2002/2003: Starting the brand/meeting Greg
Mikhail: I started the brand before meeting Greg. I was at a job that I didn’t like very much. I was really into streetwear at the time — I had been my whole life — and I was really into sneaker culture, so I decided to take all this money I got from a settlement, which wasn’t much, something like $20,000, to invest in a bunch of T-shirt designs with no knowledge of how to sell T-shirts. I asked Greg to come in and see if he wanted to do this after several months of getting nowhere with it. He was the only other person I knew who was kind of interested in it and wanted to do this sort of stuff.
Greg: Well, growing up in Florida, it is kind of devoid of street culture, so when I moved up here, I was really influenced by graffiti and street art. A friend of mine actually turned me on to streetwear, stores like Supreme, Alife, Stackhouse and SSUR. It was sort of new to me, but I could really relate to it. I got into punk when I was 15 and I saw a lot of the same DIY ethics, and I liked the idea of someone being an artist and being able to do their art by selling a T-shirt. It was kind of like being in a band, you know? It can be hard to sell music, but it isn’t as hard to sell a T-shirt. Mike grew up here and knew a lot more about streetwear, but we were into the same sort of things. Mishka started in 2003, but it really started when Mike and I came together. For example, I had this bootleg Freddy Krueger shirt, and I was like, “We should remake this shirt,” and Mike said, “No, but why don’t I take it, put an African medallion on it, and have it say ‘Choppin ‘n’ Poppin.’” I would have never come up with that, and Mike may never have found that bootleg Freddy Krueger shirt because he’s not necessarily scouring eBay like I was. So to me, that’s really what made Mishka what it is today. One of us would come up with an idea and the other would expound on it.
Mikhail: Yeah, I would basically force Greg to go out to Sway and meet people. [Laughs]
Greg: The first collection we did together really showed that we could bring together two worlds that we couldn’t have brought together on our own.