We recently caught up with Michael “Mike B” Barnett on how he became an ace stylist to today’s most celebrated hip-hop music artists. Transforming a styling career into a luxury fashion brand, Bogard by Mike B; join us below as he delves into his story of what it takes to survive 25 years in the business.
1. Tell me about yourself? What age did you break into fashion?
I broke into the fashion game about 25 years ago. Working with Bad Boy Entertainment assistant to the in-house stylist Groovey Lew and personal liaison to CEO Sean “ Puffy” Combs aka Diddy. Basically, to me it was like a free tuition training as if I were attending the University of Bad Boy; learning all that I could learn by being a sponge to every lesson to be learned. From styling the majority of the artists under this fast growing boutique, ie: Notorious B.I.G., Mase, 112, The Lox etc. As we were a heavily influential brand contributing to culture of Hip Hop.
2. How did you first hear about Cockpit USA?
I first heard about Cockpit USA, I would say late 90s early 2000s, when they had a store on Broadway and Bleeker Street. I was always a huge fan of the classic leather pilot bomber with the fur collar, from the brown, black & cream flavors of colors. But it wasn’t until later I was able to put one and one together, to then realize the brand Cockpit USA was the brand behind one of the most stylish leather bombers “Avirex”.
3. Tell me about Bogard, and what it means?
BOGARD is my brand. There’s BOGARD Management & Consulting LLC in regards to me the stylist, creative director, educator and also having a conglomerate for the next generation of the flyest creative talent. BOGARD by Mike B. is the collection of accessories and custom made apparel. BOGARD is an acronym for Building Organizations Geared Around Real Deals or Designs; depending upon the situation on hand.
4. What inspired the collaboration with Cockpit USA?
What inspired the collaboration with Cockpit USA; around ‘99 I came up with an idea for Cockpit USA to produce an Avirex leather jacket for Puff ( Diddy). Those days we worked via phone and fax machine lol! So after a few calls with Jacky and Jeff Clyman ( the owners of Cockpit USA), a few sketches by me and a fax or two later. We ended up doing jackets for the entire staff and roster of artists for the company of Bad Boy Entertainment. Keep in mind, I had never met Jacky nor Jeff in person, until literally 20 years later we bumped into each other in Florence, Italy at a trade show Liberty Fairs at Pitti Uomo. We were being introduced by a mutual friend Ouigi of Bk Circus. Funny we were both like wait; it can’t be! The rest is history. Now not only did the relationship with Jacky and Jeff help, buI just saw that there was a void in visibility/presence for Cockpit USA in the market of Hip Hop. I just basically thought to myself I wonder if Cockpit USA would have any interest in doing this collaboration with me as a stylist wanting to expand my brand to become known as a designer.
5. When did you know you wanted to get into design?
I’ve always known I wanted to get into design. From High School, I was always designing things for my friends in the neighborhood where they would come to my house which they called “Bogie’s Basement”. Then as I became a fashion stylist in the game, I would design particular pieces for my clients. A bit earlier in my career, during which I was also a co-creative director for Sean John where I would give a lot of input on designs for collections and the fashion shows we produced back then. In addition, I also worked on collaborations with Adidas, NIKE, Sabit NYC, etc... However, later moving forward I was getting tired of not seeing what I wanted in stores for my clients from sizes to fabrics to colors. So I decided to just have things custom made for them. This partnership I have with Cockpit USA has been the first time where I designed products that actually went to retail, which helped my transition from stylist to designer.
6. What has been a highlight for you as a stylist?The highlight of my styling career has a few moments, not just styling and designing for a few projects here and there, but now becoming an educator at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). It’s something about giving back the knowledge of information and experiences I have to the next Mike B on deck to contribute or even change the world of creative art.
7. How do you personally style your jackets?
How do I personally style my jackets? Well, based upon my upbringing, the majority of what I see in fashion today all comes from somewhere in the past. It’s just been remixed, flipped or even duplicated. But I’ve been blessed to have come up during an era where originality of style and music in the streets has a heavy influence on me. So, I basically use that to my advantage and splash it with my modern taste of swaganomatry. Leather was always a sign of stature, style, confidence and sexiness all mixed together.