Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Homeless man inspirres new brand

The NYT had an interesting article today about an L.A. homeless man who apparently has made a significant impact on the fashion scene there...

LOS ANGELES -- The newest sensation at the center of Hollywood's fashion scene isn't a famous designer or starlet. It's a 56-year-old homeless man who spends his days dancing on roller skates.

John Wesley Jermyn has been a fixture in West Los Angeles for more than 20 years. Nicknamed "The Crazy Robertson" and "The Robertson Dancer," he is a constant presence on a stretch of Robertson Boulevard that has become the city's trendiest shopping corridor and a prime strolling spot for tourists and movie stars. Among locals and online, there's much speculation about Mr. Jermyn's personal history, including one oft-repeated rumor that he's a secretive millionaire.

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In a plot twist worthy of Tinseltown, Mr. Jermyn now has a clothing label named after him. Since it was introduced last month, "The Crazy Robertson" brand of T-shirts and sweatshirts, created by a trio of 23-year-olds, has flown off the shelves at Kitson, a haunt of tabloid stars like Paris Hilton. The clothes feature stylized images of Mr. Jermyn, including one design -- available on a $98 hoodie -- that has a graphic of him dancing and the phrase "No Money, No Problems" on the back. At the largest of Kitson's three boutiques on Robertson, shirts bearing Mr. Jermyn's likeness are sold alongside $290 "Victoria Beckham" jeans and $50 baby shoes designed by pop star Gwen Stefani.

The label's owners, who grew up in Beverly Hills, have created a MySpace page for Mr. Jermyn. It doubles as an ad for the clothing brand and their nightclub-promotion venture, which is also named "The Crazy Robertson." The young entrepreneurs spent months trying to forge a relationship with Mr. Jermyn -- who now goes by the name John Jermien -- before gaining his approval. They have consulted him on design decisions and had a photographer shoot him for publicity images.

In May, Mr. Jermyn agreed to a deal that entitles him to 5% of "net profit" from clothing sales, according to a copy of the contract seen by The Wall Street Journal. He signed the contract, without speaking to an attorney or family members. But so far he has refused to accept much cash, preferring to be paid in food, liquor and paper for his art projects, according to Teddy Hirsh, one of the label's founders. "He tries not to involve money in his daily life," says Mr. Hirsh, who says he is Mr. Jermyn's agent and manager for future endeavors.

Full Article

14 comments:

Cameron Newland said...

That's fucking awesome. He sure got a shit deal - 5% of profits? That blows...

Blakeley said...

I personally think it is fabulous that he is paid in food, liquor and paper. It makes life less complicated, though it better be good liquor..

Anonymous said...

ANyone remember the fashion line of the evil Mugatu in Zoolanger? "Derelicte"...inspired by the homeless. Life imitates art.

Anonymous said...

U had the same thought, "Derelicte".....hilarious

Anonymous said...

just give me the money

Anonymous said...

The whole THING is F***ING ridiculous - including these articles claiming this homeless, schizophrenic is the latest "fashion sensation" making a "significant impact" on the fashion scene!!! HELLO!! People WAKE UP!!
There isn't a single thread of "fashion" about ANY of this. Has this man or any of the trio exploiting him actually designed an article of clothing? an accessory? NO!
What he has done is POSE! Allowing himself to be exploited in his "trademark" black leggings and visor – ("TRADEMARK"? HELLO AGAIN!! He's HOMELESS! JOBLESS! How many outfits can he possibly own? ). He’s posing for pictures from which "stylized images" are then put on tshirts, sweatshirts, etc. Haven't t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc been around for EVER!!?? Wouldn't consider them the "latest sensation". There’s just about as much contribution to, and impact on “fashion” as the smiley face!
It’s a bunch of CRAP! Just this week's hype and exploitation – but in this case the exploited one is also doing some exploiting of his own!!
It seems that’s what Mr. Jermyn has done most of his life - take advantage of good natured, kind hearted, generous people. Only difference now is he’s got a whole team behind him – an “agent”, marketing and promotional people, development dept…. Not bad !! And if you think about it his “5% of the net” whatever it may be, is a HUGE leap from what he was bringing in workin the streets solo. Especially if he’s able to continue with his mantra of not involving money in his daily life. After all…. No money, No problems, No responsibilities, No taxes, No guilt, No conscience, guess you could go so far as no sense!
That’s Crazy…..Robertson!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with his sister (see http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119498984049791758.html), this is very exploitive. As a family member of the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill I am appalled at a clothing label/logo ("Crazy Robertson") perpetuating such stigma for the mentally ill. This man has schizophrenia, a physical medical condition. Though he has a right to refuse treatment as an adult in our society, that does not change the fact that he is in need of medical treatment and should not be exploited in this manner. Would we approve of this type of treatment for family and friends with mental retardation, heart disease, diabetes, or other medical conditions? Family and friends of those with brain disorders, such as schizophrenia, know that the impact it has on the lives of these individuals and their families is no laughing matter. See www.nami.org for more information on schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely agree with Anons comments above. As a family member of someone who suffers from psychosis this truely is abusive. This man has a right to make choices but he also has a right to not be taken advantage of. Which in this case it seems he is.

:(

Anonymous said...

I am not affiliated with any organization of the mentally ill or with fashion. I am just a Yahoo News reader, and this is the first time I am reading about this issue. I completely agree that this is ridiculous and exploitative. I haven't done my research, but I don't understand why California cannot provide basic treatment and properly distribute services to people in need. People with disabilities and mental illnesses are vulnerable to being taken advantage of in society. Mr. Jermyn cannot accurately defend himself... he has a mental illness! I find it disturbing that passers by on Robertson choose to gawk at Mr. Jermyn instead of being a voice for what his needs are. It's so impersonal (dare I say hostile)! Having his image on a shirt and wearing it like it's hip, is like saying Mr. Jermyn is the "exotic", and it removes you from relating to this person as a human. This is step backward for human kindness (a total lack thereof). The selling of this clothing is a single-minded business venture. No matter how entrepreneur's try to justify this, there are so many issues (of people with disabilities and mental illnesses) here that need to be addressed. Have they? I didn't read anything in the article about the entrepreneur's showing an interest in Mr. Jermyn's human rights. At least that's the natural reaction I got from this article. Has a similar occurrence in California or the U.S. been documented? Can anyone answer... are there exploitation laws being violated here?

Anonymous said...

Since Mr. Jermyn is a willing, participating adult I wouldn't think any law is being broked/violated. Think he would have to be declared unfit or something like that first and then someone (his "guardian" or the like) could pursue protection for him ....

Anonymous said...

First of all...Mr. Jermyn is behind all of this...if you walk around LA and see any posters or stickers that say his name or the crazy robertson it was probably put there by him...and in addition to that i see him on robertson wearing the clothing....perhaps this trio are his friends, i dont see any of you complainers making a difference, offering your friendship to John Jermayn...dont make comments if you dont truely konw the situation

carey said...

We all know art mimics life. But is this art? Is this "brand" trying to make a statement about homelessness, street performers or mental illnesses? Its pretty obvious, by the choice of retailers, this is a "lite" attempt to glorify trendy homeless-chic, while making profit and receiving "fame". This is a look already adopted by the shoppers at Kitson, to name a few; the Olsen twins, and Kate Moss. The look is called " I am rich and skinny, so I want to try hard to look like I don't spend my money on clothes, or try hard to put this outfit together ". This is an empty approach.
I would give my kudos to these guys if this was a brand that was perhaps trying to bring attention to the serious issue of homelessness and the mentally ill. Whether you are downtown walking by the hundreds of "tent camps", or a tourist in Santa Monica, you can't ignore there is a homeless problem around Los Angeles. Brands like American Apparel, which are cool by way of authenticity in intention ,deserve this recognition. I believe perhaps these " Robertson" guys should use the world of branding & high fashion to help make a difference rather than exploit ~ just to be cool.

John's Biggest Fan said...

you guys are tripping! C.R. is a legend and an icon! He loves the attention, too bad it took 30 years for the media to recognize his greatness. Your hating is a sickness, this is the best thing since Andre the Giant had a posse!!

Anonymous said...

The andre the giant /obey street art is in an entire league of its own and def not exploiting a mentally ill man and would never would sell to Kitson? This movement seems more like TMZ meets teen people