get materials and it was the overwhelming response to that bow tie that kind of had us on a corner after the second or third person stopped us asking “How can I get that bow tie?” I’m looking at Bruce and he’s looking at me and I’m like well, are we going to make this a part of Robot & Brucling? Are we going to make it part of the company? It was kind of a quick decision but it soon became Robot & Brucling. So we went from the vest to the bow ties.

London V:  Now what would you say Robot & Brucling is a fusion of?

Brucling: I would say that Robot & Brucling is a fusion of a lot of inspirations from growing up. Like an urban flare, a combination of a rock star lifestyle, a young, hip, trendy city person lifestyle.

London V: I totally agree, your brand is something young individuals that are into fashion can take and add it to their style to create something unique. With that being said when did it REALLY occur to you that the bow tie idea could be something major?
Robot: I would say that day we were out in New York. We were walking through SoHo really quickly because as a designer when you’re on a mission, especially a shopping trip to get things done we were moving pretty fast but we didn’t miss the eyes being taken by the bow tie on my neck. People really couldn’t catch us to say anything but there were a few courageous people who yelled out at us and that’s when I knew that this was something big.

London V: So what can we expect from you guys this summer?
Brucling: We actually just released a few limited summer pieces on our website and that’s going to be a limited collection. You’ll find a fusion of color-blocking on the bow ties and we used different prints with leopard, lamb skin leather and also were going to release probably mid-summer pocket squares and you can find those in leopard silk patterns, zebra silk patterns, and cheetah…some really edgy pocket squares are next.

London V:  Sounds like you guys will be painting the world Robot & Brucling!! Now describe the feeling of you guys sitting at home or wherever you are and seeing Beyonce’ wearing a Robot & Brucling bow tie on the Oprah finale show?
Brucling: SHOCKED!!! It was like a dream come true. Because she was one of the people we put on the top of our list. And when I got the news from Chris my mouth dropped, I was eating at the time and I lost my appetite. It was very shocking but I felt blessed.
Robot: Likewise!

London V: I can only imagine the feeling that you both felt because she is an artist that every designer wants to see wearing their collection and for you guys to have accomplished that at a young age is AMAZING!! So what inspires you guys?
Brucling: We’re inspired by history. Geographical locations were actually a big inspiration for the first collection. The rock & roll lifestyle, art, we both love Andy Warhol. Then we have other really creative things that we look to but our design inspiration is primarily from art, history, and things of that nature.
Robot: Furthermore, I would like to add that it’s not even always designs from history but more so “things” from history. We may look at a certain time period and wonder what did that era feel like? Not what did the design look like and what were the people wearing, what did the era in Europe feel like? What did the era in America in the 50’s feel like? Not really what were people wearing but how do we interpret what the 50’s were like? And what do we feel from that, then Bruce may drop a design concept, an overall concept, or we may come up with something together or I may come up with an idea and then we move from that point. We are even further detached from you normally see from other designs and I think that’s why we’ve been so far off the mark from looking like what everyone else looks like when they design.

London V: That’s great that you guys separate yourselves from other designers and do your own thing and not what may be expected. Now out of everyone that has worn Robot & Brucling, who else is there that you guys have to get next?
Robot: I think we both agree we would love to see Janelle Monae in one of our pieces. Because she is what Robot & Brucling stands for. So we would love for Janelle Monae to wear one of our bow ties.

London V:  Is there a possibility of a full Robot & Brucling Collection?
Robot: Of Course!! We’ve always had the goal of producing ready-to-wear. We love clothes, we love accessories. So, I think it’s kind of a destiny, I don’t think we can decide when we’re going to do clothes because we don’t have a choice.

London V:  Where do you see Robot & Brucling five years from now?
Robot: Five years from now, I see us being available in different retail and boutique locations but right now we’re only available in a couple of boutiques. I want to be sure we get over to a European market. We defiantly want to develop a brand and build on our brand so we can introduce more pieces like ready to wear. We see ourselves being a household name.

London V: I think that you guys are really on your way to becoming that household name…maybe sooner than later! So lastly, to the young designer who may be reading this and say “Hey! I want to be just like them, I want Beyonce wearing my designs” what would you say to them?
Brucling: I would say what’s always most important is something that two of my bosses in the past said to me, not direct bosses but they were higher up in the company and I had the privilege of having them offer me advice. 1.) Never waist your potential and push it to the limit where you can’t push anymore and when you get there just push past that…so always push to your highest potential and 2.) Just really do things the way you do them and you should be fine, just be the best you that you can be.
Robot: I found that this is something that I’ve been trying to live by for the last two years and a couple of my mentors have taught me this – basically find something that you love or love what you do. I think that’s the only way you’ll be successful in any career or anything you take on. Make sure that you love it because if you don’t love it or have a passion for it, it’s going to be hard to excel in that area.

London V: That was really powerful and I think that there are a lot of people who may read this and are going to take heed to what you guys have just said. I know I said that was the last question but I have one more. Through all of the success and recognition that you guys have received, how do you stay so down to earth and humble?
Brucling: Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Robot: Exactly! Prayer and focus.
Brucling: He directs us in everything we do, so prayer like Chris said.
Robot: Because when you’re focused, you really don’t have time to buy into whatever the hype is or whatever the big thing is about your brand. Because your focus is your work so, celebrate by continuing to work on your brand.

For more information : http://www.robotandbrucling.com/

About the author

Maurice J. Lawyer has written 332 articles for BE Entertained Magazine

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