Brooklyn Bandit first made their splash in the streetwear game in ’08, and its founder and creative-director Niket Pandya describes the brand’s journey from the underground in Brooklyn, to seeing BKB signature pieces on famous performing artists. And though having celebrities rock your gear is cool. it’s the everyday customers who rep the brand which mean the most to Pandya.
Name: Niket Pandya
Position at Brooklyn Bandit: Creative Director, Founder
1) Tell us a little bit about Brooklyn Bandit. Where, when and how did it all begin?
Back in 2002-2003, the streetwear market was in a very awkward stage. There were about 3 brands that were main-stream: Roca-wear, Sean John and Phat Farm and they dominated the market. Consumers were being fed mainstream bullshit and needed more flavor in their everyday wardrobe. I was an underground retailer of streetwear. I sold everything from NBA jerseys to Nike sneakers. Starting in Brooklyn, my inventory would be sold in Manhattan, and makes its way into New Jersey and Pennsylvania, mainly being sold to high schools kids at a reasonable rate. Most of what I was selling was main-stream, but I would also offer some funky ass designs, and people started appreciating the unique style I was bringing to the table. After selling other brands for a while, I noticed that the streetwear market was becoming bland, with very basic clothing. Almost all the denim had an oversized baggy fit, and I wanted to change that. I wanted to offer clothing for the confident young man, who was ready to take on the world with well-fitting streetwear. In 2006, I started sketching some designs. By God’s will, I was able to travel to India in 2008 and produce some designs I has sketched years ago.. And the brand was born. Brooklyn Bandit Jeans Co.
2) How would you describe the style of your brand?
BKB is a hybrid between European cut and fit, mashed up with patterns and fabrics of underground NYC. The fabrics that we use are always made from premium cotton. When we are deciding which patterns to use, we aim to be different, yet as simple as possible. Our designs scream with details and turn heads without begging for attention. We make it a priority to ensure none of our styles are on the market when we design them. We like to be different. We like to push boundaries on what is acceptable in streetwear, and people love us for that.
3) What is the most popular thing you guys have designed so far?
Our jeans are very popular. We don’t reproduce our jeans once they sell out, so once a person has them in their hands, they are 1 person out of 200 in the entire world to own that particular pair. My favorite top-seller is our Bedford denim (still available on Kazbah in size 40), which is a slim cut cotton denim in a khaki color, contrasted with black detailing on the side and back. The Bedford’s were my go to jeans since they gave a unique twist to any outfit I wore, especially a basic tee. Our eyewear is also very popular. We have some timeless pieces such as the 440L Shades and the Fulton, which have been favorites so we will be re-releasing them at the end of summer 2014!
4) Where do you get your inspiration from?
There isn’t one specific place or ideology that we use for inspiration. The inspiration changes just as the seasons do. Sometimes old military fabrics will be the inspiration, and other times vintage women’s patterns will inspire us. We take whatever we are inspired by and give it a BKB twist, adding some contrast and street style to it. Whatever the end result is, we make sure it’s unique. Our designs must be street yet classy at the same time, which is sometimes difficult but we get it done.
5) What’s your creative process like? Any rituals?
We just like to keep a clear head to let our creativity do its thing. The weeks before we go into our designing process, we like to browse what’s popular in different countries around the world, and what type of textiles and cuts they are currently into. We’ll also watch old school international music videos, especially Bollywood. They surprisingly had some classy and fly style back in the 60’s and 70’s!
6) What’s different about Brooklyn Bandit today compared to when you guys first got into designing clothing and accessories?
When we started the brand, we just had a passion for the streetwear industry, and the drive to make it happen, but not much schooling in fashion. As the years have passed, we’ve learned tons of new techniques on designing and perfecting fits. When we started, we pretty much told our manufacturer how we wanted the fit to be, and he/she would cut based on our specs. Now in 2014, we have more detailed cuts, which we cut ourselves, which is something that has been learned along the way. Our designing and manufacturing team is a lot more knowledgeable about fabrics, so we know which fabrics will shrink and which will lose color after washing. This ultimately allows us to provide an amazing product for the customer. We’re still learning and improving our craft, but we have come a long way.
7) If you could have any celebrity spokesperson, who would it be and why?
The thing with celebrities is that they have millions of dollars to spend on whatever they like. It’s always an amazing feeling to see a celebrity rocking something that we made. It’s surreal. But what feels even better is walking in Manhattan on a random Friday night and seeing a person walking on the street wearing Brooklyn Bandit. We love to see everyday people spending their hard earned money to wear BKB, and when any company has everyday people as their spokespeople, it speaks volumes. Obviously having a celebrity who has millions of followers wear the brand is a good look, and we’ve been blessed to have a few A-list artists rock our denim on stage, but it’s just a different feeling seeing a customer wear the brand. They may not have millions of followers, but they do have friends who have friends, and that word of mouth is what slowly but surely grows the brand.
8) So…What’s next for you guys? Anything new coming up we should know about?
We’re going to keep making unique denim and bottoms, which you won’t find at your local Macys or Levis store. We’re going to keep introducing new patterns and fits for cut and sew tops. Something that we want to get into is jewelry, so we’ve been designing some rings to start with. The hope is to create jewelry with actual diamonds and emeralds for today’s fashion forward man. A lot of jewelry that you find on the streetwear market is fake gold, or glass passed as diamonds. Obviously our price points will be higher, but we feel there is a market for real jewelry in urban fashion. At this point, it’s all just ideas that we are working to turn to reality, but be on the look-out for that toward the holidays!