Rick Williams is the proprietor of the BURN RUBBER store in Detroit, though he also has a separate branding company known as DISTINCT LIFE. Frank the Butcher holds down Boston, from where he engineers the clothing brand BAU and dabbles in music and video under the BUTCHER’S BLOCK banner. Now these two bearded mavens of street wear have joined forces to spawn yet another side-project known as NOVEM. What better way to get the scoop on this NOVEM double pack of Saucony Shadow 5000s than to ask Frank and Rick to interview each other.
R: Why Business As Usual? It was my way of saying, ‘Nothing is going to stop my progress!’. No adversity will get in the way of my future and taking care of family. Real talk, it means, ‘Fuck you, stand aside while I make things happen!’.
F: What’s up with the Butcher’s Block and BAU?
Butcher’s Block is a place where I showcase my work including mixtapes, videos and so on. It’s a hub that is separate from my retail work. ‘BAU’ started as something I would say – then became my crew – which includes you (surprise) and Paul Mighty, plus 7L on the music side. It was only right it became my brand. I just launched the line in summer 2013 in five countries. It was an evolution and I’m proud of it.
Do you see yourself opening a BAU store?
I always say that I want to get away from retail. It’s a pain in the ass, BUT I definitely want to explore the BAU flagship idea. It would obviously carry all my ventures – apparel, colabs and music related – and I can showcase some brands I’m a fan of that might not be known to Boston. I definitely don’t want to compete with Concepts or Bodega, they’re the kings, instead I want to add something different to the city.
What is NOVEM all about?
Novem is two friends working together in an official capacity. An excuse to do good work while knowing my back is watched and my best interests are being considered. Common goals with a genuine concern for the partnership which is basically the opposite of normal business partnerships.
What was your inspiration behind your Shadow 5000 from our NOVEM pack?
I wanted to make something in a colour combo and set of materials that I love without a real story other than making something fly. I’ve seen the Shadow 5000 used on other colabs and I liked the shape and overlays. I love trying to change the shape of shoes with colour blocking. Shit looks clean, mean and wearable. Mission accomplished.
That’s all I have. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for this thing we call NOVEM! Give Helene and the little duns my love.
F: People assume that Burn Rubber is in Detroit, but you’re actually in Royal Oak. Where is that?
R: It’s about three miles north of the Detroit city limit. Royal Oak is actually a centralised shopping district with a bunch of restaurants.
What do you think Burn Rubber has contributed to the Detroit area in terms of fashion and style?
I think we’ve contributed a sense of relevance as it pertains to the world view. We were the first store to work with some of the major sneaker companies. Before us you’d only see this type of thing coming from major cities like New York, LA, Boston and Chicago.
You also have a company called the Distinct Life. What do you do under that name?
It’s a creative agency specializing in branding and design. We’ve worked with NB, Reebok, Puma and Fortune 500 companies like General Motors. It’s also a personal creative outlet as I’m able to take on projects without having to consult anyone. I enjoy working with like-minded people and doing our part to take them to the next level.
Let’s talk about our Novem x Saucony project. Explain what you did to your Shadow 5000.
When I approach design my main focus is coming up with something that I can wear. I like to take things to a simpler time when we wore the same shoes for months until they wore out. I chose to go with navy blue, grey and white with red pops which are universal colors that can be worn with a variety of clothing. In a lot of my designs I like to keep the same colour and switch up the texture of the material. I feel that this gives the shoe another dimension and a premium feel.
What’s the oddest shit I say or do as an ‘East-coaster’ that bugs you out? Be honest!
Bro, why do you guys call ‘corner stores’ bodegas? Where does that come from? With us it’s obvious, the corner store is normally on a corner. Other than that we are very similar!
Well, I guess that’s it Rick. You’re my brother for life but I’m always going to be jealous of your strong hairline. Give Yolanda and the kids a hug for me.
Will do, brother!