In the big pond full of big fish, one designer is beginning to make waves in the industry. Mhalik J., 23, is becoming one of those big fish. Rich Society, or RichSo as it is commonly seen, is everywhere! It has been seen on the likes of radio personalities, music artists, influencers, and just regular believers in the brand.
"Mhalik is an artist. I try to look at everything as an idea, and how to make stuff better. Anything that I see, I'm trying to make it better. That's who Mhalik is. Mhalik is someone who wants to see things better."
Like all up-start businesses, the cliche' of "humble beginnings" was apart of Mhalik's journey. The journey was kicked off by an influential cousin, whom himself was a fashion designer. Not to mention, some of his day-to-day activities played a part as well. Once upon a time, he made mixtape covers, however, he decided to utilize photoshop to design clothes. There were also a few more changes.
"I went through like three names. I was like a freshman in high school. My friends and my peers were tight knit. We knew there was a way out. All of my friends were artists, too. They were artists in their own way, I guess. So, I'm like we have a rich mind. The world is a society. This is my crew, Rich Society Crew. It died for a minute, but it came back in 2015. This time, I was full force on getting my message across through clothes."
Although Mhalik had a name for the brand, there was one reflective time in the journey that gave him confirmation. His journey began in the most unlikeliest of places. After a financial aid issue, he spurned the opportunity to attend Tribeca Flashpoint. He then attended Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville for a moment. After that, he came home.
"When I came home, it sucked! It literally sucked. I wasn't able to do nothing. I didn't have money. I didn't have a car. I didn't hang out with friends like that anymore. Then, I moved to Springfield (for school). I was away from the city. I was away from my son. I went through the motions for like three years. It was cool though because I found myself in those motions."
During that stint in Springfield, a trip to the bathroom changed the course of his life. On the bathroom break, he discovered his breakthrough. It was a breakthrough that introduced him to his purpose.
"One day, I was in my art class, and I was on my way to the bathroom. I was peeking through classrooms. I opened one of the classroom doors, and it was a screen printing class. I'm like 'I don't know what this is, but I've seen this before. I need to figure out what this is.' I found out what it was. I found that it was a screen printing class. I tried my hardest to get in this class for a week, but they kept saying no. I was so persistent, so the teacher was like whatever, and wrote me permit to join the class.
His persistence paid off as he was eventually paid to assist the instructor. However, the access to the equipment allowed him to print his own tees. From that day on, the Rich Society brand grew.
As the brand grew, so did his clientele. It's been seen on the who's who of Chicago. You may have seen it on internet sensation and recording artist, Korporate. It's been draped on Chicago radio personality, Ricky Rampage. Yet, there was one Chicagoan who represented RichSo on a really, really big stage.
"My favorite moment was when Valee performed wearing my brand at Lollapalooza. Another time, Valee was in Los Angeles, and he was wearing RichSo. Someone recognized the shirt, and was like 'Oh, I know this shirt! It's from Chicago!' And they didn't know who he was."
With great success comes great influencers. Mhalik credits his older cousin and the owners of the legendary Chicago boutique, Leaders. His goal is to see Rich Society on the likes of mainstream artists like Gunna, Youngboy Never Broke Again, and Young Thug. However, there is one icon that he'd like to see don the RichSo logo.
"I want to see Kanye West in it just to see him outside of Yeezy. He's an idealist, too. I admire him because of the barriers. As a fashion designer, he's broken barriers. I just like the style. I don't understand where he is coming from, but it's cool. Like when you look at the shoes, you're like 'I don't know about that' because of the style. Then, you look at it and you're like, 'This is a raw ass shoe!' But I don't know what's raw about it. But it's Kanye! It's like you know a pair of Jordan's or pair of Lebron's, but you know what the fuck a Yeezy is. People can say what they want, but you're going to recognize his shoe."
Despite all of his influencers, there's one person who drives him and motivates him more than anyone. It's his seven year old son, Mhalik, Jr.
"It's crazy because he's seven years old, and he says 'I want to be a designer like my Daddy'. At seven, he's telling me this, and I can't fail him. So if he's saying he wants to be a designer, I need to be a great designer, and have something I can give him. This isn't just an image in his head. This is a reality for him. 'My daddy is a designer, so I want to be a designer.' That's my biggest motivation right now."
All in all, the Rich Society brand is blazing a trail. The colorways are crazy. The style is authentic. Needless to say, Mhalik, you need to give complementary towels with each purchase. That way, people don't slip and fall from all the drip.
To find Rich Society and Mhalik J, follow him on Instagram @richsocietycrew or @richsoleek.