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Posted: Thursday, Nov. 08, 2012

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Rachel Sutherland

Rachel Sutherland has been a professional journalist for 14 years, most recently as the Style Editor for the Charlotte Observer. Her writing and styling work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country. She is often a featured guest on syndicated radio programs The Matt & Ramona Show and The Satisfied Life. Find her at www.rachelsutherland.net or email her: rachel@rachelsutherland.net.

It’s hard to put Russell Simmons in a box. His creativity can’t be contained, as evidenced by his sprawling business empire, dating back to his role in the founding of Def Jam in 1983.

It’s the relaunch of a fashion line — Argyleculture — that brings the vegan, Yoga-loving, prolific Twitterer and rap pioneer to Charlotte for an in-store visit at Belk SouthPark, 2-4p Saturday. The line, which will be carried in 15 Belk stores, “represents a ‘modern’ American point of view, which is multi-racial, yet singularly cultural, therefore, genuinely speaks to all races, colors and backgrounds.”

We caught up recently by phone for a quick Q&A.

What’s behind the name Argyleculture? “It speaks the language, it’s the urban prep thing. It’s a statement of the culture. You can wear a cardigan and Tartan fabric, but that doesn’t speak to the a whole collection and what it describes. It never goes out of style. There are moments where more prevalent, but it’s about classic American clothes.”

Who is the Argyleculture customer? “From the board room or Yale or right out of college, they’re dressed like my collection. …It’s the post hip-hop graduate, the urban graduate. All those people grow up and what do they do? They put on Ralph (Lauren) and Tommy (Hilfiger) which is fine, but the urban graduate who has no designer who speaks their language, which is a more colorful, edgy version of the classics.”

What do you see as the defining piece of the Argyleculture collection? “We try to not have a single defining piece, but if could be gingham shirts. Ours have a little more edge, with classic inspirations. It’s all in the way we deliver them. We have a duffle coat made out of fleece. It’s just a little more fun, we give it a personalization that is newer and a little fresher.”

Talk to me about the partnership with Joseph Abboud: what is different this time than in previous attempts to launch Argyleculture? “That is key — (Abboud) really inspired me, worked with me. Before I was begging for better fabrication, I had to force ideas, quality into the clothes. (Abboud) has been great at finding ways to figure out the quality and creativity. He’s upgraded my game so much. It’s better than I could have imagined.”

Shoppers who spend $100 or more on Argyleculture merchandise will have access to the VIP line and take home a picture with Russell. Customers will also be able to register for a chance to win a $500 Argyleculture wardrobe.

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