Parlayin with Greg Rivera (Mishka)

April 26, 2011

8 years and still goin’ strong, Mishka was founded by Greg and Mikhail back in 2003 and have now become a global streetwear label. We got a chance to chop it up with Greg and talk about how Mishka started, it’s present state and the future of the label. Check it.

Hey Greg … What’s weird?
Weird Tales. Weird War. Weird Al.

Pop corn and ice cream or Deep fried Mars bars?
I once had this ice cream with chocolate covered popcorn in it!

Mishka = bear cub in Russian

We at Fat Kids cannot live without toys, greasy food, and topless girls running around in our office, what about you?
I cannot live without toys around my office for sure.

When you guys started in 2003, did you ever imagine the bear cub growing this ginormous?
I never could have imagined it.

Its never an easy task starting a label without any prior experience or help from anyone… tell us your story.
I met Mikhail back in 2002 after moving to NYC from Florida. I got really into going to the “streetwear” boutiques in NYC, (Supreme, Alife, SSUR, Union, etc) I was also really inspired by the street art that I saw around town and started to draw (doodle) a lot.

Mike told me that he wanted to start his own brand and asked if I would help him do it. Because we were into the same shit, it was a great marriage of ideas and experiences to create the brand that you see today.

We’ve seen labels come and go through the years, but Mishka seems to be getting stronger by the year… what do you guys eat on the daily to get so strong?
We also eat a lot of space cakes.

Speaking of growing stronger, the recent DART collection looks really dope. Care to break down the influences, ideas and creative direction for that collection?
We pretty much do whatever John Prolly tells us to do. That skull shirt that says DART was found in some old ad of a motorcycle magazine.

After working with Mikhail for over 8 years… how has he influenced you and your take on life?
Mikhail saved my life (and my soul). Many people don’t know this but Mikahil is a born again Christian. After meeting him, my life is no longer my own since now, Jesus Chris is Lord !

While we’re on that subject… care to break down the dynamics/roles between both of you when working?
We argue a lot. I tried to lock him in a closet once from a suggestion from an owner of another streetwear brand. But he escaped. Now our relationship is like that of Chunk and Sloth.

I’d be satisfied with owning one retail store, let alone three and plans for more? How do you keep you head above water and what drives/motivates you to continuously expand globally?
I would like to open 100 more stores. Know any investors? We are totally driven and motivated by money. How much we can obtain, and what we have to do to make it. I told my Mom when I was a kid that one day I would buy her a Lamborghini. So that’s has been and currently is my #1 priority.

Expansion is indeed a scary venture because it involves a lot more people, planning and funds, but how do you cope with growing your brand/collection, whilst expanding your retial outlets? Is there a secret mantra you mime on the daily or…?
I am just hoping that no one finds the old man hiding behind the curtain. Ya dig?

Dope idea of starting a records label… What inspired that venture and what future plans have you got for it?
My all time icon and idol is Suge Knight. I just hope that one day I can hold someone off a balcony cause they owe me money.

The original idea was to put out 7 inches by bands that we liked and package them with a t-shirt. We thought that it would be a good way to expose a band to our audience.
Music is also a huge part of our brand, and we thought no other fashion brand is really putting out actually physical records.
We come from a punk/diy background where the only way you could hear a new band is from someone setting up a “distro” at a punk show or if someone gave you a record to listen to.
We sort of wanted to recreate that idea of the collecting records, and putting something tangible to the music.
Now that we started selling the songs digitally, its has become more and more like a real record label.

I’m sure a lot of Mishka fans would like to know what you guys have got up your sleeves for the 2nd half of 2011 and also 2012… care to give us a sneak peek?
We have a bunch of sick collabs lined up. Of course I can’t share any! Duh!

Life motto’s, everyone’s got one…what’s yours?
“Everyone has to wear clothes, if you don’t, youll get arrested!”

On a lighter topic… If you were a 70’s porn star, what would you alias be and why?
Cokey Brown. Cause I love Cocaine!

Whats your all time favorite movie?
Garbage Pail Kids the Movie! If you have seen it then you know why!

Whats on heavy rotation on your stereo at the moment?
Crass, Subhumans, Twin Shadow, Death in June, Das Racsit, The Death Set

Thanks heaps for your time Greg and we wish you all the very best with Mishka. Please send our regards to Mikhail and we look forward to seeing you guys kill it and take things to the next level soon. Keep on inspiring.

Words by Benny Teh

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