SOCIALITE LIFE had the opportunity to chat with male model and clothing designer River Viiperi (who is repped by Soul Artist Management) about his modeling career and the launch event for his apparel line RV.
Read our full interview below.
Socialite Life: How did you get started in the Fashion Industry? Can you talk a little bit about what your breakout moment was and what put you on the map as a male model?
River Viiperi: Well my parents were both involved in the industry. My mom used to be a model and an actress and my dad was an actor. So they were pretty much involved in this whole thing, they had a lot of people that they knew and that were in Spain and Europe in the Industry and they thought that maybe I could give it a try. As you know, Moms always think their kids are the most beautiful things on earth (laughs) So, that was how I started. My mom basically encouraged me to do that. And, my breakout moment…I would probably say back when I opened the Calvin Klein show in February 2010, that was my first trip to the States and that was basically the turning point where like, they considered me an established model and it was my first show ever so that was a pretty big start so I got pretty lucky there.
SL: And how old were you at that time?
RV: I had just turned 18 that year. Well the year before that I had turned 18 in August and that was in February 2010 so I literally was 18 years and a couple months.
SL: Awesome. And then from there, I assume, everything just sky rocketed?
RV: Yeah, after I got that, I opened the show, and I got a lot of buzz. I mean, I got pretty lucky; everybody got to know me straight out of that show. A lot of clients were interested in booking me because of that show. So, I literally went from 0 to 100 in a matte of days. I am pretty lucky…very blessed.
SL: So what’s it like being a male model? We are constantly hearing all of these critiques circling around the women’s side of the fashion industry – is male modeling any different in that sense? Do you feel like you get more or less criticism?
RV: Well, we definitely don’t get as much criticisms the girls. But I just think it’s interesting because people just think you’re good looking, you don’t have a personality, you don’t have any opinions about anything, you’re just there being yourself and looking good. And I just love that because I love proving people wrong, and I would always prove those people wrong and prove that we are not just a good face, or a good body – we are people. (laughs) We have studied, we have our own studies, we read, and we like to talk about other things, not only male modeling. But I mean, we don’t take it as seriously as the girls do. So I think because of that, I feel like they can’t criticize us as much and…I don’t know how to say it, but we are more laid back, we don’t really take it that seriously. We just enjoy it. We are friends, all the male models around are. I feel like the girls are more competitive. They have more lose, they have more to win – but we are just enjoying the ride.
SL: Gotcha. Do you have any female model friends that you have met within the industry? Have you been able to become friends with some of the girls or is that harder to do than with the guys?
RV: Not really. I’m always with my guy friends, running around in a group. It’s hard, the girls are so much more into it, it’s not even worth being part of. I like to just enjoy my time in Europe with my friends and my buddies and go out and have a good time and just go to castings with the guys and just relax and have fun and be able to hang out with a group of people that think the same way I do – not taking it too seriously, feeling happy for your friend when they book a job, and if they don’t try to tell them that they’ll get it next time or whatever. Girls are completely the opposite – they fight about it. (laughs)
SL: So what made you decide to make the switch from model to designer? Do you plan on continuing your modeling career or would you say that you are now going to be focusing more on your designs?
RV: As a model you have a lot of free time. You spend a lot of time on planes or in hotels, during castings, in between the shows and stuff so I just wanted to do something that complemented modeling with; something that I could do during that free time. And apparently, creating a clothing line looked like a good idea and so that’s what I decided to do. But, I am definitely going to keep doing my modeling. I’m definitely going to keep following my modeling career, now that I have launched the brand and everything is up and running – as I said, it’s very easy to complement it with modeling, so I am definitely going to keep both and hopefully something else will come out of it.
SL: Definitely, I’m sure something will. It sounds like that’s probably the best way you could spend your free time because it really does complement what you are doing day to day. What was the process like designing your own line? Did you encounter any difficulties during this time? Were there any surprises? Or was it what you expected it to be?
RV: I mean it was a lot of fun. It’s not as easy as everybody would think – as I thought. But it’s something you can enjoy, it’s being creative, its…designing something is transmitting and expressing whatever you are feeling. You can express what ever you want to tell people out there when you’re wearing that t-shirt walking down the street or when you’re doing interviews or whatever. So it is a very interesting thing to do and I enjoy it a lot. The good part is, I got a lot of help from people that are in the industry, so they helped me with their experiences and told me their “Do’s and Don’ts.” I’m sure that helped me get through a lot of that hard process of making all the mistakes and spending all the money to make those, to like, make up for those mistakes. So I got a lucky in that part but…I definitely didn’t expect that it would be as hard as it has been. I thought it was going to be much easier.
SL: Are there any of the people that have helped you who are within the industry that you can name?
RV: Well, I met Brian Lichtenberg. I met him during NYFW and I’ve asked him for some tips here and there. They have helped me a lot with my line and with getting contacts to start out. So, he is one of the friends that I am happy for having. He helped me out a lot during the beginnings of my idea. So he would probably be number one.
SL: Would you say then that he was your biggest help during this process?
RV: Yeah, him and the person that helps him out were both very supportive and they both support me still. They’re always asking if I need anything else and they’re always backing me up.
SL: That’s great! That being said, where can your line be purchased? Will it mainly be marketed online or are you hoping to expand by selling and having your product in different stores eventually?
RV: Well at the moment I have just launched my website. We have been up and running for about three weeks. Before I get into retail stores I definitely want to have more…I want to have it up and running smooth and I want everything to be perfect. I’m very OCD in that way; I am very organized so I go step by step. But, I have been getting a lot of buzz – a lot of people have already been contacting me to have my line carried in their stores. So, smaller boutiques, bigger chains, so it’s going to happen, but as of now I’m probably going to keep my website for a couple more months before I start get into any retail stores. I want to be able to pick the right ones. I want to make sure my line is a little more exclusive – exclusive in a good way – where people can order it online, worldwide. My fans are worldwide more than just based in one city so I feel like only opening a store in LA would be very limited in terms of the people I want to reach out to. But that’s why I want to have a good group of people that want to carry my line in different countries and once that is set up I will launch it entirely. April 16th, we are doing our first pop-up shop at the Mondrian Hotel where I will be launching my underwear line too. So I’ll be presenting my underwear line and my sweatpants as well.
SL: Have you thought a little bit about what kind of stores you would like the line to be carried in?
RV: I mean I would be looking into…I mean Kitson. Kitson is pretty much my first option. I mean, it’s the style I want, the customer that they have is exactly what I need. Generation Hustle would also add a different edge. We would also be talking about maybe getting into Urban Outfitters, Collete in Paris – just like smaller boutique stores that people who like fashion will go and shop at. If I expressed that right…
SL: Yeah, definitely! I could totally see your line at Kitson – I think that would be a perfect fit.
RV: We’ll see. We’ll see.
SL: So would you say that there is any other clothing line out right now that is comparable to yours in terms of price range and the overall look?
RV: Yeah, I mean, I would say like Brian Lichtenberg, Boy London, Billionaire’s Boys Club – they’re all the same style, they basically have the same qualities, similar prices, they target the same customers. It’s different designs but it’s definitely in the same range. We are targeting the same market. So I would definitely say those are some of the brands that I can relate to and that my brand can relate to.
SL: What is your projected sales volume for this year?
RV: Well, we are very far away from the first year, but within these first three weeks we have had over 1,000 orders and that can translate from anywhere between 1,000 to 10,000 pieces. So, I’ve been trying to do an estimate with my partners and we are probably going to hit close to 15-20,000 orders at the end of the year, which could probably translate and add up to 100,000 products or even more, with 1,500 to 2,000 orders at the end of this month. So, it’s looking pretty good, I’m very excited, I never expected to get such buzz out of this – so it’s definitely been a fun experience.
SL: Sounds like this is only the beginning for you, everything is taking off very quickly. That’s a lot of orders within those first couple of weeks!
RV: Yes, we have been very busy and it’s taken off pretty fast. It was pretty unexpected. I’ve had to do a lot of learning and a lot of reading these past three weeks.
SL: So, when you launched the site did you promote it via Twitter or how did you get the word out that you were going live?
RV: So far right now I’ve been using Twitter and Instagram. I’ve been only using social media – but only my social media. I haven’t asked anybody to Tweet and I haven’t put it out there any way differently from that yet. I’ve been on a few people’s blogs and some magazines and a few other things that people have contacted me for, but me personally I have just been using Twitter and Instagram. I’m going to have some billboards get put up probably in the next couple months and then after the launch party and the pop up shop at the Mondrian Hotel, I’m going to start marketing a little more. Getting into websites and magazines, have a little more buzz going on by having people tweet about it. I’ll probably start doing product placement with celebrities and stuff as well. That’s going to be the big adventure, that’s going to be the growing part.
SL: Do you have any particular celebrities in mind that you would love to have wear your line?
RV: Anybody young and fun! RV is a young and fun clothing line and it aims to clothe lovers of authentic and rebellious fashion and I really just started this as a project to show that struggle and sacrifice can and will lead to your dreams. You just have to overcome your fears and limits to each moment and just live with determination and courage. So anybody that can relate to that would be great to wear my brand. I’m still trying to find the right celebrities but we have been talking about using the boys from One Direction, who started with a dream to be singers to making it to the top of the charts and becoming one of the biggest boy bands out right now. Model wise, we are thinking about Sean O’Pry who is a guy who left his hometown to move to New York and is now a #1 Male Model in the world. There are a lot of people that have started from nothing and are right now, at the top. So those people that know what it means to struggle during this process and have people that think it is just so easy to [be successful] and that you can only [be successful] because it was all handed out to you…those are the ones that should wear the brand. So we’ll see who deserves to wear my brand! (laughs) No, there are definitely a lot of options though. There are a lot of options of people who have worked hard in their lives, to have their lives right now and they would understand my struggles and what I want to transmit with my clothing line.
SL: Do you have a specific favorite item that you designed and why?
RV: My favorite item would probably be anything that has my logo on it. I was very involved in the process f designing the logo. I mean, they’re my initials and it has a whole story behind it similar to that of an inverted pyramid. On the right, the V is a symbol for the “fast lane” or the easy way to get to the top and achieves the dream of your life. Then on the left, which is the R with the curve, which is representative of the twisted road where people like myself have had to find out ways to get to the top and we have had to struggle and we have had to make our mistakes and correct them and all that. So, I love anything that has the logo.
SL: And you have the logo available on almost all of the items correct: the hats, the sweatshirts, and the tees…?
RV: Hats, t-shirts, crewnecks and hoodies. Yep, the logo is going to be everywhere! (laughs) But my favorite item, apart from the logo would probably be the Toy Boy design. That’s me expressing the indifference of people’s opinions about me or my relationships or anything – so it is a very meaningful piece and a meaningful design for me in that sense.
SL: Do you have any advice for aspiring models or designers trying to get in the industry, if you would like to share any of your wisdom on that?
RV: I just encourage people to do it even though most people tell you not to. Some people will tell you that they tried and they failed – don’t care about that. If you have dream and you have a goal to get there, you just have to put the rest aside and go for it. Do whatever it takes to get to the top because nobody can stop you.
Note: The Official Launch Party for RV By River Viiperi will be on April 16th at the Mondrian Hotel.