Mishka (Мишка) NYC
“In Russian, Mishka [pronounced: mee-shka] means “bear cub”. Bear cubs in general are intelligent, independent and gentle, but anger one and it’ll tear your face off!
Mikhail Bortnik and Gregory Rivera established the brand in 2003 and gave the word a new meaning by creating what is one of the most coveted underground street wear labels in the world today. Mikhail started drawing what would become the Bear Mop logo around 2000, after graduating from college. As life slowly passed him by and he became disenfranchised by what life had in store for him and working a 9-5, he began playing around with some ideas for a t-shirt line when the whole idea of calling it Mishka came about. Mishka means bear and is a derivative his name, Mikhail, or Misha. Spelling it in Cyrillic for aesthetics and menacing appeal.
Greg got started when he joined up with Mikhail when he moved to NYC in 2002 (from central Florida) and became and instant fan of what was going on in NYC at the time. He says “Moving to NYC was almost like a new chapter in my life. Learning about brands/stores like SSUR, aNYthing, Alife, Supreme, Union, it really opened my eyes to a new art form and the idea of Streetwear”
The start up was self-funded from Credit Cards and working on random reality shows. They have always just done what they were into and what they were proud to produce. Becoming more strategic and create items for a specific market later on, but always keeping growth organic and real. “We would rather people come find us and become fans rather than trying to convince them to be”
Based out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Mishka is a street wear brand that references any and all things the creators have been inspired by: The underground punk/ hardcore/post-hardcore & skate scene’s of the 80′s, heavy metal & indie rock, horror, comics, B-movies and pop culture in general.
With the success of Mishka’s graphic T-shirts, the brand was able to expand its line to a full collection ranging from denim, outerwear, knits, sweatshirts and accessories that are available worldwide at only the finest of shops. Mishka keep on delivering the good stuff with a great range of Mishka T-Shirts for 2010/11.
In the mix we have some classics like the Plaid Seafoam shirt, Bobble hats and now more recently for Autumn Winter 2010 the Heatseeker sweat, the High Impact T shirt and the Script New Era in Grey Wool.
Mishka NYC’s collection is diverse. Pieces range from men’s tees (Summer 09, Hallelujah Spring, Actual Pain Summer 09, and Online Exclusive collections), Caps (New Era Fitteds and Snapbacks), Shirts, tops, Hoodies, Knits, Jackets, Outerwear, Denim, Pants, shorts, accessories, toys, music skins and cheap seats.
Staying true to its roots, Mishka NYC is obviously inspired by everything New York – most notably the famous “Trouble and Bass” musicians. Its exceptional “tongue-in-cheek” aesthetics, bold colours and logo in incomprehensible text are just some of the many things that appeal to fans. Mishka clothing has some great illustration-intensive t-shirt collabs, with Lamour Supreme, Sara Martin and James Callahan., Photographer (of naked women) Richard Kern has teamed up with clothing label Mishka and printed some of Kern’s favourite photographs onto t-shirts. These t-shirts represent some of Kern’s best work but even if you’re not a massive fan of Kern then this is the perfect opportunity to simply display naked women about your person, which is always a winner. Mikhail also discovered the talent that is Jermaine Davis, AKA DUM who designed the infamous ‘Nagel Ranger’ t-shirt.
In the spirit of fashionable camaraderie, Mishka clothing has also collaborated with a number of streetwear giants, including New Era Fitted Caps, Swagger, Secret Base, K2 Snowboarding, Evil Design, Jk5, Cap City, Monkey Bizz. The 2010 Fall look book has photographed by Takuya Sakamoto. The line includes Mishka’s Dart cycling themed apparel.
Mishka clothing NYC conjures images of chainsaw wielding teddy bears and robotic horror imagery, from Cyco Simon to The bear Mop Logo. We love Mishka clothing because they are so incredibly diverse and you can tell from the mix tapes that are on Doombox that they will never be part of the mainstream and the mainstream will never understand what they do, therefore they cannot copy it (which is another reason to love them).
Music has a huge influence on their message and design. Mikhail not only has one of the largest collections of music and an amazing catalogue of symbols and references stored in his head. “There’s almost always some hidden musical reference in everything we do, sometimes it’s overt, sometimes it’s really buried, but it’s there and it’s always awesome to get emails from people who catch it.” They are very music-centric here with almost always some hidden musical reference in everything they do, sometimes it’s overt, sometimes it’s really buried, but it’s there . Both the guys ride bikes and have now set up D.A.R.T – Death Adders Racing Team which they feel is “a group of like-minded cyclists pushing the sport to new bounds, which Mishka are more than happy to get behind and support with gear. The team started when John Prolly, John runs the team and calls the shots) who is the captain of the team and a member of the Mishka family, approached them with the idea way back and guys like John, Tony Wilis and Luke were doing tricks with fixed gears that hadn’t been done before against conventional wisdom, but there they were doing it.
True to the Mishka clothing ethos Greg feels that “People dress the way they do to express themselves. I don’t care if their identity is because of their favourite rapper or because they want their t-shirt and shoes to match. As long as it’s their own, I’m all about it.” Mikhail adds “The main urban style that always irked me seems to be dying off: baggy, oversized clothing. I’m glad to see people are wearing their actual sizes these days, or even tighter shit! The more recent urban trend that bugs me is the “rocker” look in hip-hop. Dressing like Tommy Lee circa 2001 is not rebellious or even remotely rock star. It’s more a “bro-ski douche bag” look than anything else. When rappers start wearing Crass tees with the sleeves cut off, tight white jeans, 16 hole docs, and MC jackets, then I’ll be into it.
Fast forward to 2010 and Mishka now have 3 stores worldwide and the Mishka flagship store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn interior is adorned with kitschy and off-base items from banners to masks and toys. These one of a kind items are often found through Mishka founder Greg Rivera’s various trips through local weekly swap meets and flea markets. Take a trip with Greg on one of his trips which are the catalyst for some of his inspiration.
Mishka recently wrapped up the Fall 2010 look book for its D.A.R.T. Collection, which features appearances by sponsored riders John Prolly (D.A.R.T. Manager), Wilis, Shea, Tone and Jeremiah. The imagery itself captures the fellas in action as they ride around New York City, with photography from Takuya Sakamoto.
No doubt these guys are on a mission; let’s see what 2011 brings….
The fact that they do what they want and what they are into combined with a genuine and active passion for their industry is a key factor in their success which has helped them gain fans all across the globe