Why do we insist on going to the mall and buying the same generic designs like everyone else? Turns out, Corey Roth, co-founder of premiere head wear brand Melin has the answer. Until now, Corey explains, men haven’t had the option to source high quality, luxury snapbacks in an assortment of designs, and showstopping materials. In a world where more men are sporting snapbacks, breaking conventions, Corey and his partner Brian took it upon themselves to create a brand new men’s fashion category specifically for those who share their vision of attaining more from life. For them, and the men of Melin, it’s about breaking the mold, setting a new “Male Standard,” and doing things their way “because we can.”
Melin was founded by Brian McDonell and Corey Roth as a company with the goal “to create a new category of luxury headwear with focus on details, style and innovation.” Each Melin hat comes with a leather travel box, a certificate of authenticity, and is guaranteed to be made from premium materials.
Discover how each hat becomes the “billboard” that is the vision of Melin men; those who are confident, affable, and who demand more from life. From luxe Italian cashmere to Napa leather, these prestigious designs are rocking the fashion world, turning consumerism on its head, and setting a new standard in men’s fashion; all with a do or die attitude. Corey talks us through the birth of Melin, the adversities that he and Brian faced, how they overcame those challenges, and why these hats are unlike anything you have ever experienced, but will want to immediately.
“Melin has actually been in development for over 3 years now and it’s taken a lonnnnng time and a lot of sacrifice to get here,” explained Brian McDonell. “Corey and I started working on this from our living rooms…We would switch off driving to each other’s places after work and stay up all night writing and re-writing the business plan.”
We reached out to Brian and asked him about building and growing Melin over the next few months and beyond, how the company has quickly garnered an amazing team of industry veterans, and how it feels to be settled into the company’s new office in Laguna Hills.
Where did the name Melin come from?
Melin stems from the word milliner. Dating back several centuries, if you wanted a custom suit, you’d go see the tailor. If you wanted to a custom hat made, you’d go see the local milliner. We took the word milliner, shortened it, and kind of spun it around to form the word Melin.
What inspired the Melin brand?
My partner Brian and I, we have long apparel and fashion backgrounds. About four years’ ago, we were looking at the market in general, at all the trendsetters and the pacemakers, the Jay-Z’s, the Kanye’s, the guys that set trends around the world; these guys literally have the best of everything, limited edition Jordan’s, True Religion jeans, $50,000 watches. They drive the best cars, they drink the best champagne, and everything on their body, everything that they surround themselves with was a premium version. They were always pairing up their outfit and lifestyle with a hat. They never had the option for a premium, luxury, baseball-style hat or snapback that complemented and coordinated with the rest of their wardrobe.
Could the same be said of other men’s accessories?
We noted that there’s literally premium or designer version of every category in fashion that you can think of. From shoes, socks, wallets, belt buckles, sunglasses, there’s always a premium version, or there’s always been a premium category created, and we felt like it had been completely overlooked here, in a multi-billion dollar industry. Really, we felt like if we weren’t the ones to set out to create the words first premium hat and premium hat category, that it was the type of thing that sooner or later, somebody else was going to figure out, so, it was one of those things where if I didn’t do it I’d know that I would lose sleep over it for the rest of my life, knowing that someone else out there was going to do it. We set out to create a truly new category by sourcing the best fabrics from around the world, regardless of how long it took us, and set out to make the best hats at all cost, whatever that took.
So was it purely the gap in the market or do you have a passion for hats?
Brian and I are hat guys. We both have huge collections; you would never find us without wearing a hat. As we got older, your styles and your tastes change, we wanted to have an accessory, or wear clothes or a have a wardrobe that showed our accumulated status, that we’re progressing in life. There was really no headwear brand that allowed us to do that. Usually, most hats within this market are just an extension of an apparel brand; they’re kind of an afterthought on a category that nobody has put too much time into. Nobody had ever spent all his or her focus on headwear. We put everything we had into headwear to make the best hats that have ever been created.
What has the response been like to this new luxe range?
When we start talking about the materials, people are blown away. Nobody’s ever heard of using things like stingray leather, fish and eel leather, or fabrics that you hear about in couture runway fashion in hates; so we’re really taking fabrics that people use in luxury categories, it’s just no one’s ever had them packaged here on your head. The cool thing is, people like to have premium things, and people spend a lot of money on shoes, or bags, or watches, but your hat is literally the billboard on your head. When you want a super-premium accessory or piece of apparel, you get no credit, or you get no recognition if you’re wearing it out to a club. People don’t see your shoes, so if you want to make a statement, or wear something that gives a peek into who you are, what you value, and what you’re about, your head is honestly the most expressive place that you could do that.
Besides the high-end material, is there a different process in how your hat is made?
It’s a longer process and with a much greater focus on attention to detail. Every one of our hats is hand inspected, so where most pieces of headwear, maybe only one out of 100, or one out of 1,000 would actually be quality controlled. We spend a little bit more of an investment during the quality control process, to make sure that every piece is touched and reviewed, before it is shipped. It passes the inspection process, then it goes in to our Melin travel box, we stamp the certificate of authenticity, and it’s good to go. If it doesn’t pass, obviously it never is shipped.
How did the marketing process come around?
The three pillars if you will, that Melin was founded on, were details, materials, and innovation. The materials are obviously one piece of that, but innovating and being a leader, not somebody who’s just following trends or worried about what everybody else is doing, are important to us. We set out to create the best hats that we think are cool and that the world will think are cool. It’s not so much let’s take what everybody else is doing and trying to package that into Melin. We truly want to be pushing the boundaries and coming up with designs and styles that you know, are unique and independent from everybody else.
You have people follow you, instead of you following other people.
Exactly. Especially now, with the way that so much exposure and a lot of the marketing around the world is social media driven, it can really be a fickle process to create exposure and brand awareness. You can be put on the map today, and forgotten about tomorrow. Trends explode and die quick; we wanted something that would have longevity to it. One of the words when we were first forming the brand that we wanted was the word timeless. We want a design that you would feel good about wearing six months from now, two years from now, five years from now. Something that’s classic; we feel like if you’re timeless, and you’re classic, then you’re always going to be in style.
Where does your passion come from?
Our mantra is to think anything big is possible, view adversity as motivation, never get outworked, success requires sacrifice, stay committed, push the pace, control your destiny, and believe. I mean, four years ago, when it was just Brian and I, when Melin was just an idea, we were kind of on step one of wanting to build a premium brand that would take over the globe essentially, how do you go about doing that? We were in that position where we could spend a lot of time researching how to do something, going to seminars, reading books and asking questions. Or, we could jump in the pool, and learn to swim when we get there.
What has hindsight taught you about that process?
We didn’t really know how we would get to the point we are today, we just knew that if we committed, and always continued to push forward, one baby step at a time, not always knowing the answers of you know, how to get from point A to point B, but knowing if we just committed to getting there, somehow, some way, we’ll figure it out. That’s what this whole process has been. The whole ‘because we can’ mantra comes from him and I four years ago, when we would start telling people what Melin was going to be, and what our plan was, and how we were going to create the best hats in the world. Our college buddies, people we had grown up with got to the point where they would say, why the hell do you guys think you guys can make the best hats in the world? Or why do you think you’re qualified, why do you think you’re going to be the ones? Our answer was always, because we can.
How did those experiences shape things to come?
For us, it was believing we could do it, not always knowing how we were going to do it, but just committing to getting it done, no matter what it took. I mean, think big, this whole thing was just an idea four years ago, view adversity as motivation. The whole thing is you have to be willing to take on the world and not be afraid to stand alone. Understand that there’s going to be a lot of haters, and you’re going to have to be able to move the world to get people to back you. Committing to that early and knowing that’s a great path is part of it. The never get outworked part, that’s kind of just the grind.
What’s the Melin movement?
We have the Melin street team all across the country, and it really revolves around those core values that we just discussed. People who relate to that, as our boots on our ground, are our militia to spread the Melin word. They put stickers up; help us spread Melin’s exposure all around the country in major cities. It’s really four people that believe in what I just said, relate to that, are thinking big, and are not afraid to be the loner going against the grain. Anyone that relates to that, it’s always good to surround yourself with like-minded people. Positive energy breeds positive energy. It started with us, and so slowly, we’re building this team around the country that aligns with the way we see things as well.
What’s your vision for the future of Melin?
Just continue to innovate. Continue to shock the world every time we release something. We always want to be pushing the boundaries, we always want to be innovating the headwear market, and I think there are many exciting things in 2014. We want Melin to be synonymous with the word luxury when it comes to the headwear category. There was a time that these categories didn’t exist in other segments as well. There was a time where there were no premium denim brands, and now it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. There were times where no premium watches within the street or action sports segments, and then Nixon comes along and identifies that hole in the market. We’ve seen these categories created.
How does it work in terms of your business, having a partner?
It’s important to choose your partners wisely, because you spend a lot of time with them. At this point, I mean, we’ve, we’re family. We’re in the office more than we’re at our own homes. Often times we’re with the Melin team more than we’re with our wives, our family, or girlfriends, or whatever that may be, so you definitely need to choose your partners wisely. Having a bigger team you can build with a bunch of people all pushing the momentum the same direction, it’s a heck of a lot easier than doing it on your own. I really can’t imagine having gone through this process without Brian, who I started with, and then from there, the team we’ve built, because, as I said, it’s a big undertaking to start something from scratch. The bigger team you have, the more qualified people all working for the same cause, the easier it’s going to be.
What’s your Male Standard?
I never know who I’m going to meet on any given day. You always want to be on point; you always want to be on your A game, because today might be that day that changes my life. You always want to be prepared. Opportunities don’t always come along every single day, and you need to be ready for them when they present themselves. You can’t take a day off, or else you might just be missing something that will change your life forever.
Where can we get the product?
The first delivery ships in November for the holiday season, and will be available at MelinBrand.com, as well as the top sneaker boutiques, and street wear boutiques in major cities across the country, nationwide. On social media, we’re @MelinBrand or Melin Brand. That’s our username on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, all your major social media sites, come check us out.
Please check out a lot of our hard work at MelinBrand.com
Please share this post by clicking the below icons. Thank You!