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Sorry Babe, I Gotta JET

Coming at you live from California is clothing designer entrepreneur & genius, Mike Brando. Is he related to Marlon Brando? No. Is he the co-founder of Jet clothing brand that encompasses a style all its own? Yes, yes he is. Mike Brando is a friend of mine, and his passion for designing clothes and evolving his brand Jet is astounding. I decided to interview him to find out more about him as a designer and Jet as a clothing brand.

Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your educational background? What is something you enjoy doing on a daily basis?

Raised in Gurnee until I moved to Chicago, which I consider to be my true home. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design from the American Academy of Art (but they don’t deserve any credit for my talents or success). Now that I live in LA I enjoy skimboarding or riding waves in the ocean. My work days consist of constant music, lots of food and playing soccer while on business calls. The favorite part of life is laughing with friends.

What was your drive behind creating Jet?

Jet evolved from the screen-printing company that I work for, ink’n tees. We were ready to take on a new type of apparel creation in which we create something personal rather than having the consumer telling us what to create. Jet started as just an apparel brand, but over the months it has become a support brand in which we strive to promote athletes, musicians and anyone else to be one of a kind while providing a source of energy within our clothes. Our mission is to help others in the form of a global team and friendship.

What is the general creative process you go through when creating a new piece for Jet?

Inspiration for Jet comes many times a day and not always from my brain. I accept many ideas from supporters and transform them visually into our products. The first thing we take into account is the comfortability and make of the actual item we plan to use. Sometimes the garment will dictate what type of design goes on it. Originally, we wanted to show all the cool designs we could come up with, but of late we wish to have our supporters comfortable while wearing “Jet” or the octopus during performance, creation, athletics  resting or any time during the day that they need comfort and a belonging to what Jet stands for.

Who or what are your influences when it comes to your designing?

My dad has been my artistic idol since the paintbrush was passed down at birth. For graphic and apparel design I made sure to keep to myself and not get too familiar with other designers as to avoid absorbing another creator’s visions. Much of my work is unique and I am grateful that I can be the source that others get inspiration from… and some choose to blatantly copy me; I take it all as a compliment. Aside from design, there are many artists who I love to watch produce week after week. Some of my favorite artists are alumni of my art school: Jason Seiler, Gil Elvgren, Samantha DeCarlo.

How do you define your personal style?

I am a minimalist at heart. I strive to express by offering as little information as possible. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work when designing for a client. Black and white is my preferred palette for it is timeless and exact. It is my personal belief that if you cannot express your idea without color then it is not strong enough.

So far, as a clothing designer, what has been your biggest accomplishment?

YMCA and Lollapalooza are my top apparel clients, but my Chicago sports team shirt has taken on a life that I never would have imagined when I first made the design in high school. I have seen my Chicago design recreated over 100 times on shirts, tattoos, decals, etc. Most people believe I should be upset that there are thousands of people wearing something that was stolen from me and profiting off my work, but I somewhat love the idea that I made something that so many people know and love without knowing the origin of it. I appreciate the few that praise me for it, but I don’t fret about it because I know my legacy is much bigger than that design.

Where can readers find/buy your clothing?

The Jet headquarters are in Waukegan, Illinois and we have an online store at GetJetGear.com. We also sell in boutiques around Chicago.

How would you define Los Angeles’s vs. Chicago’s fashion?

We all know that Chicago is 9 months of cold and so fashion abides to long sleeves and pants. The Los Angeles fashion culture is something that cannot be labeled or tamed. It has a life of its own and I could not begin to understand its needs. California seems to be the bean of innovation that grows eastward across the United States.

Where do you see yourself and Jet in 5 years?

I prefer not to mold the future of Jet. Jet is my baby and I want to raise it freely, but I hope to have it be a nation-wide brand of energy, support and comfort. If formed naturally, Jet will become a new way of thinking about apparel. In our mission statement it says “Our brand is not an accessory; it is an attribute.”

Be sure to visit GetJetGear.com to check out some of Brando’s creations and to get a feel as to what the Jet lifestyle is all about! 


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