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We Are All Human

HUMAN is clothing brand based out of Des Moines, Iowa that everyone should be paying attention to. We spoke with the founder Miller about his experience starting the brand three years ago and building the initial following with local popups to now getting recognized by some of the biggest names in fashion and collaborating with the likes of B.B. Simons. In addition, we also spoke with Miller about building his own personal label, "Made by Miller" and doing cut and sew production for Ransom, how Adam22 ended up rocking the Human x B.B. belt, and his plans to continue spreading the message behind Human and develop himself into a creative genius that can one day be recognized on the same level as the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Virgil Abloh, and Kanye West.

Where are you from?

Miller: I’m 20 years old and I’m from Des Moines, Iowa. I started getting into fashion design when I was 17 years old. I’d always been doing graphic design work since I was 12. I started as a professional magician believe it or not. I made my own logo and my own business cards and through that process I got an understanding of what graphic design was. I eventually grew out of magic and I wasn’t too focused on graphic design for a period. I started getting into sewing and creating and printing my own stuff, but I really found a true passion for sewing. So I’ve been doing a lot of that lately as well as releasing weekly drops with Human.

How did you originally get into magic?

Miller: I have chronic pain and chronic nausea so I had to miss out on a lot of school and sports growing up. Magic was one of those things when laying down in bed or at home that I could still do. All I needed was a deck of cards or a coin, so it kept me busy and occupied. I wasn’t feeling well and I couldn’t go out and do a whole lot, so it provided me with an outlet to be creative and keep things flowing. Magic took off for me and I became a professional magician. I was doing a lot of corporate events for Wells Fargo, Bankers Trust, and other top corporate companies. But with my health issues shows were getting difficult to do so it was a little rough time that I eventually grew out of. To keep my creativity going I found a passion for designing and made my first handful of Human designs. Throughout this time I really found that it doesn’t matter who you are as a person, where you come from, the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, political views, whatever it is. We’re all human. That’s the meaning behind Human and the message we’re trying to push as a brand.

When did you start Human Clothing?

Miller: I started Human when I was 17, so about three years ago. Originally I started it as just a local clothing line. I was really one of the first people in Iowa to be doing something like that. There’s really no fashion or sneaker scene or even really a hip hop scene in Iowa, so it’s pretty difficult to keep things going but now the culture’s starting to change. The past handful of years there’s been a whole lot of good stuff happening around Iowa.

What’s the inspiration behind the name?

Miller: I had my own troubles growing up, getting through life, dealing with people and stuff like that. I actually went through rehab and going through rehab I came up with the idea. We all deserve redemption, we’re all human.

What made you want to start a clothing brand?

Miller: Around that time I was getting really involved with my own personal style. For the longest time I was dressing based on how my brothers dressed. But then I started trying to develop my own personal style and was able to express myself more. I transformed from wearing sweats and normal shirts to wearing jeans and extended length T-shirts. I was doing basic stuff like that and started enjoying what I was doing with my appearance. I really enjoyed how it was making me feel since I was finally walking with a pep in my step, looking good, and feeling good. It was probably around age 14 or so that I started getting some money from doing magic. I decided that I didn’t really like brand name stuff where I’d have to spend $60 a week on a T-shirt and a couple hundred on new shoes, so I started thinking of what I would like and I realized I could just make it myself.

What was the inspiration behind the shirt you dropped this week?

Miller: For a while we’ve been working with a couple designers named Danny who goes by @danknyc and @j0rdanjones. Jordan lives in Iowa too but not in my same city. We’re doing 12 weeks of weekly drops and Jordan has helped out putting a lot of time and effort into the drops each week. Currently we’re on week 6 and the design for this week was created by Jordan. Originally we were going through a bunch of old pictures on his hard drive of catalogs, and we saw a cool picture of an old cartoon car with some people poking out of it. It had this cool space text too and the cartoon had this 80’s vintage style to it so that’s where we got the original inspiration for the design.

Where did you come up with the idea to do a release every week?

Miller: Before we started pushing social media really hard we were a local brand where we were doing monthly popup collections. I would design a collection, we would produce everything and then once a month I’d rent out a location around town and we’d bring in an artist and throw this little popup party for the collection. We had a great turnout and response with all those popups, however continuing to rent out and find places around our area made the lifespan of that business model short lived. With the work of Jordan, Danny, and myself we have 100’s of quality designs sitting in a vault. Since we have all this content we wanted to start pushing it out, so we decided to spread out the releases every week for three months. We’ve had some difficulty figuring out how to convert local in-person shoppers to the online route, but we’ve been developing a new fanbase online.

Talk about your release from last week. What was the inspiration behind the pieces on that release?

Miller: We had three pieces on that release that Jordan also designed. Believe it or not, the one that looks like Japanese or Korean text is actually just a whole bunch of different shapes created in photoshop layered on top of each other to give it a 3D effect. It doesn't mean anything at all since it isn’t any particular language but the shapes give it an effect that looks like a language which I find funny and pretty unique. We’ve done stuff with Japanse text and sayings in the past but this time it was a little different and I really liked the approach. It doesn’t mean anything but you still get a hint of asian culture behind it. The sunset color makes it feel like you’re sitting in Tokyo watching a sunset.

Which one was your favorite from that release?

Miller: The white T-shirt with the front and back print. We really wanted to see how big we could make a back print with that one. That’s one of my favorite shirts that we’ve released. I like that it takes up the whole back and it looks unreal in person.

What made you come out to LA this summer?

Miller: This past summer I was one of seven people chosen to go out and study under Amy Bond from season 16 of Project Runway. It was held at the Otis College of Art and Design out in LA. I learned so much while I was there and we did a ton of stuff. It was all hands on from 8 AM to 2 AM with lectures, sewing, and doing other crazy stuff. I created some really cool pieces while I was there. Ideally what I would like to do alongside Human is to continue building my own personal label as well called “Made by Miller” which is all hand-made, avant-garde pieces that are hand-sewn.

What makes you want to establish your own personal brand in addition to Human?

Miller: I love the message behind Human and everything it stands for, however T-shirts and hoodies aren’t necessarily my favorite thing in fashion. I really like to create extravagant runway style pieces with that avant-garde look. A lot of people can get into creating T-shirts, however I feel like it takes another level of patience and practice to actually sew and create the garments themselves. To me it’s more artistic and it allows my creativity to flow a little more naturally. When I’m sitting behind a sewing machine I'm looking at this piece of fabric and in my mind I already have a coat sewed up. I then get to see it finalized and finished in a couple of days which is beautiful to me.

Did you get into cut and sew around the same time as you started Human?

Miller: It was about a year after. My grandma is actually a seamstress and an incredible sewer, so one year for Christmas I got a pair of pants and my grandma and I customized them together. We sewed some bandanas into it and made some cool rips. That pair of pants we made are still my favorite pair that I own. That experience really created a spark inside of me. Right when I got home I bought a sewing machine and started to go crazy. I mainly taught myself on Youtube but it’s been a lot of fun. It’s difficult and it takes a lot of patience. Personally I’m not a patient person so it’s improved me a lot because it’s forced me to become more patient.

Where did you come up with the idea for the “Never Miss” hoodie?

Miller: That was one of our first hits since it was one of the first pieces that we saw some nice numbers on. I used to live in an apartment where I had a sewing machine, vinyl cutter and heat press in the bathroom, and my co-owner of Human Rylan would come over every day and we’d hang out in that bathroom working. Our execution was really perfect on a lot of the things we were doing, and we’d always say “never miss, aim for the head, don’t take anything less” referring to the fact that we had this shot and didn’t want to miss it. That became our motto and one day on the vinyl cutter I got a cross hair design and typed up “never miss” and put it on a crew neck as a sample. We posted it and got great responses, so we decided to throw it in the next collection. We did a popup collection and had a total of 200 pieces and that piece itself sold out in 45 minutes. That was incredible for us at the time, since we were supposed to be there from 12-7 and we weren’t expecting to sell out of anything. But within two hours we were sold out of almost everything except for a few designs. It was awesome.

Was there actually a live mini billboard to promote it?

Miller: No I just created that.

You did a live runway showcase at the Des Moines Style Show, correct?

Miller: Yeah that was the first runway show that we did. It was put on by a woman in town named Tyra who’s really involved in the fashion industry we have around here. We had seven models that were showcased in the fashion show. Each model was wearing one of the B.B. Simon belts and a creative piece by Made by Miller. A lot of them were also wearing our basic Human tees, and it was overall a great experience. I learned a lot about how to put on runway shows and how to get involved. It was perfect timing because I go to a local community college and at the time I was in a fashion class where we actually got to put on a fashion show. So it was really cool timing for me to do a fashion show and then actually be able to set up my own and run it.

What appeals to you about live events and runway shows?

Miller: Live events appeal to me a lot because I really like experiences. If I’m gonna buy a T-shirt I want there to be a reason for why I’m buying it. Not just because the design is cool and I want to support the person making it, but I want to go out and do something. In Iowa there’s not a whole lot to do, so whenever there’s an event it’s an excuse to get out of the house. I’m really into live experiences and being able to have something that lasts a lot longer than a T-shirt. The memory of a great experience might last forever versus just having a T-shirt that you might grow out of. One of our ways that we started our growth in Iowa was actually participating in live events in the area. The very first Human popup I did was at a small sneaker convention in town. I set up a booth and had a run of T-shirts with a cool yin-yang logo printed on the back. I had like 24 shirts and only sold two of them at that event. I was so discouraged at first but I remembered how good it felt to sell the two shirts because it was someone purchasing my art and ideas. I loved that feeling so I just stuck with it and it started to pick up eventually. We try to get a stand at a lot of concerts that happen around town. Anytime there's a local performer the majority of the time we’ll have a stand selling stuff at the show. We brought Smokepurpp in for a show where we put up a big stand. I had a pair of Yeezys that we made into Human Yeezys and I gave them to Smokepurpp and he was wearing them around for a while after.

Should we expect to see more live events for Human Clothing in the future?

Miller: Oh yes 100%. I’d like to do a full Human concert which I think would be incredible and I’d like to do more popups outside of Iowa in LA or Chicago.

How did the belt collab with B.B. Simon happen?

Miller: If you’re in the fashion industry that’s a name that you probably already know, so I’d known about B.B. for a long time. One day I was on IG and saw they only had like 2k followers at the time so I shot him a DM about a collab that I’d already created mockups for. I didn’t hear anything back so I messaged him again and finally they sent me an email. I sent the mockups to him in an email and I got a response where at the bottom it was signed by B.B. Simon with his phone number. Immediately I grabbed my phone and called it and he answered. I started telling him what I was about and he told me that he really enjoyed my work and the message behind my brand. After numerous phone calls and conversations he finally agreed to doing the collab. We only made 12 belts but all of them were hand made in their Orange County location in California. As we finished up making them my plane landed and I got a rental car and drove up to his store. He gave me a tour, gave me the belts and we took a picture and talked for a while. Besides Robins Jeans I believe he’s only done one other official collab which was with Section8. I’m very blessed and honored to have been able to do that collaboration with him. At the time it seemed extremely far fetched but when he sent over all the paperwork it was really a wakeup call that made me believe that I could do anything I wanted. B.B. Simon is a dude selling belts and mirrors to Oprah Winfrey and people like that so it’s crazy since he’s been in the fashion scene for 40 plus years.

How did Adam22 end up rocking the Human x B.B. belt?

Miller: I had just finished the collab with Simon and was out in California for 10 days. Every day I would go into the “OnSomeShit” store and ask for Adam in hopes of gifting him a HUMAN x B.B. Simon belt. Finally, on the last day the man working the front of the store said “okay check the live stream” so I pulled out my phone and saw the man go in the back room and give him the belt. Adam put on the belt and then posted it on Instagram. Months later I was studying out at Otis and that’s when I saw the video of him talking about the belt. The next day I took an Uber to the OnSomeShit store and walked in. The employee said “oh shit you're the Human guy” and brought Adam out. We then talked for a few minuets and took a picture together. Nothing crazy happened or anything, but it was a great experience and a great stepping stone.

Are there any other mediums, garments or accessories you want to experiment with?

Miller: Yeah, I really want to make some bracelets and I would love to make key rings. We just got our logo trademarked so I’d love to get some key rings made with the “anarchy H” logo. But before I do that I’d like to talk with William from Hard Jewelry about his thoughts on that so that there aren’t any conflicts with what he’s doing. I want to continue making cut and sew pieces and I think it’d be cool to integrate those pieces into Human drops for a premium price. I also really want to use reflective material. I know it’s been done a million times but I think it’d be really cool to combine them and do a bunch of stuff with that. My co-owner Rylan also does painting since he has a creative side outside of Human where he does acrylic paintings in a “pour” style, where he puts paint into cups and pours it onto the canvas. It creates really cool shapes so I think it’d be really cool to find a way to do that to T-shirts.

You also do cut and sew production for Ransom, correct?

Miller: Yeah, recently I haven’t done that much work for Jonny. However, in the past couple months I was commissioned to create a couple of coats which you can find on my personal page. Those were futuristic looking coats that I made using reflective material. I was commissioned to make two of those and also a line of cut and sew all-over print Ransom T-shirts. I really enjoyed making those. We used an industrial sized sublimation printer which painted giant sheets of polyester material with their logo all over it. I cut out T-shirt shapes from fabric and sewed up the shirts. The one thing I really liked about the shirts was that there was only two seams, one sewing up the left side and one sewing up the right. There wasn’t really a collar on them which was pretty cool. I’ve also made a couple pairs of pants as well using their fabric.

How did you end up landing that role?

Miller: With my own private label Made by Miller I try to create something new every day. I’ll create something and take lots of pictures of it. About once a month I’ll go through my social media and try to get in contact with people that are influential to me and people that I think would really enjoy what I’m creating and benefit from my work. The first prototype was on a vinyl material that made a really loud crinkling noise. I originally sent that reflective coat to Kerwin Frost. He’d seen some of my messages but had never replied, but when I sent the coat he responded to my message with something like “cruffle gang that’s a really sick coat” and he said “that coat cruffles.” After that I started sending it to a lot of different people and Jonny really appreciated it. I started sending him my other work and he gave me his phone number. From there we started talking more and I sent him a picture of the coat I made with an AK47 where I had put 2000 off sea crystals on the wooden part. He said he wanted to hire me after that and the next day he assigned me to make the jacket and some pants and shirts. First I had to make the fabric and then I made the shirts. It was really cool.

What’s your favorite brand or creative you’ve worked with so far?

Miller: Honestly it’s B.B. Simon. Just because of the respect of the level I’m trying to get into in the fashion industry for myself since he’s in a position that I’d love to be in. Maybe not present day, but B.B. Simon 10 years ago. That’s the exact position where I’d like to be as a fashion designer with Made by Miller so I really look up to B.B. Simon in that respect. This man made a name for himself by himself, and his name is a powerful one in the fashion industry. It wasn’t just a streetwear brand. His name allowed him to get into anything he wanted in Paris, Milan, New York, ect. I don’t think some of the largest streetwear brands get invited to stuff like Paris fashion week and deals like that. That’s ideally the position that I’d like to be at with Made by Miller.

Are there any other brands or designers you want to work with?

Miller: I’d love to work with Dylan from WWY. That man is so funny and he’s doing incredible stuff. I’d love to work with Sam from Half Evil obviously, and Georrge Olivier. He makes insane custom pieces and I love his shorts. I know he does a lot of cut and sew work. I’d also like to work with Vira Exclusive. This past winter they had an amazing collection that I fell in love with. They had some head masks that cover part of the face which I thought was magnificent. As well as Westside Apparel, they make a ton of custom clothing that’s really incredible. Probably the biggest name that I’d like to work with is Asspizza since I get a lot of inspiration from him. He made those patchwork jeans that I thought were awesome. I’m currently working on my own bandana patchwork jeans made from hundreds of different bandanas all sewn together. It’s taking a while but it’ll hopefully be done soon.

What should we expect to see next from you as a personal designer and Human Clothing?

Miller: After these 12 weeks were gonna slow down on our drops for a bit. We’ll probably take a month off and then start dropping once every 2-3 weeks. The releases will be five piece minimums with tees, hoodies, pants and shorts or accessories. For me personally, I’m gonna be moving out of Iowa and moving into the LA area in January. I have a couple internships lined up where I’m gonna be working with Amy Bond and hopefully solidifying my relationship with B.B. Simon.

What do you want to be known for at the end of the day and what do you want Human Clothing to become?

Miller: At the end of the day I want Human to be a respectable brand that people know has a meaning and purpose. I don’t want it to go unknown and serve no purpose to somebody. Currently, I know people that are supporters that live by the motto of Human that are getting “Human” tattooed across their body. We have a demographic of people in high school and people a little bit older that have gone through difficulties in their lives, whether it be from bullying or self harming, but all of them stick by the meaning of Human and hold it dearly to their hearts. I’d like the message of Human to touch as many of those types of people as we can because Human helped me and gave me a great understanding of the people around me and the world that I live in. So I really want the meaning and ideology of Human to be spread. Honestly, I don’t care about the brand itself but I want the meaning behind it to be spread. If a T-shirt is what reminds somebody that’s cool but I want the message to be spread one way or another For myself, I’d like to be remembered as a high end runway designer in the short term, and in the long term somebody along the lines of Karl Lagerfeld from Chanel or Virgil Abloh or Kanye West. Personally, if I could become such a creative genius and mastermind like those guys that would be incredible.

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