BRO PLUTO & COMPOUND GALLERY
The clothing brand, Bro Pluto, was created by 25 year-old emerging fashion designer, Jordan Carter, who started his passion at 16 years old at Parkrose High School in Portland, Oregon. While attending Parkrose he learned to work with a variety of design software while in the IT Academy (part of the school’s curriculum at the time). The curriculum helped him eventually narrow down the type of design he wanted to focus on. After high-school, Carter decided to attend University of Oregon where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and minor in Economics. Despite the criticism that goes along with pursuing a career in the creative industry he had made the courageous decision to not work a typical 9-5 job. "I would not want to work for a company and they have the power to fire me at-will. I've seen [people] get fired after giving the company 30 years of their life. I would never want to be in the position where someone can kind of control my outcome."
When asked if Bro Pluto was his first brand he stated, "I [started] with another brand, it’s called 'Chief' we did that for three years. That started in college, my sophomore year in college up until I graduated." He added, "It kind of taught me the ins and outs for my own brand.” The birth of Bro Pluto started off when he designed patches and put them on a couple of shirts. He managed rap artist Tre Redeau, and designed for his tour, “All his merchandise, banners…that kind of birthed Bro Pluto.”
The uniquely designed patch quickly created a buzz. Although Carter was taking a brief break from designing after leaving Chief, the popularity of the patch sparked the interest of Carter going back into the fashion world. “It started off with patches [and] evolved into a clothing line. I just threw the patches on a couple of shirts to get the name out there for Bro Pluto and then it became a full clothing brand,” Carter stated.
The term “Casual Professionals” is the term that Carter came up with to describe his customers, “I call them casual professionals. Because a lot of people are professionals nowadays and it’s basically another word for entrepreneur. I feel like a lot of people won’t fit in the desk job or suit and tie, so I want to be able to create fashion that is on par with the professionals but still allows you to have that casual feel to it.”
Carter discussed the importance of collaborating with other artists versus working internally, “I think it is very important to branch out. I think there is two ways to go about it. You either work with other artists internally who are already on your team and don’t really go outside of it to stay consistent. Or, like me, I like to collaborate with other artists because then [I can] do my own artwork and then I always get inspired by their artwork. I also get a bit of their market and they get a bit of my market.” He adds, “I’d rather go that route. I think it’s better to branch out then to stay within.”
The Bro Pluto brand has only been in existence for about a year and has already grown quickly in popularity, “I feel blessed. I had already hit a lot of milestones that I have been trying to hit for the last three years with my initial brand,” Carter stated. In the past year Bro Pluto brand has made many accomplishments, the up-and-coming collaboration with Levi’s would be the biggest accomplishment thus far, “Once they accept it, Levi will be the biggest collaboration. They are talking about sponsoring or possibly helping me out with my next exhibit. Other than them, OU:RS brand is based in L.A. designed by Shezi and he is actually a really big name brand right now that is coming up.” Other than those collaborations, Bro Pluto has been collaborating with many local brands and artists within the music, art and fashion industry.
Along with Carter’s extensive work building his clothing line and work within the music industry he recently landed the position as in-house designer for Compound Gallery located in downtown Portland. When asked how he got connected with Compound Gallery he stated, “I originally just walked in talked to [the management at the time] and asked what can I provide for a look book, and that’s how I got the brand in here. But then later on working with Colby [manager], we just became friends and they helped me get a positon here. Now I’m more involved with the store.”
The manager of Compound Gallery is, Colby Cox, “I typically oversee the team building and make sure everything is running properly. I also do the head buying here where I oversee all of the clothing that comes in the store and knowing what to bring to the store as far as product goes.” Cox has known the owner of the company, Katsu, for about seven years, “For the last eight years I worked with the jewelry company ‘Sticks and Stones’ through that I met him [Katsu] and been shopping [at Compound Gallery] since I was a kid. I came in ‘the shadows’ about a year ago to do a little bit of team building and help revive this place and bring back the luster it used to have. And through that I ended up realizing how much effort and time this place needed to be fixed. And it ended up being a full time project and now I’m here.”
When Cox came into his position as manager at Compound Gallery he wanted to work with the Bro Pluto brand, “I wanted to work with Jordan because his product and creativity behind it really spoke for itself. There is not a lot of diversity in this industry and his [Jordan’s] stuff just really stands out and seems special. You can tell there was effort put in the creation of it as well as the marketing behind it.” Cox added, “I chose to keep him around and working with him because I though [his brand] was something special and not vague or boring. Jordan is basically another part of the family pretty much.”
Compound Gallery can be described as the staple of streetwear in Portland, “We have a lot of streetwear orientated customers. But it’s pretty diverse in here. We get a lot of guys who are into sneakers and that is their thing, [as well as] skaters, then we get the guys who are die hard streetwear. Really I don’t think there is one Compound customer, which is really cool about this place because it is so diverse with the brands and styles that we carry. You see all walks of life coming in here basically.”
One of the most popular brands sold at Compound Gallery is Stussy, Nike and Huff just to name a few. As far as local brands go, “We have a couple of local brands that do really well for us and match some of the numbers that the bigger brands put up and that is Tabor Made and Trillblazin.” Another collaboration that Compound Gallery will also be doing is with the CLSC Brand which is based in Los Angeles.
ADVICE FROM BRO PLUTO
What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career within the creative industry? Carter responded, "My main thing is to be yourself. Just because I feel like a lot of people try to impress others and aren't even themselves. And that's when they start to fail. Trust your gut, trust your instinct because you know what's right. The people that you are asking for opinions don't see your vision and don't know what you are trying to do. So when you ask for advice they are only going to give it to you from their perspective.” How should an aspiring fashion designer deal with the criticism? “Don't always go on what other people say about you, your brand and ideas. Take it with a grain of salt. Take what you need from it [criticism] but never let it define you. Because at the end of the day if you are being yourself, the people who support you will come. It's just how it works.”
Carter also mentioned the importance of distancing yourself rom negative energy in your life, “If you are really serious about your brand or about whatever you are doing in your life then you just have to let it go or else it will continue to hold you back. And that is as simple as it gets. You just have to let it go. As bad as it sounds....when things don't align or if there is negativity you just have to let it go. Because if you dwell on it for a year it will still be there or you can just let it go and be productive and be better."
Also some words of advice from Carter, is to use social media as a marketing tool, “Social media is very important but you need to understand that it is a marketing tool. Take it as marketing only, never get emotional over it, never do it for the ‘likes.’ Use it literally as a marketing platform.” He adds, “Even if someone posts something negative, I never let it affect me personally. [If] it is all good comments and feedback then it's a better look overall but do not get sucked into social media being real life.”
Carter wears his brand for marketing purposes and to get feedback, “I wear [my brand] every day. I think it is one of the most important things is to wear your brand when you’re a designer.” He adds, “You don't have to necessarily wear the items that are released. I wear items that I prototyped, sampled. And I do that because I get feedback in real time. I always wear one item that is mine just to wear it and it's usually not released. When someone compliments it I know that it's a good item. Or if someone is saying they really like something, I know that it is really feedback. I release the items that get the best feedback. I wear a sample everyday just to get the feedback."
When asked what he would like to do five years from now Carter stated, “I would like to create a ‘mezzanine’ that is going to be my creative central for Bro Pluto.” He adds, “And it is going to probably be the biggest creative store ever seen in my opinion and my dreams.” The vision for his store would be to feature fashion, art and music specifically, “It’ll probably be the first of its kind [and will] strictly focus on creative outlets. I want to co-sign brands, I want to sell art, almost like a tourist attraction. I want to have a club, the whole nine yards where you can just come and vibe with the artists in the shop, have a couple of drinks in the lounge maybe and just get inspired.”
When asked if he would like to branch outside of Portland for his brand he stated, “I want [my brand] to stay here [in Portland]. I would never open up a flagship store anywhere else. So if I was going to have to open up another mezzanine then it would have to be international. I wouldn’t want it to be anywhere else but Portland. The only other place that it would be is in another country.” Carter acknowledged his respect for his hometown and the reason why keeping his brand in Portland is important to him, “I just couldn’t see myself opening up in other states because I feel like Portland is what molded me.” He added, “At the same time, I do want to have a couple of size runs at other stores that I align with. I’m in talks with an international store that I feel like is a version of a mezzanine but they are doing it a little different. They are in Australia so if that works out then that will be my first international flagship.”
Check out Bro Pluto’s new collections on their website at: bropluto.com