Reuel Matthew is the designer and brainchild behind New York based fashion label Egami. Matthews left his corporate job as a CPA at a big firm to create a brand that bridged the gap in custom tailors and couture. His structured pieces are both traditional yet modern, with a flair for the dramatic. We caught up with him just behind his latest New York Fashion Week showcase where he unveiled his S/S ’19 collection down the runway.
Winston Wise: What was the inspiration behind starting Egami?
Reuel Matthew: I often say there were no custom tailors catering to the “every day person” before Egami. I started Egami, in 2016 by tailoring mainly for people in the community in Brooklyn and former business colleagues. Then in Fall 2016 I launched a private New york Fashion week event at Capsule studio in NYC showcasing my Spring/Summer SS’16 couture suit line. The inaugural private event, aimed at engaging the community, ended up attracting music artists, athletes, and celebrities who I then took as private clients and would be the start of a lucrative business.
Were you always drawn to fashion & how did you get your start in the industry
I always had an eye for fashion, being the son of a seamstress and piano teacher. My personal style is a bold yet sophisticated mix of my experiences being born in the islands of Trinidad and Tobago (where his friends and family designed carnival costumes of bright and vibrant colors) as well as his time working in corporate America. Matthew’s start in the industry came from a self-financed New York Fashion Show which caught the eyes of a number of celebrities which include Malena Belafonte (designer), Ty Grant (NBA), and Jhonny Gil (artist).
“Egami means image spelled backwards as our brand has a goal of enhancing the image of our clients.”
The name is so unusual, please walk us through it…
Egami means image spelled backwards as our brand has a goal of enhancing the image of our clients. As an example, we recently dressed a celebrity by the name of Pleasure P from a group called Pretty Rick for his appearance on the Breakfast Club (a popular morning show on 105.1 FM radio), and our designs got great feedback from the host and social media.
You just have showed cased at New York Fashion Week, walk us through the current collection?
Our most recent collection featured mainly long coats for men and women in bold colors (ex, yellow, purple, royal blue) with high end features like gold custom buttons, suspenders, custom fedoras, etc. It ended up being a mix of high end a fun designs that got a great response and standing ovation from the audience.
What do you think are the current trends this season?
Current trends in fashion that I see are bold colors, exaggerated features (longer length or higher cuts), and a lot of detail (i.e. custom art, interior linings, embellishments and trimmings)
Do you have any advice for budding fashion designers looking to get into the industry
My advice is to be a bold innovator and create brands that fill missing gaps in your community. Differentiate yourself and your brand to create a loyal following and don’t be scared to put your art out even when you think don’t have all the pieces fully together. People will respect the fact that you’ve taken a risk and are an innovator.
If you were not a fashion designer, what would you be doing instead?
If I were not a designer, I would be a teacher to help kids learn and help bridge the education gap
See more of his designs below: