NFL PRO TO FASHION PRO: ROBERT MACKEY TALKS CLOTHING DESIGN & J. ZEMAR CELEBRITY WEEKEND
Former NFL linebacker for the Houston Texans, Robert Mackey, has successfully transitioned from a career on the field to a career in the design room. Robert pulled from his own shopping experiences and his difficulty finding fits to flatter his athletic physique, to develop his own line, J. Zemar Premium Brand.
But Robert is taking it one step further utilizing fashion for a good cause. The J. Zemar Celebrity Weekend Chicago will take place from August 12th-14th. A series of events throughout the weekend will showcase Robert’s newest fashions and benefit the Lydia W. Smith Foundation. For more information and to purchase tickets, head over to http://www.giltcity.com/chicago/lydiawsmith.
A Glam Slam spoke with Robert about his fashion endeavors, the J. Zemar line and the upcoming charity weekend. Here’s the scoop:
Your career path has taken you from NFL pro to fashion pro. How did the J. Zemar clothing line come about? Did you always have an interest in fashion?
The line came about after I helped a friend market his line from my senior year in college and into the pros. After I finished playing and went back to college to finish my degree in business management, I got more involved in the day-to-day of the line. Then I created J. Zemar from what I learned from that experience.
Your pieces cater to athletes who face challenges finding the right fit. What materials, cuts etc. do you utilize to flatter their larger frames?
We use a lot of pima cotton and some cotton/poly blends as well. The cuts are pretty distinctive for the fashion industry. The athletic cut that we use makes the garments more streamlined and not bulky, like what you see in most big and tall brands.
Can you describe the brand’s offerings? What makes J. Zemar different then other menswear brands?
We offer a variety of streetwear casual products like vintage denim, tees, cardigans, cardigan hoodies, polos, jackets, and sweaters. My brand is different because it offers men who would otherwise have limited selection in luxury clothing garments that actually fit. We have a classic feel to the line, but with a contemporary look.
Creating a fashion line from the ground up is very difficult. To what do you attribute your success?
I attribute any success that I’ve had to this point to my team, Christel Penn – Designer/R&D and Amy Miller -Marketing/Merchandising. Both are very experienced in the industry and I listen to everything they tell me.
Football requires qualities like hard work, passion and drive. Do these qualities transition into the world of fashion design?
Yes all of those qualities definitely transition. Going into business can be very humbling and trying. You learn even more about yourself going through the trials and tribulations of starting a clothing line. I believe the biggest thing that I’ve acquired over this period is patience.
What can we expect to see in your upcoming collections?
This collection is a Limited Edition Collection before my official launch Spring 2012. You will see henley’s, v-neck tees, and cardigan hoodies.
The J. Zemar Premium Brand & the Lydia W. Smith Foundation will be teaming up for a celebrity weekend in Chicago (August 12th to 14th) to create and gain awareness towards sickle-cell anemia. Can you talk about this cause and why is it important to you?
Sickle cell anemia is a huge problem among minorities around the world. Over 2 million Americans are affected by the disease, 1 in 12 African-Americans have the trait, and 100k African-Americans have the disease. My mother (Lydia W. Smith) and my aunt have the disease and seeing them live with it and seeing all the mistakes the doctors have made treating them, I felt it was time to do my part in bring awareness, education, and financial relief to the patients.
What will the weekend’s activities include and how will these events contribute to the Lydia W. Smith foundation?
We have an exclusive rooftop party, celebrity bowling fundraiser, VIP dinner fundraiser, yacht party, VIP Experience at Horseshoe Casino, and Sendoff party. The events will build awareness and raise funds to go directly to patients with the disease. My foundation with provide financial relief by providing insurance for a one year period to patients. So they can get the treatment they need. Sickle cell is not considered a disability, but most people can’t work. If you can’t work, most likely you can’t afford insurance and without that, it makes it tough to get the treatment you need. So I feel this is the best way to reach patients directly.
Is this the first year that you’ve hosted the J. Zemar Celebrity weekend and are you looking to make this an annual event?
Yes this is the 1st year. And we’re definitely going to make it an annual event in Chicago and in other major cities as well, like New York, Miami, and LA.