Marc Ecko

Hip hop has its moguls. Alongside the flashiness of P Diddy and the street intelligence of Russell Simmons is Marc Ecko. In 1993, Marc Eckō Enterprises (MEE) was formed with just six t-shirt designs and a can of spray paint. Fast forward to today and Marc now sits atop a commercial and creative realm that has grown to include a bunch of eckō unltd. apparel and accessories lines like Marc Eckō Cut & Sew, Mark Eckō Watches, G-Unit Clothing Company and Zoo York to name but a few, as well as a publishing division that produces our favourite men’s street culture bible Complex, and an entertainment division that makes vid games about saving the world with graffiti.

Yet for all that, Marc keeps it real supporting several philanthropic initiatives and is the first to jump in and stick it to the man, fighting NY City Hall for the right to hold a free outdoor graffiti exhibition and going to court to defend a minor’s right to possess spray paint and broad-tipped markers. Yes, JUICE has a little Marc Ecko crush. And when the Chairman of the Board and Chief Creative Officer of Marc Eckō Enterprises answers our mail personally, boy are we are not worthy.

Interview Kevin Yeoh
Image Ecko Inc./FJ Benjamin

How you doing Mr Marc Ecko?
I’m doing great. How are you?

Dandy. Tell us what are you wearing?
Old washed vintage black cargo pants, one of my favorite t-shirts with a Chelsea Girl Poster that Warhol did and is in my Marc Eckō Collection, purple nylon windbreaker—and my white Air Jordan 3’s. I’m in travel mode. Relaxed….

We totally dig what you’ve achieved. Do you still have the t-shirts you sold pre-Eckō?
Absolutely. I’ve archived some of those old gems. They make me very nostalgic. Good vibes. Great times.

Marc Eckō Enterprises takes care of so many damn things. Which one do you have a soft spot for?
My personal art. I spend 30 percent of my time painting and running an art factory. It is entirely self indulgent. It is like keeping a diary or sitting with a psychologist. I get to just let it off my chest.

Cool. Next to JUICE magazine we love Complex. How much of it are you involved in, and as a magazine that trendspots, who and what is blowing up right now?
I’m involved enough to know that answering that could get me in trouble. 😉 I don’t offer editorial on those sorts of things. At least not on the record. 🙂

Wokay. You’ve worked with 50 Cent and Eve on various fashion lines, are there anymore collabos in the pipeline?
I’ve collaborated with a lot of interesting people over the years. I was most star struck working with George Lucas and Star Wars.

We would be too! Whose personal style do you rate?
I don’t. I’m not a pundit or a critic. I’m an artist. A designer. Whose style do I admire??? I admire Miles Davis—he had a sick sense of style. Even when he was all keyed up on stuff and abstract. So slick. Authentic.

Your watches are well bling. What do you make of people who don’t wear watches?
I’m not mad at them. Especially on a woman. That said, for men—that is a piece of “jewelry” we are all comfortable with. I’m a watch guy.

There are many budding tee designers here in Malaysia trying to make their mark. What advise can you offer them?
Be unique to the market. Truly innovate. And never be emotional about professional and creative criticism.

We know you’re a busy man, but do you have any hobbies or interests? What is Marc Ecko’s guilty pleasure?
Cooking and photography.

With a crazy schedule you must tuck into some power breakfast?
Oatmeal, blueberries, turkey sausage and coffee. I eat the same thing almost every morning.

Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure is your videogame project with MTV. Are you a big game boy? What’s your all time fave vid game?
Yes. My favorite game of all time is Tetris. It is super elegant, and at the core is what videogaming should be all about—fun, stimulating and self-competitive.

The tagline for your vid game is “What if graffiti could change the world?” Who’s graffiti do you think has the capacity to make people stop and think?
So many great philosophers came out of graff and street art. The most relevant today is Banksy, who happened to do some stuff for my game.

With the way the world is do you think there will be a swing away from all the bling and maximalism?
The bling of today will simply rebrand itself. It is an aesthetic thing indicative of a time, a moment. It really isn’t new. It’s rock n’ roll. Sort of like wearing sun glasses inside at night. That said we are mostly programmed to be self important and to want to show that off. As long as the cat and mouse between celebrity and media exists—there will be a new look for bling. It is not going away, just maybe evolving into something else.

When is Marc Eckō going eco-friendly?
Who said I’m not? Have you seen my recyclables? As a company—my cause is around education. I care about the environment a lot, but my social emphasis is on America’s education system. Our dropout crisis is no joke. We ranked 16th in the world. Crazy. We’d never let our army be 16th—but our schools, somehow that’s okay?

Them is fighting words. Who gets your vote this coming election?
Barack Obama.

The Eckō logo is a rhino. We’re pretty partial to rhinos too what with a few of them roaming wild in Malaysian jungles. What have you learned about these animals?
I’ve learned to lean my head away, rather than lean in, while feeding them. One time I was feeding a baby rhino cantaloupe, and he lifted his head up gently, which was enough to almost send me to the hospital.

While we don’t have money to drop to save rhinos like you did (Marc bought two to save them from being shot ), how do you suggest the average person go about making an impact?
The average person can make an impact by simply being conscious of their plight, and caring enough to cry out against poaching and wars that threaten their homes.

You’ve achieved so much and at only 36 this year, what else have you got on your to do list?
35 years old. I had to correct you. ;). My to do list is the same everyday. “Be inspired”.

Finally, finish this. If I weren’t answering stupid interview questions, I’d probably be….
Getting some exercise and listening to an audio book. Trying to make up for my stupid answers. 😉

Thanks Marc! You rule!

Log onto www.marceckotime.com for more information on the latest fantabulous Marc Eckō watches. Marc Eckō Time is available in Malaysia through all good watch dealers and is distributed by FJ Benjamin.