Rob Gregg, Luxury Shoe Designer. New York

Words by, Igee Okafor & Rob Gregg

Photography by, Zach Ryan / Igee Okafor / Rob Gregg

Styling by, Igee Okafor / Zach Ryan / Rob Gregg

Visiting Rob Gregg, 29, in his New York apartment which he shares with his beautiful girlfriend, I was impressed by his extensive love for photography, films, novels, and coffee table books. If there was one new thing I learned about him through working together on a professional level for this collaboration, it is the fact he is indeed, a go-getter. There is nothing Rob cannot do. If something isn't right, Rob goes the extra mile to fix it while also giving it his all and staying enthused. 

Before Rob is the founder, and designer of men's shoe line, Rob McAllan, he is one of the most level headed, likable, and ambitious men I have ever had the pleasure of connecting with. Whether you realize it or not, you may have seen Rob's face before. Perhaps, in the July issue of GQ magazine with Kim Kardashian as the cover star. 

Known for his extensive resume and good looks that compare to the most sought after actors in Hollywood, I have carefully observed and have come to know Rob as a very intelligent, knowledgeable soul whose lifestyle revolves around courage and honesty; a classic man in his own right. A classic man positively rooted in his family history with an undying love for suspenders, original creatives, and great taste. 

I see Robert Gregg as an inspiration and a mentor, and you will see why as you read the interview below. We discuss his take on influence, GQ, the Rob McAllan brand, grooming rituals, his hope for young creatives, and menswear, of course. I promise you a high-minded read. Enjoy! 

Custom Shirt / BEAU . Tie / David Fin Ties . Suspenders / Topman . Wrist Watch / Omega Speedster Professional Mark II . Trousers / Hugo Boss

INTRODUCTION

HOW WAS GROWING UP FOR ROB?

I grew up in Northern California right by Stanford. I played every sport under the sun from baseball to soccer, track to tennis, swimming to water polo. I started my first business walking dogs and watering plants for everyone in the neighborhood as a kid, and I have had the entrepreneurial bug ever since.

LIVING IN NEW YORK

A FEW YEARS AGO, YOU MADE A BIG MOVE FROM CALIFORNIA TO NEW YORK. DO TELL ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE SO FAR. WHAT YOU THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE VERSUS WHAT IT ACTUALLY IS. 

I'll never forget my first night in New York. I landed late at night and I remember the sensation I felt seeing the Manhattan skyline lit up from across the water as I made my way into this great city to start a new adventure. New York has a pulse to it, it breathes opportunity and possibility. I arrived in this city with no expectations, and have been living in the moment, evolving at a break neck pace, and feeding off the energy the city gives me everyday. The New York lifestyle by definition is the opposite of settling. It's about achieving new heights and breaking barriers. I am in a perpetual state of growth, and I'm loving every minute of it. 

HOW DO YOU EAT IN NEW YORK?

When we (girlfriend) eat in, we order from this incredible meal delivery service called Blue Apron. It's something fresh and new every time, and we get to cook it together. When we go out, I try to go somewhere new every time. New York is home to some of the best chefs and widest variety in the world. I love experiencing new things. 

DINNER PARTY. 5 GUESTS. ANYONE IN THE WORLD. WHO ARE YOU INVITING?

My family. There is this myth around needing to seek profound wisdom from afar, when there is so much to learn from what's right in front of us. My family is my foundation, my support, my inspiration. I am so thankful for them and appreciate every moment we have together since we live across the country now. 

I HAVE KNOWN YOU TO BE A MODEL SINCE THE FIRST DAY WE MET THROUGH A GQ INSIDER EVENT. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE NOT MODELING OR ATTENDING EVENTS?

Expanding my strengths as an entrepreneur. Events and photos are about 5 percent of my daily life, the rest of the time I am meeting with new creative minds, working on my business; Rob McAllan, and seeking out new experiences to fuel my own inspiration. 

SOCIAL MEDIA

YOUR PERSONAL INSTAGRAM @MYUNFILTEREDLIFE HAS ABOUT 11,000 FOLLOWERS. WITH SOCIAL MEDIA AT ITS CAPACITY THESE DAYS, YOU ARE CONSIDERED AN "INFLUENCER" - AT LEAST TO SOME. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THAT?

Influence is not about likes and comments, it's about impact. I measure my influence on real world results and have built my power of influence on maintaining and growing true connections.

INSTAGRAM OR SNAPCHAT?

Instagram.

WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE INFLUENCERS?

The one, and only Igee Okafor, of course! 

I HAVE COME TO KNOW YOU AS A VERY PASSIONATE, WELL SPOKEN, AND POSITIVE GENTLEMAN. I'M SURE A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD AGREE. DO YOU FEEL PRESSURE TO UPHOLD THAT IDENTITY?

Never. There's something to be said about living an honest life. I've cast aside the notion of trying to please others, and instead focus on being the happiest I can be with myself. Life is more enjoyable that way. It's kind of you to describe me in that way, it's genuinely and truly who I am. 

Shoes by Rob McAllan (Left To Right) - The Old English, The Horseman, The Artisan, The Mariner, and The Knight. 

DEFINE THE ROB MCALLAN MAN.

The Rob McAllan man thinks differently. He's the guy about to step on stage to present the idea he's bet his whole life on, knowing the moments to come will either make or break his future, but he has ice in his veins. A steady breath, a fire in his eyes, and the courage to take that step forward with confidence. A Rob McAllan man is the man who opts in to take control of his future and greets the road less traveled with an intrepid grin and the courage to step fourth onto greatness. 

Custom Shirt / BEAU  . Jeans / Lucky Brand . Wrist Watch / Omega Speedster Professional Mark II

 

WHEN ARE THE SHOES ON SALE? AND WHAT PRICE POINTS ARE YOU AIMING FOR?

The new line of production is slated for completion for September/October of this year. Price points depending on style range between $595 - $650. 

WORK

YOU WERE RECENTLY FEATURED IN GQ MAGAZINE. DISCUSS YOUR RELATION TO THE GQ COMMUNITY.

GQ has been truly phenomenal. As a GQ Insider, the opportunities that have opened up for me have been truly amazing. I just shot my first two-page spread for the July issue. What I love about GQ is they fit completely in-line with my mentality for men's fashion. They're forward looking, they're constantly on the pulse, and they're trendsetters, rather than followers. 

TALK US THROUGH YOUR RESUME. ALL YOU HAVE DONE TO GET WHERE YOU ARE AND WHAT EXACTLY YOU'RE DOING NOW.

I am a serial learner and an active conduit of creative disruption. My experience ranging from the branding and advertising world, to managing and directing top tier brands and A List talent that has lead to evolution as an influencer and creative thinker. I have made a living on finding holes in industries and positively disrupting the landscape. Currently, I'm preparing to launch my first collection for my own luxury performance shoe line (samples pictured, left), Rob McAllan

YOUR SHOE BRAND. WHAT INSPIRED IT?

Rob McAllan has a rich backstory you can read in detail on www.RobMcAllan.com based on my family history. The name itself is a combination of the men in my family. Every element is tied to an authentic story relevant to my family, and the foundation is built upon a time when men (and women) took courageous acts to fight for what they believe in and take that extra step. Rob McAllan is about creating an identity for those willing to take that extra step and set themselves apart.

Shirt & Sneakers / H&M . Shorts / Hugo Boss . Wrist Watch / Omega Speedster Professional Mark II 

MENSWEAR

DISCUSS YOUR PREFERENCES AS IT PERTAINS TO MENSWEAR

I love how there's been a fundamental shift in the way men think about style. It used to be a taboo subject for men to talk about fashion, but two major linchpin moments completely altered that conversation. The first, when Mad Men gained popularity, women became more interested in classic styled men, so guys took note and started swapping hoodies from high-school for tailored jackets from Barneys. The second is when Jay-Z walked on stage with Tom Ford on the back of his jersey and a shout-out in his lyrics that made male designers accessible and coveted to a widespread audience. These moments brought resurgence in classic style and made it socially acceptable for men to take a fashion forward approach to their personal style. The timing is perfect for me and my style preference, because it's opened new lanes for designers like myself to tap into a new emerging market of men looking to up their style game. 

WHAT IS ROB GREGG'S SIGNATURE STYLE?

I am a big fan of suspenders. It's such a simple thing that you can add to your wardrobe. You have to have some confidence to wear it but if you have the courage to pull it off, it's a really nice touch. - and obviously, Rob McAllan shoes are a staple of every outfit I wear.

WHAT IS THE MOST TREASURED ITEM IN YOUR WARDROBE?

I actually think of it as a set. I love the Omega watch given to me on my 21st birthday that my father was gifted on his 21st birthday and passed down to me. My dog tags are my grandfather's who served as the Medical Commander for the Allied Forces, and whom I'm named after. He's a big part of the Rob McAllan brand. The ring is my family signet ring, which is also interwoven into the brand and is featured on the shoes in signature elements. My favorite suit is the custom suit that was actually the defining moment when I first entered into fashion. When I was a kid, my grandfather was my Superman. I actually believed with my full heart that he was Superman and every time I went to visit, there was some reason why he could not fly off the roof. There wasn't enough wind, the building wasn't high enough etc. There was always some excuse that to me, as a kid made sense. When passed, I wanted to keep him with me, so I custom designed this suit to keep his memory alive. On the outside it's clean and professional, but on the inside, the lining is made from a superman cape with the emblem and the words "Superman, shhh," and under the collar "Clark Kent" is sewn in. Lastly, my Rob McAllan shoes are an embodiment of all the generations in my family who have made me the man I am today. 

WHAT IS ON YOUR FALL WISH LIST? 

Flying to Italy, checking on the factory, making sure the samples are coming along well, and coming home with my first production pair. 

BIGGEST STYLE MISTAKE YOU HAVE EVER MADE?

Truthfully, loosely fitted jeans. Before I had a better knowledge of fashion, it was something where to the typical guy, it looked good, but for anyone who had a keen eye on fashion, they knew something was off. As soon as I recognized my own style and what looked good, I actually got rid of my favorite pair of pants, because they were too loose and didn't compliment the rest of my outfit. They actually distracted from the mindfulness and thoughtfulness I put into the rest of my look. 

ANY STYLE PET PEEVES?

I am not a huge fan of croakies on sunglasses. They are meant for boaters (if you're not familiar with them, it's a piece of buoyant material that wraps around the back of your glasses so they float if they fall off while sailing), but guys wear them more commonly when it's completely unnecessary. I am not a fan of that style that does not serve a function or fit the setting. The backwards hat for example provides no cover from the sun, so unless you're a baseball catcher, turn it around or leave it at home when you go out to the bar. 

SO, DO YOU ALSO HAVE ISSUES WITH PEOPLE WHO WEAR SUNGLASSES INSIDE?

To each their own truthfully. If you feel good doing it, by all means, but, you'll never find me indoors with shades on. I look people directly in the eyes and like to see clearly when I am talking to them.

WHERE DO YOU TYPICALLY GO TO SHOP?

I go to my custom atelier. My favorite one right now is located in Public Factory underneath the SoHo Grand Hotel. There's a gentleman by the name of Greg Willybiro who runs the design collective, featuring around 15 different designers on the showroom floor at any given time. I always get a taste of what's new, but my bread and butter is to go through books of fabrics and materials to create custom shirts and suits through the new menswear club he's launching called BEAU. 

GROOMING

SKIN CARE ROUTINE

I'm a fan of not putting a lot of stuff on your face. Try to go with what your natural skin behavior is and foster that. I shower in the morning and shower at night. Aside from that, I'll spot treat, but for the most part, I try to keep a really natural fresh face and skin with my natural oils.

HAIR ROUTINE

A lot of natural oils. I change my products every now, and then. Malin & Goetz has a phenomenal pomade. I like it because it's not too oily but it gives me the right amount of hold. Fellow Barber where I get my hair cut, has product I really like as well. Mitch The Man is what I'm using most frequently right now. They are in the process of promoting their new line and sent me some products I really like.

FRAGRANCES

Tom Ford. Just Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille. I found a scent that works for me, and I have enough variety with the rest of my style. It's easily one of my signatures. I love the way it smells. 

WORKING OUT

I am a morning gym guy for sure. Truth be told, it's always a challenge. It's not something that I get excited about but if I can start my day accomplishing at least one thing that was difficult, it makes the day that much easier because it puts me in the mindset to accomplish challenges. 

REFLECTION

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR CALLING IN LIFE IS? WHAT IS YOUR END GOAL ?

I want to change the world. I know that sounds grandiose, but to me it's attainable, because having even the slightest impact on someone's life, I find value in that. My greatest joy in life is meeting new people, figuring out where their challenges are, and helping them provide a path to accomplish those challenges and goals .With the Rob McAllan brand, I've built a roadmap to create a foundation extension upon profitability to create the Rob McAllan - Man Of The Year Scholarship with a portion of sales from each pair donated to a scholarship fund for young minds, young designers, and creatives that don't have the means. My vision is to provide a path for extremely talented, gifted individuals who are looking for just that one check or one person to to believe in them and give them a shot. The vision is authentic to my own story, and I know how hard it can be as a young entrepreneur to work so hard feeling like you're the only one fighting to push forward without a light in sight at the end of the tunnel. I would love to be that light to provide an opportunity and inspire younger generations to stay hungry and fight to achieve their dreams. 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE YOUNG PEOPLE WHO HAVE A DREAM AND THE SAME AMOUNT OF DRIVE AS YOU DO?

Always, always listen. Listening is the strongest tool that you have. There are things you know and whole world of things you don't know, and without listening, there is no way to close that gap. There will always be somebody smarter, who knows something or someone you don't, or thinks differently that will challenge your own thought. The more you can listen and be open to advice and change, disconnecting yourself from the emotional tie you may have to a particular thought, the better. In challenges, you either strengthen your position or recognize there may be a different way to do it and find a new path to accomplish the same goal. 

Custom Superman Suit / Klein Epstein Parker . Shirt / David Donahue

Dress Code showcases the personalities of a variety of men whose personal styles I admire. Sharing their personal experiences, aesthetic, and taste level, these men are redefining what it means to be a "real" man in today's society through their manifestations .