Today’s Feature, August 27-28: Chad and Evan Birenbaum

January 18, 2008 at 5:41 pm (Today's Feature)

I’ve said this a million times, but one of the best parts about featuring great artists and individuals is getting to hear the story behind the concept. Whether it was a life long dream, a random “aha moment”or some divine intervention that told them, “I have to do this”. I think Chad Birenbaum, co-founder of 100 Styles And Running, said it best, “Evan and I sort of hit a point in our lives where we said if we don’t make this dream a reality, we’ll always say, remember when we could of…should of…but didn’t.” I love that line, it’s says so much and rings so very true. Chad and Evan Birenbaum, brothers (but prefer to call themselves “sole brothersî) and founders of the slick new shoe line, 100 Styles And Running, have been making headlines ever since they decided to pursue their dream. When I heard about what they were up to, I knew I had to contact them.

Chad is the designer, Evan is the businessman but both will admit that when you start from the ground up, in a two-man company, you have to wear several hats. It may be hats they are wearing in the office but it is just a matter of time before everyone on the street is wearing their shoes. There new line is geared toward the everyday hipster who can go from street to office to club and not need to skip a beat. Their shoes were a long time coming; Chad used to draw, tape up, rip apart and add onto his own sneakers when he was a teenager. He always knew there would be something there and it was the push of confidence from his little brother, Evan that has put them where they are today. It may be too early to call them “the next big shoe designers”but why not? Why not call it like it is? If I don’t, who knows, maybe years down the road, I’ll be saying, “could of…should of…but didn’t.” Before you run out and fill your closet, check out their XXQs to find out more.

XXQs: Chad and Evan Birenbaum – 100 Styles and Running

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did 100 Styles and Running first get started?

Chad: I’d have to say that the idea for 100 Styles And Running started in August of 2002.It was an idea that Evan and I had talked about and we let it sit on the back burner for a while. Then† Evan and I sort of hit a point in our lives where we said if we don’t make this dream a reality, we’ll always say, remember when we could of…should of…but didn’t.

Evan: Dublin Classic technically started in August of 2002 however at the time it bared a different name. My brother and I were traveling through Europe. I believe it was over pitchers of grolch that we decided to go into the fashion business. We always wanted to go into business together and fashion was something that we always appreciated. Pear Tree Enterprises was born.

After some trials in the apparel business, Chad and I decided that we wanted to make our mark in footwear fashion. 100 Styles and Running is enabling us to do just that. We will continue to build the brand by adding apparel that compliment our footwear but for now footwear is our focus. We have many things up our sleeves and cant wait to introduce it all into the market. That’s all I will only allude to for now.

PEV: What is the story behind the name Dublin Classic and 100 Styles And Running?

Chad: 100 Styles And Running name happened when I was creating an entire shoe line from scratch and had to hit a certain deadline to have samples made. I was stressing and my brain was working overtime. I said to Evan I’m not going to stop designing this line until we’re 100 Styles And Running. I said to Evan, hey thats a cool name what do you think. Evan said, I like that, lets run it by our publicist. Our publicist loved it, Evan and I both dug it and that was that. It’s a name that stands for longevity. If we produce 100 styles then we’re going to be a brand thats going to be around for a while not be a brand that has one hot season and then you never hear their name again.

Evan: During our trip in Europe, we tried to get to Dublin, Ireland several times. No plane, or boat, or train, could get us there for whatever reason. During our “trials” with the fashion business, at points it almost felt like we were back in Europe, trying to get to Dublin. So when we were starting our first shoe brand, we named after Dublin respectively (the journey that started everything). Classic fashion is something that we inspire for so that where classic came from.

PEV: Was fashion something that you always wanted to go into? If not

what brought on the desire to make your own line?

Chad: We both were very interested in†certain aspects of fashion. I went to school for graphic design, into my senior year I wanted to get into industrial design, but I didn’t want to have to get another degree and go back to school. The idea for the company happened going into my senior year so I graduated with a BS in Visual Communications†and decided to make 100 Styles And Running my industrial design education. I guess you can call it a crash course in industrial design.

Evan: Going into business together is something that Chad and I have always inspired for. My brother and I have always been very close. We make a great a team and enjoy working with each other.

PEV: What has been the hardest part about building the company so far?

Chad: I’m wearing a lot of hats, as does Evan. I am doing all of our art and creative direction as well as our graphic design and I’m the head designer and developer for the shoes themselves so it’s hard to balance your projects especially when everything is revolved around production schedules and sales seasons.

Evan: There have been a few challenges and road bumps along the way. I would the hardest part about building the shoe division was when we first started working with our manufacturers. Most of our production people are over seas and as you can imagine our concepts and ways of doing things are very different. It took a few try’s and trips overseas to get our shoes right.

PEV: For those of us that don’t know how the fashion world works, what

is the business like behind the scenes?

Chad: The biggest thing that I have learned is that all decisions of styles, colors, trends and materials are a year out from a particular season. Lets say that lime green is going to be the hot summer color for 2008, that color was picked out a little of a year before. It’s then up to designers and labels to decide if they are going to feature that color in their particular collection. So basically alot of trends are picked out a year before you ever see them in person.

Evan: The fashion business is challenging and is constantly changing directions. It evolves with what’s going on in the world and innovates with technological advances. Our business runs much like any other business that develops a product. There is research and development, production and manufacturing, logistics, marketing and branding, financing, technology, sales, customer service and of course- demand.

In the end – people want their fashion and we the people of fashion inspire to give the public what they want. Magazines write about it, stylists put people in it, buyers get it on the racks, and the consumers live for it. It’s an exciting industry to be in.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career in fashion?

Chad: Our mom is all for it, she’s an investor a partner and one of the stars in our logo. Our father helped us raise some of our initial start up money. My friends are very supportive and some of my design colleagues are helping out where they can, i.e., web design, layout and photography. Not to mention all the word of mouth advertising that all of our friends have been doing.

Evan: My friends have been very supportive in my decision to go into the fashion. They know that this is something that I’ve always been passionate about and they are all looking forward to first dibs on next season’s product. My family has been very supportive as well. We couldn’t have done any of this without our family’s support. They have been behind us every step of the way and we owe them everything.

PEV: Celebrities can boost sales dramatically overnight. Which celebrity would you most want to endorse 100 Styles and Running?

Chad: For me I’d say Justin Timberlake†and Lupe Fiasco.

Evan: Justin Timberlake- Over all his style and what he brings to the industry is a good fit for 100 Styles and Running.

PEV: What can people expect from the line? How is it different from other footwear lines today?

Chad: 100 Styles And Running is sort of a mash-up of genre’s. I have a formula, I follow I love to take†two complete opposites, fuze them together and then do something totally opposite of both styles.† For instance one of our shoes has sort of a rugged boot style but we remixed it, made it fashion forward instead camp ground glam. Then we finished it off with premium materials and developed a great comfort system for it. Some shoes look great but are very uncomfortable and lack in good materials, some are comfortable but lack in style. So we developed something that looks good and feels good, and the buyer can walk away feeling like they made a very sound purchase.

Evan: People can expect great styles of shoes and apparel coming from us. What separates 100 Styles and Running from its competitors is our desire to promote longevity through innovation and style. By remaining on the cutting edge of emerging trends and fashions, our collection evolves with its surroundings.

PEV: Why shoes? With all the avenues of fashion, what is about a shoe line that made you go this route?

Chad: Actually the idea started off as a denim and T-Shirt line, but we were having a hard time finding people to manufacture what we were looking for. Then I had come up with an idea to do some really cool innovative mens bags, but again we were having problems finding some that could manufacture the bags to our specs. We were frustrated and then Evan said, hey Chad can you still draw shoes like when we were kids. I said I dunno give me a couple days and I’ll show you something. We both were sneaker heads and I drew something that I would wear but hadn’t seen on the shelves. Evan said damn, I guess you still can draw shoes. We had shown the shoe to someone in the business and then by chance, or by fate I had gotten an email from a developer who said he would love to work on the line.

Evan: Chad used to remix his kicks when he was like 12. He’d draw all over them and sketch out new things that probably would be good enough to go to market today. I have always had a passion for footwear and I remember that I used to want to sell the shoes for him. I guess that’s where it all started. If you asked me when I was 8 would I go into the footwear business with my brother, I probably would have said yes.

PEV: Describe what it was like the first time you saw the first completed pair of 100 Styles And Running?

Chad: I thought it was the coolest thing to be able to take a 2 dimensional drawing and a concept and make a 3 dimensional object. Also the fact the you could put it on your foot and walk around was amazing to me. Then you have to get over the shock and awe and sit down and start correcting mistakes or change something that worked out on paper but then didn’t look so hot in person. Or you may see something in person that sparks and idea and you may want to go in a different direction all together.

Evan: The first completed pair almost brought tears of joy to my eyes. The first pair developed though was a different story. I think I was almost crying. Everything was wrong.

PEV: You both travel quite a bit, spreading the word and showing the line, what is the “hot spot” for fashion in the US? Why?

Chad: Evan does more of the sales then I do. If we were Dr. Dre and Eminem, I would be Dre and Evan would be Eminem. I’m more behind the boards and Evan is more on the microphone working the crowd, getting them hype. Evan gets a lot of feedback and ideas from living in Los Angeles, With Evan there is in a mecca of emerging trends and fashions.

Evan: I’d say LA and NY take the cake when it comes to hot spots for fashion in the USA. Most of the industry is based in these locations. Events, and shows, trade magazines, etc. Internationally, Hong Kong, Tokyo Japan, France, Italy, Spain, London, Canada.

PEV: Are there any other designers that have helped influence your style?

Chad: I am a huge fan of Andy Warhol, graffiti, and the entire Hip-Hop movement. I also idolize the designs that came out of the Bauhaus school in the 30’s and 40’s. Clean minimalist designs and philosophy that form follows function.

Evan: I wanted to bring a collection to the hipster scene. Trendsetters looking for hot new fashions for everyday wear. I think that was my biggest influence to our style.

PEV: In your “About Us” section of the site, you pose the question, Are shoes a metaphor for life? So, what is your take on that?

Chad: To me self expression is the most important thing in life. Shoes are a huge form of self expression. They can set a mood or tone. They can shoe your attitude and show your overall style without ever needing to see the rest of the outfit you are wearing or ever knowing a person. So to me a shoe is just a shoe until you make it yours and give it a personality. Until it has personality it might as well be a 2 dimensional drawing.

Evan: I think shoes can tell a lot about a person. They can make statements, show a person’s character, sometimes even tell a story. So yes, shoes can be a metaphor for life.

PEV: Not all brothers can say they could work together, let alone run a business together. What is your secret and how do you make it work?

Chad: We have good yin and yang. Evan has very good business skills and I have good design skills, so where we are weak the other is strong. We communicate a lot and we discuss every move we’re going to make, this way if there is ever a drop back and punt situation you are ready with your next move.

Evan: My brother and I have a lot of respect for what one another brings to the table. In any business relationship it’s important to keep an open mind when working with business partners. We both understand that we have very different ways of looking at things and respect each others ideas. We disagree at times but we listen and communicate extremely well and this I’d say is the secret to our working relationship.

PEV: You also mention that you want to cross over from being able to wear sneakers to work. What is the worst fashion faux-pau in the work place?

Chad: I saw someone wearing brown Croc’s with a black suit. It looked terrible.

Evan: We designed the line so it can be worn all day. We built in a great comfort system into the shoes and we developed an anti microbial technology into our sock liner to repel foul odors. Our styling works dressed up or dressed down. I think its important to be comfortable and stylish at work. A fashion fax pas in the office-out of date fashion!

PEV: What can we find you both doing in your spare time?

Chad: I work out a lot and play flag football. It’s almost like have a second job as opposed to a hobby.

Evan: In the winters you’ll find me skiing every chance I get. In the summer time I’m kicking it Cali style on beach. I’m extremely social so getting up in the mix is what I enjoy doing in my spare time.

PEV: Do you plan to offer any other kinds of clothing in the future?

Chad: I think that will most likely be in the works.

Evan: We have an awesome line of apparel coming out next year baring the 100 Styles and Running name. More to come on that really soon.

PEV: Describe the creative process for designing the shoes. What kind of atmosphere do you surround yourselves in when you are creating a shoe design?

Chad: I listen to a lot of Hip Hop and Classic Rock while designing. I’ll start off wanting to hear one genre but then I’ll constantly switch back and fourth because my mood changes. I have a small design studio that I work out of and I always keep the music going.

Evan: For the most part I get inspired from things that are going around me. You never know when a fresh idea or something cool will come your way. For the most part my creativity comes from me being out in the mix. I see something I like or something inspires me and I make note of it. When I get back home or start working in the office the next day, I’ m sure to have that idea still on my mind.

PEV: Have you come across any other young designers in the business

right now? Anyone you think we should be looking out for?

Chad: When we were in China we met this Japanese shoe designer named Eato. He was very cool and even though we couldn’t understand each other we understood design and could share ideas.

Evan: Kings of Glory, Fidelity Denim.

PEV: One word, what do you want people to think when they see the 100 Styles And Running line.

Chad: Clean.

Evan: Crave

PEV: So, what is next for the Birenbaum brothers and 100 Styles and Running?

Chad: Hopefully a vacation to Dublin, Ireland. For Evan and me, a trip to Dublin will mark success.

Evan: Lots more to come!

Check out more about Chad and Evan at http://www.100StylesAndRunning.com/sneakpeek.com

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