NC State alum and owner of The Gent’s Life, Rob McKiver, isn’t your typical fashion designer. Growing up in Long Island and Queens, he’s a shining example of the quintessential “New York State of Mind” we often hear about in songs. Hustle, innovation and an unrelenting desire to live life on his own terms have proven to be a recipe for success for the entrepreneur. As a clothier, promoter, blogger, public speaker, activist and most importantly father; McKiver is using his love of fashion to spearhead an entire movement.
Even as a child, McKiver was expressing his individuality through fashion. He recalls being the kid in the picture with a “three piece white and pink suit” while the rest of his friends had on jeans, a t-shirt and rundown sneakers. When everyone else was spending $100-$200 on the latest name brands, McKiver was adding patterns to shirts and wearing pink long before society deemed it cool for men to do so. He explains, “Its always kinda just been a part of my make up I suppose.”
After a short stint in Corporate America, McKiver began his first entrepreneurial venture as a promoter. While promoting, he would also dabble in fashion as a consultant and stylist for various clients and well known entertainers. Utilizing those connections eventually afforded him the opportunity to became a full-time clothier when The Gent’s Life began to take off in 2011. Starting with socks, then incorporating slacks and shirts, he eventually graduated to tailor made suites. McKiver’s desire to add custom suites to his clothing line wasn’t just about capitalizing on a void in the market, it served a greater purpose. He explains, “Back in the day, it was nothing for a man to come out in a nice suit. Nowadays, the only time we’re known to wear a suit is for funerals and court dates. I just wanted to change that mentality.”
McKiver’s desire to “create a cultural shift” is precisely what advances The Gent’s Life beyond a brand into a lifestyle. He explains, “Everything with me is predicated upon love.” As such, The Gent’s Life movement consists of four elements; embrace fatherhood, create fellowship, create fashion and pay it forward. According to McKiver, “I can go fast by myself but I want to go further so I have to take other people along with me. I just use the fashion piece to open up doors.”
Sometimes to open doors, its about who you know just as much as it is about what you know. Upon invite from a college friend, McKiver attended fashion week in New York. While in attendance, he was literally surrounded by fashion icons. Eventually he found himself engaged in conversation with the son of a fashion powerhouse unbeknownst to him. That chance meeting, turned into him securing a spot in both New York and Paris fashion week.
Aside from looking forward to his impending debut in fashion week, McKiver is excited about other business ventures and philanthropic endeavors. He is currently mentoring his daughter who has her own fashion line, BLynn Clothing while working on the launch of a television series highlighting innovative children. For McKiver, Fashion is the vehicle, leaving the world a better place than he found it– is the destination.
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