STRAIGHT FROM THE SEWER -
AN INTERVIEW WITH STRAY RATS
Stray Rats were born in the tropical climes of Miami before relocating to New York City. The brand is spearheaded by founder Julian Consuegra and former lead creative at FUCT, JR Ewing. Their eclectic array of reference points and the confluence of their respective talents and life experiences are filtered through the Stray Rats lens to create a unique, DIY infused aesthetic. We caught up with Julian and JR at their New York studio to find out more...
GH: How would you describe Stray Rats in your own words?
Julian: Refined adolescence by design.
GH: You are originally from Miami. How was it growing up there and do you find the city still inspires you?
Julian: Growing up there it was frustrating for me because I wanted to be apart of so many things that seemed very far. I felt Miami was limiting to where I wanted to be. But it made me very hungry and anxious to find things to be apart of and build on. I think a lot of people down there understand that we’re in our own world, we’re at the bottom. and we can kind of do whatever we want without feeling the pressures that other big cities with a lot of people can feel.
When I go back, there is something very magical that looms over Miami every time I come back to work or visit. I see new shapes and colours and become warmer to it. The mystery of the city will always entertain me and inspire to no end...
GH: Julian, for the first three years of the brand you were running things solo. How did you meet JR?
Julian: We met through mutual friends on the West coast on some “you guys need to know each other” type thing. We became friends and then maybe two and a half years later we moved to New York at the same time and figured it would be a good time to expand what I was building in Miami together.
GH: JR, you were previously working for Erik Brunetti at Fuct, how was that?
JR: Erik remains a mentor and above all a good friend to me. He is a real person who’s not scared to speak his mind, sometimes to a fault but I admire that. We need more people that aren’t afraid to be themselves. Working with FUCT was by far one of the most defining moments of my career. I have nothing but gratitude for that opportunity he gave to me. FUCT has been a very big influence since an early age and continues to be.
GH: Where did the name ‘Stray Rats’ come from?
Julian: I connected to rats through the punk rock/hardcore scene. You could sift through so many records and designs and see rats or lyrics about feeling like a rat or through the eyes of a rat in an underground or unwanted, hated perspective. I think it’s safe to say they are the unofficial mascot of punk / hardcore haha. I always say that I felt me and my friends were a bunch of moving rats in the city, getting what we could within the environments or boundaries we’re in. Underground but above ground to bring it back into creating a world together.
GH: What keeps you both inspired?
JR: I like to study the past through my own history and keepsakes, analyzing the root influences of my life and style from popular culture. Living in the now can be so basic if you don’t understand where “now” originates. The future drives my love for the past, and together all these keep me inspired.
Julian: Being open minded and optimistic. Seeing the younger kids make something out of nothing with limited resources. Discovering things that I knew nothing about. Traveling and understanding new environments.
GH: I remember reading that you guys would only ever make clothes that you would personally wear. Is this mantra still true to Stray Rats today? And how important is it to you as the brand continues to grow?
JR: Stray Rats is sophisticated design for this seemingly basic art form. Julian drives the designs intellectually and his sense of style is impeccable. I am here to help guide his vision through older eyes. Seasonally we learn new things about ourselves through design, growth and strategy. We share a love for similar aesthetics. The combined experiences we have lived through are pulled on daily and keep the brand fresh and smart. Stray Rats will never suffer from arrested development. I can promise you that.
Julian: I wouldn’t make anything that I feel me or my friends wouldn’t wear, it would be too untrue for us. I collect and own so much clothes so I try to make SR somewhat different from the mass amount of shit I already have and wear, a way to feel new or clean.
GH: Julian, you have been doing some design work for Drake? How did that come about?
Julian: A homie who works for OVO reached out to me and asked if I was interested to try and make merch for Drake during a very important moment in merch history. I’m a big fan of his music so it was fun for me to do and see the pop-up shops and people lining up at the merch booths for his shows.
GH: You seemed to be associated with a vast genre of artists, from rap to punk. What artists are you listening to at the moment?
Julian: There’s a lot of range right now, some days I’ll zone out to Phantasy Star Online (EP 1 and 2) Soundtrack, other days in the middle of the night it could be Pale Saints - Flesh Balloon EP on repeat… it's scary I love the way they covered Kinky Love, been infecting my daydreams. On our Know Wave radio shows I end up playing a lot of what I’m into at the moment, our more recent episodes have a lot of 80’s Japanese music, like Toshiki Kadomatsu, Ryuchi Sakamoto / YMO or some fusion jazz like Casiopea getting a lot of play recently...
GH: What does the future hold for Stray Rats?
Julian: I ’m not really sure, I’m riding the wave with what I have right now and just slowly expanding the catalogue, bringing in more friends to help out and making new environments as we go along.