Fashion and music have always walked hand in hand. Robert Kantor is an Artist and Musician who has taken his many years of experience in fashion and applied it to his love of electric guitars.How did you get involved with the fashion business?
I suppose I was exposed to fashion very early on when my Mom had fashion boutiques when I was young. She had one called Paraphernalia’s boutique which featured MOD clothing from London by designer Michael Mott as well as the original “electric dress”. My parents then moved onto importing and we supplied sweaters to large retailers such as JC Penney and Target. We had many labels of our own including Cache. I always loved fashion and could never dress wildly enough much to my parents dismay! I used to model in fashion shows for “Granny Takes A Trip” from Worlds End in London a big custom maker for rock stars.
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What kind of activities did you do in this industry (fashion)
I had the luck of being in a family run International Business so I was able to try everything from sales to marketing, design and advertising, I had the opportunity to try everything from designing the labels to the finished outfits. We had offices everywhere from China to Italy, from Australia to Peru! I would shop the finest stores in Europe for ideas and then manufacture mainly in Asia. I made hand knit sweaters in Peru and in Italy. My favorite role in fashion of course is design and working with amazing textiles from around the world to create new fashions.I eventually went into retailing and helped to run a contemporary ladies chain of 300 stores here in the USA.
What do you think that has changed in the fashion industry (comparing with nowadays)
Like everything, I think that bottom line has changed the face of fashion. It is very expensive to launch your own brand today and even more difficult to set yourself apart from others. You may have talent but you have to be able to pre sell the items you design as it is very risking to hope people will simply like your designs. That is not to say that there isn’t amazing talent out there and I encourage all of you that have talent try not give up on your dreams. There is still glamour in the fashion world, its just harder to find!
Did you have any contact with celebrities in fashion? About your experience…
Yes of course. I have made dresses for Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and others in Hollywood. I had a licensing deal with Michael Jackson at one point and before I left fashion I was working on a deal with Kim Kardashian to do a new line of sportswear.When and how did you decide to start with the guitars business?
I am songwriter have playing the guitar since I was very young. I have always been in love with the guitar. I have been fortunate enough to work directly with Gibson Guitars in Nashville to custom design and build guitars for my personal collection.. A close friend of mine Rudy Pensa from Buenos Aires had become the top fine guitar dealer and suggested I try and sell my art guitars and gave my my start at his Soho Store.
How is the proceed to get a customized guitar? Describe step by step
I first consult directly with the client about their specific goal or needs and what they are looking to create and for what purpose. I accept a deposit and then help them to select the actual instrument we are going to use for the project. Then, I develop and supply sketch renderings to the client to confirm that the idea is correct. Once this is confirmed I take it from there and execute the painting, application and finishing of the guitar. I only use authentic Fender(tm) and Gibson ™ branded instruments for my work.
How did you end up making guitars with Swaroski pieces?
When I was still in fashion, I wanted a crazy item for our Christmas catalog and it struck me that I could combine my love of guitars with my love of fashion. I took the pattern from one of our best selling T shirts which was made from Swarovski Crystal and applied it to the body of the guitar and that was a big hit, We sold five of them for quite a high price!
Which is the target that buy your guitars?
I try not to limit myself in terms of clients, it all depends on their budget and their dreams. I make guitars for famous rock stars, I make for charities, I make for interior designers that want to have an amazing center piece on a clients walls! I also make guitars for collectors and am currently developing a collection or famous world Street Artist penned guitars. I welcome all inquires but again my instruments are all finished by hand so they are not inexpensive!
There are famous artists that get your guitars, how did them know about you and your work?
Well you know it is not polite to drop names but just to share a few, I have made guitars for Lady GaGa’s Born This Way Tour, Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, Blues artist Gary Clarke Jr., Joe Elliot of Def Leopard, and Steve Stevens of Billy Idol to name just a few.
What was the main goal with this activity?
To take things I have a passion for and take them from dreams to reality. To be honest it was simply to have fun. I so enjoy fashion and music that nothing could please me more than to be able to do both together!
In what point do you think that “Fashion meets Music” in this business?
I like to view fashion and art and music as all one world. I think that there is an intimate connection between them and they are best enjoyed all together. I do not believe that fashion can live without music, have you ever seen a fashion show that does not have a soundtrack? have you ever been to a concert that did not have some outrageous fashion to make a statement? I believe they go hand in hand and need each other to live and breathe!
How is your relation with the music and art?
I am creating brand new music and will soon be releasing some new music both as a producer writer and as a solo artist as well. As far as art goes, one day I contacted a famous street artist “Crash” about making me an art guitar. he had made several for Eric Clapton and said I would need Eric’s permission to have one. Once Eric agreed I since have purchased many art guitars and have some amazing creations by Crash and others. Crash and I are now partners in a new Street Art Gallery in The Bronx NY called WallworksNY. I am now deeply involved now with young emerging street artists from around the world.
Would you like to work again in Fashion?
I feel that I never actually left fashion. It has simply taken a different form for me and I feel blessed to be able to work with such talented people in art, music and fashion! I simply enjoy creating and that is the true essence of fashion!
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