I had the pleasure of attending the release party for Cool Mentality recently and sat down with Wayno, the creator, for a one-on-one interview about the inspiration behind the line, his focus and plans.
So before we talk about the clothing, why don’t you let those who may not be familiar with you, know a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Wayno: My name is Wayno. I’m an aroma of different things. People know me as an A&R, a fashion designer, as well as an inspirational speaker. What I’m really known for is my dealings in music. I used to work at Roc-A-Fella as an A&R.
Where did this passion for fashion come from?
Wayno: I’ve always had a love for fashion, ever since I was in the 4th grade. I used to lick my fingers and
clean my sneakers off whenever they’d get dirty. But honestly, it came to me around 2010. I just had an idea. I was at a pivotal point in my life where I needed to really figure out if I wanted to start a company. I had a lot of dealings in music, but that really wasn’t what I wanted to do. So I just had an idea to come up with a line. I’ve always been into fashion and I’ve always loved sneakers. Hip-hop culture merges with fashion. With me doing what I did in hip-hop and getting into fashion, it just made sense.
I love the name of the line, Cool Mentality. What inspired the name?
Wayno: Honestly, a Dom Kennedy song I was listening to one time. I had the idea for the line but I couldn’t come up with a name for the line. I heard a few words on the song, “cooling” and “mentality” and I was like, “oh that’s it!” I hope I don’t have to pay Dom for that (laughs). But yeah, that’s how I came up with it along with Peace Love and Unity, and that creates a Cool Mentality. And that’s my way to not get sued (laughs).
There’s an undeniable connection between hip-hop and fashion. Are there any rappers wearing your clothes now?
Wayno: Yes yes. Smoke Dza has worn my clothes, Freeway, and Young Chris. Only a few because I didn’t want my brand to be determined by my friends who are artists. No disrespect to them, but they can be hot one day then cold the next, so I took about 2 years to build the foundation and fan base of people who liked the message.
The name is influenced by hip-hop, is that the same for the brand?
Wayno: Yes, most definitely. The brand is influenced by hip-hop, but it’s also influenced by the world, things I see that coincides with hip-hop. Hip-hop is a universal language. It affects people far and wide. I pay attention to what’s going on in hip-hop, as far as what’s the newest thing going on. I also try to incorporate the things that influenced me from the past, but I don’t forget about the youth. The youth determines what’s gonna be hot tomorrow.
At your brand launch for Cool Mentality, you told those in attendance that you want your clothes to change the world.
Wayno: I grew up in a household where my mom had Buddha statues around the house and that is a thing
in Asian culture. You gotta think about this black kid walking down the block with his Buddha shirt on matching his Lebrons, and he sees this Asian kid walking down the block that may have had that Buddha influence in his home. That’s a conversation that can be sparked.
And that’s what it’s all about. I just wanna bridge people together. There are so many things that can bring us together as opposed to keeping us apart, no matter color we are. It’s wack to not co-exist and share.
What is your 12 month goal with Cool Mentality?
Wayno: Well, I set my goals a little deeper than 12 months. I set them by years rather than a 12 month goal, but next year, I’d like to have a stronger following of loyal people who are really into the brand as opposed to just matching Cool Mentality with their sneakers. I’m not into doing stuff based around sneaker releases. I do what feels right to me. It’s too easy to do stuff based on what’s dropping and don’t get me wrong, it makes sense from a financial standpoint, but like I said before, I’m trying to change. I gotta think further than finances. In 12 months, I just wanna still be here and be better than I am this year. This year has been tremendous. I just wanna keep going up from here.
What’s your 5 year plan?
Wayno: In 5 years, hopefully I’m living in LA with a flagship store out there, a flagship store in New York, and enjoying my Lakers *hi fives Zoi*.
I want a brand that’s consistent. The keys to success are consistency and determination and I’m determined to be successful. I wanna keep surprising myself. I wanna keep myself fresh and new while doing dope stuff with the brand.
What’s your favorite design so far?
Wayno: Wow, my favorite design so far, it’s between two. One of them would be the Live Forever. That’s an Indian head. It’s comprised of Autumn colors paying homage to Native Americans and all they’ve gone through. But hands down, my favorite is The Miyagi. The Miyagi is a silhouette of Mr. Miyagi with a pair of chopsticks and his bandana. On the side, it says “Catch Your Fly”, which is a metaphor for getting fly. So you having that shirt proves you’re fly.
What’s been your “wow” moment building the Cool Mentality clothing line?
Wayno: I’d have to say when my homegirl Karen Civil wore one of my shirts. She’s a real close friend of mine and one day she instagrammed herself in the Dre Beats office rocking a Cool Mentality shirt. With her having so many relationships with brands that are way ahead of me, for her to put that on, it said a lot about where I’m going. So yeah, that was my “Wow” moment… Karen Civil rocking my stuff.
If people want your clothing right now, where can they get em?
Wayno: The only spot you can find Cool Mentality is in Harlem at this spot called Harlem Haberdashery on Lenox Ave. between 122nd and 123rd or from coolmentalityclothing.com
*photos by Melisssa Moffat*