Updated: May 5
Upon speaking with Derek Ford Jr., the creator of the Carter Wear brand, I was pleasantly surprised to find a humility that some lack once achieving success. It was immediately evident in his speech that he continues to keep his ear to the ground when it comes to what the public wants and eyes to the sky when looking at the future of the Carter Wear company.
We talked about everything from its inception, its future, and of course…underwear.
Interview by Shawn Christopher
PHOTOGRAPHER MARCUS L HAMPTON
MODEL DEREK FORD
IN CARTER WEAR
“You don’t always find brands that take on comfort and style in the same breath. I think that’s what makes us special, we don’t substitute comfort for sexiness.”
What was the inspiration behind the Carter Wear brand?
The primary inspiration for Carter Wear was not finding the products I was looking for at the moment. One day, I was looking for colored underwear and saw a lack. They just weren’t available to men which led to the birth of the company.
What (3) words would you use to describe the brand?
Innovative, colorful, and forward-thinking. A safe place for anyone who is looking to explore different types of underwear outside of the traditional. We literally have everything under the sun in both style and color.
Take us back to the first showcasing of the Carter Wear brand. What was that experience like?
The first showcasing of Carter Wear in New Jersey at Moorestown Mall was shocking. Simply because I had no idea how anyone would react to the product in person. You don’t see jockstraps and thongs on display at a conservative mall. Not everyone was so used to seeing those types of styles. Some oohs and ahs, some gasps, and lots of pointing. Ultimately, we gained sales by continuing to speak to the lack of both comfortable and sexy underwear and continuing to push the limit.
In what ways does your brand express body positivity?
Body positivity is the core of who we are. One of the ways we express it primarily is through our visuals. We are most known for our campaign that showcased different types of bodies. Super athletic, slim, thick, and other types. I always make sure to display that. Even down to our retail stores. We have mannequins of all sizes to show what people might look like in our products in real life.
Tell us about your most exciting collaboration.
The Carter Wear and Alphie collaboration. We came together to create underwear that was themed around the city of Miami. It was our first major collab. We did a campaign rollout and photoshoot by the beach. It was exciting to see what customers gravitated towards and what they thought about these specialized cuts.
Name a celebrity you would like to eventually collaborate with.
Doja Cat. I feel as though her aesthetic is incredible and her fashion-forward way of thinking aligns with where we would like to take the brand. I would absolutely love to work with her.
At what point did you recognize the success of the brand?
When our website crashed. This goes back to the nude campaign. We had a lot of people on our website within the first sixty seconds. Our site crashed and I was completely mind blown. It made me realize like okay, this is really happening.
What veteran brands do you look up to or have found inspirational?
Calvin Klein has been very influential in shining a light on men and underwear. I definitely want to highlight them. They set the standard along with Tommy Hilfiger and of course, Ralph Lauren.
What would you say makes your brand unique from the rest?
What makes us unique is the wide range of styles we offer for men. In addition to colors, our way of constructing our garments is unique as well. You don’t always find brands that take on comfort and style in the same breath. I think that’s what makes us special, we don’t substitute comfort for sexiness which has ultimately led to the success of Carter Wear. We also pay close attention to detail. We are customer and product obsessed. We think about how our style may fit throughout a general day.
What advice would you like to share with someone who has a dream of owning their own clothing brand?
The advice I would like to share is to focus on product development first. Second, know your customer, who you want to reach before the product is even done. It serves as a good foundation. What you are selling and making sure it’s the best you can possibly make is the foundation of a great business.
What can we expect from Carter Wear in the future?
In the future you can expect an expansion to women’s needs. More retail stores across the U.S. You can expect us to expand in different product categories. Expanding more into apparel and other things of that nature ■
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