Both George and Andy hail from a traditional fashion background. George worked in Milan and Paris for ten years, for a myriad of brands from CoSTUME NATIONAL to Cerruti and more. He had actually initially begun his career in tech, but quickly hated it. “So I packed my bags up, sold my car for tuition and moved to New York City,” he tells me. He went to Parsons before going on to spend a decade in the traditional fashion industry. After returning to NYC last year, George began CULT&RAIN as the culmination of brewing frustrations with the old guard of fashion.
“He and I built CULT&RAIN from ground zero,” George references Andy to me as he joins our zoom call. Andy boasts an incredibly impressive career as well, having worked for brands from Margiela to 7 For All Mankind, just to name a few. “Now, we’re trying to make history with CULT&RAIN,” George tells me.
George and Andy both tell me about how their careers informed an overall frustration with the mechanics and bureaucracy of traditional fashion. From the outdated calendar system to the department store pipeline, I’ve heard many of their qualms repeated by others in contemporary fashion. "My last season in Paris, I was just like, ‘Man what am I doing? Why am I designing another collection for runway as if we don’t have enough clothes out there?’”
“It was built out of frustration,” George tells me. Burned out from designing clothing and a lifelong sneakerhead, George initially wanted to produce sneakers. When he had moved back to NYC, his wife made him sell some of sneaker collection (much to his dismay). StockX disappointingly told him some of his coveted pieces were fake. As someone pretty well equipped to verify authenticity on his own, this moment sparked an idea for a way to truly validate authenticity.
The initial idea for CULT&RAIN was to create a line of luxury sneakers, produced in Italy, each with an NFC chip inside tied to the blockchain for ownership authentication. The chips aren’t in this first run of shoes (it’s difficult to explain and integrate the kind of technology to Italian factories that have been producing luxury goods the same way for decades), but that initial concept is what led to C&R’s genesis sneaker drop.
So when NFTs began booming last year, George saw the craze as an opportunity to crowd source funds to eventually build the sneaker model. “I wanted to do ultra luxury, ultra niche, ultra scarcity. The Supreme model, on steroids,” he chuckles to me. So they created the first collection and sold 1,406 sneaker NFTs at .5 ETH each, giving C&R the initial capital needed to start building the rest of George’s ideas.
"If RTFKT is Supreme, we want to be like Balenciaga,” George tells me as he shows me the incredible physical prototype of their first sneaker. "I spend half my time on product," he goes on, adding: "Creating sneakers from 0 is impossible basically." Their original collection sold to customers in 41 countries. Couple that with the numerous supply chain issues going on right now, and the shipment of the physical shoes has been delayed a bit.