Next up in our regular series ‘The Everyday Interview’ is Carl Gilliam, brother of music superstar Will.i.am, who together founded MCCVIII (pronounced TWELVE-O-EIGHT) – a luxury footwear brand named after their childhood home address of 1208 Glennfield Heights in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles. As teenagers, the brothers would often design and make their own eye-catching clothes, which became the envy of friends and ignited a lifelong passion for design. The brothers launched their new Chariot collection at LFWM in January, now available at Harvey Nichols. Carl answered our 7 questions from his home in LA.
What did you want to be growing up?
Growing up I wanted to be a few things: a professional American football player, a barber and a youth counselor. I’m proud to say I’ve accomplished 2 out of the 3 – a barber and a youth counselor
Where did the idea for your brand come from and how did you bring it to life?
I’ve always rocked the freshest sneakers. One day my brother suggested that I design my own sneakers and start a company. I’ve built the company from the ground up, starting with designs, locating a factory and using the finest materials.
What has been the greatest challenge to your brand/work?
Growing up where I come from, I’ve been faced with many, many difficult challenges. Nothing dealing with the company compares, but I’d have to say the biggest challenge so far is making people aware of this dope brand, with a wonderful story to back it.
Who was or is your greatest influence?
My greatest influence is and always will be my family. Shout out to Nanny, Mommy, Wifey, Willie (will-i-am), Uncle Donnie, my kids, my brothers and sisters, aunties, uncles and cousins, etc. Just kidding….. I know that was so ghetto of me.
How would you describe your personal style?
Good question. I never really bothered to describe my personal style to myself. When I’m in public, I always get…. “Hey!…. those are cool shoes”, or “That’s a cool jacket!” or “That’s a cool outfit!”, or “you’re a cool ass dude!”. So I guess I would have to stay that my personal style is just simply “cool”- if that makes sense.
Tell us something nobody knows about you?
I pray more than ten times a day. I ask God everyday to make everyone love one another, no matter what ethnicity, religion, gender, color etc.
Words to describe yourself?
I’m just me. But, I’ll use words that I’ve heard other people describe me as – hilarious, kind, fun, knowledgeable, witty, logical, compassionate, understanding, fair, simple, caring blah-blah-blah! That was a weird question – it has me feeling like I was filling out an online dating application. (Not that there’s anything wrong with online dating applications!).
The MCCVIII footwear collection is available at Harvey Nichols.