Cleveland is hardly considered a fashion hub. But Sean Bilovecky believed he could change that when he launched his fashion label Wrath Arcane in 2006. The contemporary menswear designer decided to stick to his roots rather than bolt for New York or Los Angeles.
I had a chance to speak with him after the Wrath Arcane Spring 2008 launch party at Clothing Brigade in Cleveland Heights, and he had a lot of insight on what it is like to run a hip street wear label out of the Midwest.
“Being from and based in Cleveland has influenced what we have to say as a label,” Bilovecky said. “It’s like the Cleveland of the past is coming back to life and having an impact on apparel production again.”
The former student of Kent State’s Fashion School managed to globalize his brand just two years after its conception, with his label appearing in stores across the United States, Canada and Japan. Even with an international following, Bilovecky has kept the production of Wrath Arcane at home in the Midwest.
“I would have to say our biggest achievement is hearing our accounts from all over the world say that their customers are starting to care about where their clothes are made,” Bilovecky said about U.S. production. “Customers are buying Wrath Arcane over more established and ‘trendy’ brands that are made in crap conditions.”
Embracing the motto, “Big Labels Are Fucked,” the brand exemplifies the notion of truly independent fashion. The words Wrath Arcane mean “secret anger,” an impression brought on by the frustrations of big labels running the world. Bilovecky believes in building a brand that will make the clothing industry better, especially for its home in Cleveland Heights.
“Cleveland used to be the second biggest garment producing city in the United States,” Bilovecky said. “Poor corporate leadership and greedy unions took this all away. Now look at Cleveland. It’s a mess.”
Developing a brand that means so much to Bilovecky is the best part about acting as his own boss. While working under his own rules, Wrath Arcane has turned into one of the fastest growing independent menswear lines in the United States.
“We all feel really lucky to be doing exactly what we want to do,” Bilovecky said.
The menswear collection includes slim-fit, cropped denim and dress shirts with unique snap-off harnesses. The Quiver Trench, worn by the designer at the Spring 2008 release party, features a snap-off quiver pocket, designed after pouches archers used to stow their arrows.Owning a street wear label that is hip and innovative takes more of an effort than some may think. But in the end, the rewards of running a successful business greatly outweigh the struggles.
“Most importantly, you have to be able to appreciate when times are good,” Bilovecky said. “Let the ‘ups’ define you and your company, not the ‘downs’.”
PHOTOS: Wrath Arcane