From doing the door to some of the most exclusive lounges in NYC, to being a successful T-shirt designer, Richard Wheeler seems to be a jack of all trades. His clothing company “Emperors New Clothes” has some of the best selling T-shirts in the past decade. Currently you can find Richard being in charge of the velvet ropes at NY Hotspot LAVO. Richard was kind enough to do this interview with us and it is quite the read. We hope you enjoy!
Q. Where did you grow up?
A.A small town named Denham on the edge of North West London.
Q. How do you like living in NYC compared to where you grew up, are you glad you made the move?
A. Although I resided on the edge of London it was still was an hour commute to Central London. I have always disliked commuting. Where I grew up consisted of several Pubs and two terrible “Discothèques”.
Manhattan is a ten-minute commute to almost anything I need; there seems to be more than several pubs and two Discothèques here too!
I am very happy in Manhattan.
Q. Being a doorman and a designer, how much does appearance matter when someone approaches your door?
A. Appearance is important. To a degree, what you wear is a reflection of yourself. As a doorman I need to make fast decisions to make sure I have a room of people that will enjoy each others company and fit the vibe of the venue I am working for.
Q. Before you started working in nightlife and fashion, what were you doing?
A. My studies first were in fine art. Ending with an Honors Degree in fashion Design. I’ve been involved in fashion the entirety of my career. Although, simultaneously I’ve worked in other industries. I was a model agent for Elite Models, NY. I also produced campaigns for clients, lots of model casting (something I thought I would be getting away from after departing Elite Models?!).
Q. Who are some your influences in nightlife as well as fashion?
A. The Brand I work for today, “Lavo” and the team behind this venue/s. Today, they have created some of the most influential restaurants and Nightclubs in America. As for fashion…I research in broad strokes. Many designers influence me. It may be just one graphic, or one silhouette from a brand that will capture my attention. I believe inspiration comes from every day and the things I am immersed within. I do not focus on one particular brand or competition.
Q. What was the worst thing you’ve seen someone wearing when they came to a club you was working at?
A. I could make a top 100 list for you if only I had time! I’ve seen it ALL. Let your imagination flow, I probably have seen what ever you think.
My personal dislikes are: Excessive use of hair gel, vulgar gold chains and Branded tops that feel the need to place their logo intrusively large as to disrupt my evening.
Q. If you had an opportunity to throw a party anywhere, where would it be and who would be DJ’ing?
A. On a private island in Palawan, Philippines. I would like Laid Back Luke to DJ provided he threw in some Dub step into this set, as he probably would. Maybe some local talent too, such as the talented and attractive Katrina Razon, Manila. No need for a velvet rope on a private island, just fantastic invitations only. Yes, this would be a party.
Q. What’s the best perk of being a doorman in NYC?
A. Being a doorman I get to see my friends whilst working, that’s a nice perk. It is a very social vocation for which I enjoy. Naturally, I get to meet many interesting people from all walks of life. I have built a very strong Rolodex over the years of which will often prove valuable.
Q. Do you try to send out a message or theme in your clothes?
A. Yes. This is the foundation of my brand. I always try to deliver on this because I find the T-shirt to be the perfect canvas of expression. Providing a voice for the wearer.
Q. Did you ever consider broadening your range outside of designing T-shirts and moving onto other clothing?
A. I have often created embroidered shirts, jackets, and even doggy apparel! Ultimately, I focus on T-shirts. They provide me the most joy by virtue of their simplicity. Once you place a message or graphic upon them they can express any thing you like. Like a painting. I guess I still like to paint then. I just replaced the canvas for a T-shirt.
Q. What’s your favorite season for fashion?
A. Spring/Summer – What is the most common piece of clothing one would wear during this season…?
Q. Your t-shirt line is unique and different, has there ever been an experience or story you wanted to portray in them?
A. Growing up in the 80’s I was very influenced by the music and fashion that immersed this decade. Katherine Hamnett had created positive messages in large slogan format on T-shirts for the band Wham. I felt the energy of this and the excitement that any message can be shared on a T-shirt.
Arguably, I played a influential role in the re-immergence of the slogan Tee for my debut collection consisting of messages such as “Please don’t feed the Models,” “Fame is Not Sexually Transmitted,” “I only Sleep with The Best,” and “This is Not a Photo Opportunity.” To name a few.
Q. Out of all the t-shirts you’ve created, what’s your favorite and why?
A. I cannot answer this! I prefer to look forward. As an artist, I become focused on my new designs and find it difficult to look back.
Q. What’s the most difficult part of running your own clothing label?
A. There are many moving parts. Production, finance, Marketing, Design, Sales. Each one is as fundamental as the next.
Q. With the New York nightlife scene being so selective, how do you handle turning people away at your door?
A. Always be respectful and polite. There is nothing rewarding from turning people away. The decisions are made solely on making sure the right mix of clientele enters every evening providing a great energy. Decisions are made based on this. There are a multitude of factors I constantly need to monitor.
Being a doorman sometimes can mean hundreds of people at a time I need to address. Be respectful, polite, sincere and as kind as you can, but be fast and decisive.
Five Things you cant live without:
- Good company, food and drinks.
Excitement, I thrive in an environment where you really do not know what tomorrow brings.
- Beautiful Women.
- Swimming in tropical rain.
-Travel – I have recently completed my photo Montague of “Around the World in Ninety Stupid Poses”. It consists of one certain pose I do in front of chosen places of interest in every country. My friends made fun of me for years for doing this. Today, they love it!
- I have just launched my new brand “HOUS”. It it’s a line dedicated to celebrating house music. It is an extremely exciting moment in my career.
What’s the most trouble you have ever gotten into?
A lot. I have always lived a little wild. Specifics…perhaps on my deathbed.
A Motto or saying you live by:
I try to do every thing I can in life. I want to experience as much as I can. It sounds cliché but you really do only have one life, and it goes fast. I detest procrastination or fear.
What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?
Living on the aforementioned Island in the Philippines.
Favorite Genre of Music:
Radio head – “Creep”
Two random things that most people would have never guessed about you:
I’m English and not a football (soccer) fan.
I nearly chose to be an Animal Vet when I was younger.
If you had a time machine and a chance to travel anywhere in time where would you go?
The day before the last mega millions lottery? Otherwise, the future. As I mentioned before, I like to move forward not backwards.
Check out Richard’s website here: www.enctees.com