Exclusive: Hipster Runoff’s Carles talks Fashion, IamCarles.com, and Lance Armstrong


Carles is the unidentified blogger of the “blog worth blogging about,” Hipsterrunoff.com. He is known for his commentary/analysis of the alternative world, everything from theorizing about Animal Collective/mob mentality to coining the next music trend — GorillaVsBearCore? Chillwave? PitchforkWaveGaze? Yesterday, he started a clothing brand, I Am Carles. There’s even a coinciding merchandise website, IamCarles.com. Items for sale include the I Am Carles men’s/women’s shirt and the option to have your shirt personally delivered by Carles himself. An up and coming designer is taking the internets by storm, and so we decided to investigate via an IM interview.

Flavorpill: Hey Carles, it’s Stelios.

Carles: Bro.

FP: Do you like my guitar-branded sn?

CRLS: Yes.

FP: Circa 8th grade, I just wanted people to know I was a “rocker.” You ready for the questions?

CRLS: Sure, go ahead.

FP: Will the I Am Carles shirt eventually come in V-Neck and/or Wolf Shirt?’

CRLS: I think we are looking into v-neck technologies. We are unsure if we would have to ‘remix’ our own inventory. Wolf Shirts seem like they might require additional staffing and teambuilding programs, so right now wolf shirts are not realistic.

FP: Fair enough, I could see you taking the “low-cut” summer tee market by storm. Do you think I Am Carles could be the next Patrick Wolf?

CRLS: I am not really familiar with Patrick Wolf. I think his album was released by Nylon or something. I feel uninterested in being the next Patrick Wolf, based on the images I have seen of him. It seems like my brand would have ‘massively failed’ if I became the next Patrick Wolf.

FP: You posted pictures of Tao [Lin] and Bebe [Zeva] wearing the I Am Carles shirt a while ago, foreshadowing iamcarles.com. As random/spontaneous HRO appears, do you carefully plan everything out?

CRLS: I think it is important to ‘seed’ memes. From what I understand, many Fortune 500 companies are trying to ‘seed’ products and get tons of ‘viral buzz’ on the twitter website livefeed.

FP: When you hint/joke about HRO’s death/the day you stop blogging, it sounds like you seeding for something else… Is HRO only a very small part of huge Keyser Soze-like plan?

CRLS: I think it is unrealistic to expect HRO to be around ‘forever.’ I am enjoying my time on the internet, but it seems ‘unrealistic’ to want to ‘be a blog’ forever. It seems like after another year or two of memeing, I will no longer feel ‘positively reinforced’ when a successful meme is created.

FP: I think the I Am Carles brand is setting you up to last longer. Was it your intent to become/make something you’ve always written about — a lifestyle brand?

CRLS: I am not sure. I feel like I will have to see how the future products are ‘accepted’ by internet consumers. I think being a lifestyle brand would be ‘pretty funny’, just in terms of ‘making decisions about how things look in order to make money.’ Just wondering how to ‘market’ and ‘differentiate’ the iamcarles brand as an internet retailer.

FP: One problem I was thinking about, in terms of marketing — Is buying the I Am Carles shirt an inherently inauthentic choice? There is only one true, “authentic” Carles.

CRLS: I’m not sure. I feel like after the movie ‘Fight Club’, people enjoy exploring themes about ‘identity’ and outsourcing your self-concept to imaginary constructs.

FP: That’s definitely a crucial part of the experience for the people who comment on your site, I’m always puzzled when I read them. They like to use ‘scare quotes’ and ‘speak your lingo,’ possibly to ‘feel a part of something greater’ and show that they ‘get you.’ Does this ever get annoying or is it flattering?

CRLS: I am not sure. It seems to flow naturally. We are all just trying to express how we see+experience the world.

FP: What is it like for you to wear the I Am Carles shirt in public?

CRLS: I have been wearing an ‘I Am Carles’ shirt for the past several months, beta testing the public response to it. It seems like no one knows who Carles is, but they comment on the blue being ‘very pretty.’ They will say ‘You are Carles? I am ______(their name).’

FP: It’s a great way to meet people, the introduction is basically done for you. I need to ask you a classic designer question. Who/what is your greatest inspiration as a designer?

CRLS: I am most inspired by Lance Armstrong.

FP: His brand is incredible. What kind of person do you expect to buy the I Am Carles brand? Will they be anything like your representatives, Tao and Bebe?

CRLS: I feel like many people will buy it, but then be afraid to wear it in public. I also feel like some people will buy it and ‘wear it too much’, and possibly weaken my brand if they are ‘inauthentic’ members of their local scene.

FP: I could see that happening. Imagine the day you get sent a picture similar to that one in your Blink 182 post, with the ‘Groups of pre-altbros / maltstream teenbros’ wearing the same shirt.

CRLS: Seems like that would be a sweet position to be in, where my brand is so strong that I can be ‘lazy and cliched’ but still make ‘mad bank’ somehow. Seems like that is the status that successful brands achieve. Feel like I would embrace that privilege instead of ‘fighting against it.’

FP: It seems sad, but inevitable, I suppose it would be foolish not to “sell yourself” at that point. Would you let American Apparel buy you out/sell your shirt beside the “Legalize LA” shirt?

CRLS: Seems like it would be ‘lucrative.’ Feels like I would let most brands ‘retail the shit’ out of IAmCarles. Even JCPenney.

FP: That’s a bold move. What other products will you sell?

CRLS: I can’t announce them yet, but they are in the process of being manufactured.

FP: I’m excited. I hope to one day have I Am Carles kitchenware/bandanna. Has anyone bought the personal home-delivery package yet? I fear that the person who does will be an indie publication hoping to expose you.

CRLS: No one has purchased the package yet, but several buyers have contacted IamCarles to ensure that the offer is legitimate.

FP: I remember reading the Village Voice interview you did, and you sent them a picture of yourself in a Darth Vader-like mask. Would you greet the buyer in that?

CRLS: I don’t think so. Seems like it would be chill.

FP: When can we expect your album/what instruments do you play?

CRLS: The HIPSTER RUNOFF album is 50% complete. I expected the EP to be completed in Summer 2k9, but late 2k9/2k10 seems ‘more likely’ as I work on other projects. I will most likely launch a different sound project soon.

FP: I’m excited for that too, I think some lo-fi band, like No Age, will give you a shout-out at a concert and build hype very quickly.

CRLS: I have heard that it is important to be ‘anointed’ as ‘relevant’ by Edward Droste, the lead singer of the Grizzly Bear.

FP: Ah, such is the case of Neon Indian. I think if Ed uploaded a twitpic of himself wearing the I Am Carles shirt, it could be a great new meme. Thank you for letting me speak with you, you were as chill as I imagined.

CRLS: No problem, bro.