Credit: Ariel and Isac
Creating a streetwear line can be both taxing and rewarding, especially when it is a family business. However, the Iphi brothers, make running a company as a family appear easy by giving each other the space to be their own creative selves. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Ariel and Isac created ‘Cold Attitude‘, a brand that gives the customers a taste of the fashion and culture behind the capital of Ontario.
I recently caught up with the team of brothers and we discussed the making of ‘Cold Attitude‘, how they gained their experience of music by running events and parties to creating their now successful brand and who they hope to work with, in the near future.
Megan Ambers: Who are the designers behind ‘Cold Attitude’?
Cold Attitude: We are brothers, founders, and designers of the brand. I myself, Ariel Iphi (age 23), run the operational side of things along with finding the inspiration to curate a lot of our designs. My brother, Isac Iphi (age 21), handles marketing and public relations. There’s a lot that goes into what we do, but in hindsight, we’re a jack of all trades here. Together we use both of our individual tastes and unique fashion senses to create our clothing. We influence each other heavily. It gets tough at times, and disagreements do arise, but that’s probably due to our focus to deliver the best product we can.
MA: How did growing up in Toronto inspire the message behind “Cold Attitude”?
Cold Attitude: When you think of one of the greatest cities in the world, you almost immediately think of New York. We had the benefit of having so much family there, that we visit a couple times here and there per year. We always get the same questions, “What do you do up there?”, “How cold is it?”, I’ll be like, the same weather as here to be honest. New York showed us a lot, it showed us a lot of potentials that Toronto has. New York birthed Biggie Smalls, Jay Z, and Diddy, but Toronto brought Drake, The Weeknd and Tory Lanez to the world. We have a culture and it’s time for the world to see it. Toronto is everything to us, and we wanna show everyone why. We felt that our voice hasn’t been heard and that we may as well give it a shot. The idea of Cold Attitude essentially holds a double entendre. The phrase derives from the idea of aggressive and hungry behavior. Being Cold blooded, or having a Cold Attitude. It also breaks through the idea that Toronto, Canada is more than just being the “Cold” city of all the great cities in the world. And we as Torontonians have an Attitude to show what we got. We’re more than just the cold city above the border.
MA: On your “About” page of your website, you said that your clothing line “has emerged from an entertainment collective.” Can you further explain what do you mean by entertainment collective and how did you incorporate that to your line?
Cold Attitude: My Brother and I, at a young age, ran events and concerts. Isac was 17 at the time and I was 19. It was hard to have an underage DJ perform at venues. So we bought out a club for a night, sold tickets, and even brought out Robin Banks, a Toronto rapper. We did so well that the owner of the club offered a residency position. That’s how we started. We later did it again and brought out Ramriddlz, and at this point, we’ve been in the presence of many artists, one of them being A Boogie Wit A Hoodie. In earlier days, we understood that we needed to make an entertainment group. We were shooting music videos with the help of @avi.vsl, we were booking shows, club appearances and even getting involved in studio time. We thought the perfect thing to top it off was to have some hats to represent us and it essentially took off from there.
MA: How does “Cold Attitude” separates itself from other streetwear lines in Toronto?
Cold Attitude: Our goal is for the brand to be the push of peoples comfort and confidence. It stands for people that have something to prove. All styles, all cultures, and anyone that feels some resonance with the product. It may be hard to see all of that now, but as time goes and we develop, we will have the power and ability to artistically broadcast what we mean. Through pop-ups, collaborations and networking to whom we feel would appreciate the product once they see it on hand. We create fashion but we do not compromise on the quality of the products. We want people to love wearing it and how they feel in it. We want people to be impressed by the quality being better than expected, so much that the price is justifiable.
MA: You mentioned before that it was your cousins (from Brooklyn) that played a role in the notoriety of your brand, particularly by word of mouth. How important is it for a designer or a creative in general to use word of mouth as a technique to gain more customers?
Cold Attitude: Word of mouth is everything of course. It’s like being the drug dealer on the block. You get success when everyone knows who has the good shit. We try to be as close to the customers as possible. My brother and I handle all the emails, DMs, complaints, and positive feedback. Social Media is the new high school cafeteria. A lot of customers, sales, and inquiries come from our DMs. It’s interesting to see how the word of mouth moves around. When we receive purchase orders, at the end of the month we like to take the time to try to spot out our customers. Who they are, their demographic and what they’re into. We’ll almost always see some mutual relations. We learned this method from our cousins out in Brooklyn, I can’t really speak on what the products were, but we’ll leave it at that I guess.
MA: Define what fashion means to you?
Cold Attitude: Fashion means wearing your personality. They say the eyes are the windows to your soul. I feel like fashion is the book cover of your character. In many ways we find that fashion correlates with music. We often listen to artists that resonate a story within us. We buy albums and listen to singles that express how we feel. Clothing has the same effect on us. We buy things based on how we feel towards the product. What’s the story behind the brand name, what’s the process on how it’s made, to what organizations do they contribute and get involved in. Fashion hits uniquely to peoples tastes and cultures. That’s the fun of it to me. I love learning and exploring different personalities, cultures, and emotions and think of how we can create something to offer them.
MA: What skills do you feel are a necessity in order to be a successful designer?
Cold Attitude: Not being afraid to challenge comfort zones. It’s probably one of the toughest parts of the fashion industry. Nobody cares about your product if it follows a trend 2 years later. Often times a product can take up to 6 months to create from conception to retail. The pressure of timing, and actually knowing whether or not you have the next trend on your hands is often challenging. One of the first products we had mocked up was an all black corduroy crewneck. There weren’t much corduroy products available in the market. And so we were extremely nervous to launch the product. About a year later, corduroy was the trend. We would’ve been very successful with the product had we stepped out of our comfort zone. And so, for every design we mock up, we try our best to challenge ourselves and our comfort.
MA: How do you stay in touch with the current trends regarding fashion?
Cold Attitude: A lot of our inspiration comes from what creatives of underground artists are into. We see what people are wearing to the club, and what catches peoples interests. Working in the clubbing and events industry makes it really helpful of course. Our eyes are open. We see everything from the streets to the internet. Instagram is a huge platform where people display their favorite fits. We always keep ourselves updated, however, we don’t really care to align our brand with those trends. We also like to experiment with new fabrics, some that aren’t as traditional as many brands might explore for retail outlets. That really helps us to create unique pieces and integrate higher-end fashion goods with artistic designs for better pricing and delivery.
MA: Isac, as a DJ, you know and understand how to follow trends when it comes down to what songs are and aren’t popular in the clubs. How did you and your brother Ariel incorporate that into your line?
Cold Attitude: We see the potential in something that may not be hyped at the moment but has the potential to be in the future. Bringing back old tracks like Yeah! By Usher, or If I Can’t by 50 Cent. Those songs still bump, and the club loves it. I like offering nostalgia mixed with some “SoundCloud” songs that are on a current wave. My favorite is when I see people shazaming a track. My brother and I really see the same protocol follow suit in clothing. Sometimes bringing back the old becomes the new. Added with a twist to which has not been mainstream yet.
MA: Are there any brands or celebrities you see yourself collaborating with?
Cold Attitude: Yes. We had the pleasure of working with Jake Paul. The relationship was helped through a friend, Jaay Da Barber. Jake saw the product, loved the quality and asked if he can have a set. We were excited because it assured us that we’re on the right path. It was an organic reach. We didn’t reach out or pay for an endorsement. There was an appreciation for the product. Our segmented target is however revolved around music. We want to inspire sound to have some physical aesthetics. Not specific to Hip Hop music, but if there was one artist that I could pick to wear our brand it would be either Lil Uzi or Jay Z.
MA: where do you see yourself in the ten years?
Cold Attitude: Our only goal coming up is to open a retail store in Toronto. We have dreams and ambitions to open up shop in New York, LA, London, etc… But we don’t really focus so far ahead. We try to focus on what’s next in the near future and things that can gradually take us to the next step. Wherever that may be.
MA: What advice do you have for designers that want to step into the designer aspect of streetwear?
Cold Attitude: To understand within yourself what is your inspiration and create a story. But really, The best advice is to probably tell you that you don’t need any advice. Creativity comes uniquely from within each person. No one can tell you how you feel, you just gotta work on what you would love. I’ve done sales all my life since a young age. One thing I can tell you is that it’s near impossible to sell a product you wouldn’t buy yourself. So do whatever you feel is best for you, someone out there will resonate with it.