Robin Porter is a contemporary Renaissance man in every sense of the term, whether it be designing for globally recognised fashion and sportswear brands such as Nike, Stussy and 55DSL, producing music for his label Immigrant Records or directing short films.
Porter grew up during Manchester’s acid house era of the late 80’s and the outdoor party scene of the early 90’s – this was his introduction into the emerging UK music, fashion and design culture. Taking inspiration from the attitude and output of Factory Records, Peter Saville, New Order and the iconic US DJ’s from Chicago and Detroit that played at the Hacienda during this period, he decided to give it a go himself.
Two weeks after graduating university, Porter jumped on a plane to Los Angeles with his portfolio and a bag of 12″ vinyl. He founded Immigrant Records in 1998 and helped introduce the “Tech House” sound of the UK to the US, while working with artists to create a unique sound for the label. The name Immigrant Records was a nod to living in the US without a green card, but nobody really needs to know that do they?
Now back in Manchester, he has launched A PROPER AGENCY – a boutique creative agency partnering with lifestyle brands on their strategy, product design and compelling digital content. Recent clients include So Cal menswear brand DTE of California who produce finely crafted U.S. made luxury menswear, street wear brand Judge and Jury (now available online at House Of Fraser) and L.A. based tattoo royalty ‘Jun Cha’ of Monarc Studios who just received a new brand identity from the agency.
Porter’s plans for PROPER, include building long term relationships with current clients, working with inspirational new companies and creating and launching it’s own fashion and music brands. ‘It’s all about having an international vision but maintaining that Northern integrity and sensibility.’
What was your big break into the industry ?
I don’t ever recall a specific break but I have definitely taken the opportunities presented to me with both hands. I was fortunate to experience Manchester music scene in the late 80’s which continues to inspire my work and outlook on life. I was also obsessed with American hip-hop and sport culture and my decision to live and work in the US for 10 years opened many doors, but I’ve always been very clear about what I want to acheive. My career has been a combination of vision, passion and hard graft.
If you could have invented anything what would it be ?
A time transporter. For me it’s all about moments in time that changed the course of history but how about when Jordan threw down the very first dunk from the ‘free throw’ line or when DJ Pierre discovered that a piece of kit discarded by Roland called the TB-303 could actually be used to create a new musical genre coined ‘acid house’ – I’d have to be in that room to witness that epiphany. Finally I’d journey back to discover how or who created us. Deep, but I’d be sorted for life from the royalties from my book sales.
If you had one day to live what would be your biggest regret ?
I don’t have any regrets. Like everybody else, I’ve made mistakes in both my life and career but you can’t change what happened yesterday. I’ve been very lucky to make my passions my daily work and be paid for it so I really can’t complain.
What inspires you ?
Traveling to new places is such a buzz, meeting new people and experiencing other cultures is both humbling and inspiring but raising my kids and watching them develop is truly a gift. Fundamentally I suppose I’m also a sucker for an underdog and there’s nothing more emotional to me than seeing someone succeed when the odds are stacked against them.
If you could only wear one brand/Designer for the rest of your life who would it be ?
I don’t enjoy wearing one particular brand or style. I like to mix up classic sartorial with street and sportswear and Mark McNairy ticks all those boxes currently.
If you could give your teenage self advice, what would it be ?
This is very on topic as I have an 18 and a 3 year old son. I would advise myself to maintain my individuality and never get sidetracked from achieving my goals and remember that time is precious, so don’t procrastinate and always do today rather than put off until…pretty much everything a teenager doesn’t want to hear!
The Delano in Miami is always a pleasure as is as the Roosevelt in Los Angeles.
What would be the one thing you would rescue if your house was on fire ?
After the kids it would be my hard drives containing a lifetimes body of work, photos of family and friends, plus my Techniques 1210’s and as much of my vinyl collection as I could carry. The rest is replaceable.
What piece of clothing would you relegate to Room 101 ?
It has to be my raving dungarees from circa 86-88. Those bad boys experienced some crazy days but the off-the-shoulder-strap vibe hasn’t been a good look since the Daisy Age.
What is your most memorable moment ?
The mixed emotions of intense love and utter fear during the birth of my sons. No other moment has come close.
What track would always get you on the dancefloor ?
Here’s today’s top 5…but tomorrow’s a new day.
‘Voodoo Ray’ – A Guy Called Gerald
‘Someday’ – Ce Ce Rogers.
‘Me, Myself And I’ – De La Soul
Move your Body’ – Marshall Jefferson
‘Ain’t Nobody’ – Chaka Khan
(Right that’s us off for a dance around the photocopier)