Not every college student can say that they managed to get their degree while simultaneously creating their own clothing company, but recent Rutgers graduate Alex Shweky can. Alex is the founder of “Robot Jungle”, an urban clothing company with a focus on creating unique and imaginative clothing for individuals. Robot Jungle doesn’t complicate things— with designs that are simple and wearable, yet intriguing. The now Brooklyn-based designer graciously answered a few of my questions about what makes Robot Jungle so great.
Hannah Gerber: What does “Robot Jungle” mean?
Alex Shweky: I just threw some different words together and came up with Robot Jungle to be honest. About a month later, I came up with an actual meaning for it. I thought of taking all the cookie-cutter, "robotic" people in society and throwing them into a dangerous, unpredictable jungle. They’d all have to fend for themselves and work with their individual strengths and personalities to survive. Just giving a new perspective to people's individuality, I guess.
HG: What inspired you to start the company?
AS: About three years ago, I was staying at my friend's house in Maryland for the summer and he's the type of person who has a new million dollar idea every day. So he'd always be throwing ideas at me and I guess after just being around that for three months, I was trying to think of things I could do to start my own business. My mom went to FIT and was a fashion designer for Isaac Mizrahi so she influenced me a lot when it came to art and fashion. I always enjoyed sketching and designing random things but never really gave any serious thought to it. So I figured I’d try out sketching some clothing and see where I could take it. It ended up becoming much more than I originally expected though.
HG: How long have you been creating your own designs?
AS: I guess about 3 years but Robot Jungle has gone through 3 very different phases. It started as an OBEY type company but it was so similar to everything else out there that I needed to change it. Then it became completely absurd. I was creating shirts that said “I <3 Penguins” but had a picture of a giraffe on it...they made no sense. And although I loved them, it was hard to get other people excited about them. So then I decided to kind of mix the two extremes. I created the “Robobutt” logo and started making ridiculous designs that were still structured enough to make sense.
HG: What was the first article of clothing you designed?
AS: The first article of clothing I’ve ever designed is actually a secret because I plan on making it soon and I want it to be kept a surprise. But the first article of clothing I designed under the Robot Jungle name was the “I Am Not A Robot” shirt. That design went through about three stages also but I’m happy with the way it turned out.
HG:Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
AS:Being that it’s a primarily urban company, I like checking out OBEY, Supreme, and Billionaire Boys Club for inspiration. However, my fashion style is all over the place so I like to try and show that through the Robot Jungle brand while still staying on some sort of straight track.
HG:Who are some of your favorite designers?
AS: Shepard Fairey and Pharrell Williams are my favorite two by far. Shepard I love because he didn’t expect to create what he did. He was just creating art because he loved it and other people just happened to love it as well. And Pharrell is...well...Pharrell. Music and fashion are the two things I love most in this world (besides penguins and family and pizza) so to see someone who is a huge player in both the music and fashion industry is just awesome.
HG: If you could have any celebrity wear one of your designs, who would it be and why?
AS: For those who don’t know me, I look exactly like McLovin from Superbad. I was recently asked for an autograph while walking around Times Square because someone actually thought I was him. So I think it would be brilliant to have a picture with me and Christopher Mintz-Plasse next to each other, both wearing the same Robot Jungle shirt. If anyone can make that happen, please let me know.
HG: What’s next for Robot Jungle?
AS: Taking over the world...or creating a real life Jurassic Park. But probably the first one.
The brand’s site (which you can check out here), encourages shoppers to “Rep your individuality”— and who doesn’t want to do that? Alex makes shirts that are not only unique and stylish, but also affordable. Be sure to like Robot Jungle on Facebook and follow @Robot_Jungle on Twitter!
Happy Hunting! xo