From its humble beginnings in a garage in San Diego, California, Rufskin has become a global fashion powerhouse.
The backstory: founders Hubert Pouches and Douglas Coats met in Paris in the 1990s. Hubert ran a modelling agency and Douglas – originally from Portland, Oregon -- was one of his models. They became friends and business partners, and, in 2002, relocated to California to set up a home and a business.
The Rufskin look is inspired by the feel of Southern California, and the desire to design and manufacture everything in the USA, rather than in an evil sweatshop.
In their research, they found that there was a yawning gap in the menswear market – where were the clothes that looked sexy, but were also better fitted and well crafted? As well, there was a need for just the right mix of athleticism and fashion (not as easy as it sounds). The boys got to work.
Once upon a time, Hubert designed for women. He worked with a manufacturer in Brazil whose main customer was Victoria’s Secret, so he had an understanding of highlighting and accentuating natural curves.
The duo first offered low-rise jeans, but adding in a few items of underwear and swimwear – simply to compliment the denim -- is what made the world take notice. They quickly expanded into sports and athletic wear, as well as specialty leather goods such as jackets and pants.
In the years since, the company has opened a series of brick-and-mortar stores, and is sold in various boutiques and retail establishments around the world. Its online advertising is considered bold and daring – Rufskin works with well-known photographers in international locations. In 2015, the company collaborated with Tom of Finland with an exclusive collection.
In an interview on his website, Hubert says, “This is a lifestyle product, and you respond emotionally to such a thing, not always practically. But I see myself as a craftsman, not a manufacturer. I create, photograph, build an image, set a brand template – as part of a brilliant team that works more like a family business. We get loyalty from our customers, and give the same back, and that means surprising and delighting, pushing ourselves and so pushing them.”