It’s time for another LacednLit Friday Focus where we take a deeper dive into some of the lesser known, more inspiring streetwear brands on the come up. This week we had a chance to have a conversation with Shaun Nath from Mad Rabbit Kicking Tiger.
About the Brand
MAD RABBIT KICKING TIGER (M.R.K.T.) is a Los Angeles-based accessories label established in 2010 by Harvard-trained architect, Tom Pen. Our designs are inspired by architectural concepts of clean and pure form. Structure, function and material innovation are our guides as we push the boundaries of design in every bag we create. M.R.K.T. reflects the thriving urban streets of the world where creativity radiates, unconventional ideas are tested, and individuality inspires. The concept represents two driving forces, consisting of an unyielding inner creative energy responsible for conceptualizing the creative visions of the design and the kinetic release of the creative impulse in which transforms the creative visions into a tangible design. M.R.K.T. draws its futuristic and functional inspiration from the modern architectural surroundings and from the minds of artistic intellects. The culmination of this duality functions to represent the modern class of trendy and intelligent urban explorers of knowledge, design, and art.
Hey Shaun thanks for taking the time to talk, so your tagline is: Where architecture meets fashion. How did that come about?
The brand was actually created by my partner, Tom Pen who has a very strong architectural background.
What I first notice about M.R.K.T. products are they don’t look like any other bags. Really clean lines and bold geometric shapes.
Yeah all the designs come from Tom’s love for architecture and it goes back to his time in Shanghai, which has a very dynamic history in architecture. Everything is very structural.
Yes. Structural is actually a perfect word to describe your products. How did you guys start creating products to bring to market?
You know it kind of all began when Tom worked at an architectural firm called MRT in Shanghai. They had this large laser cutter that was used for making models of homes and it was getting grossly underutilized so Tom started experimenting cutting different materials. He started experimenting with synthetic felt material that cut cleanly without the fibers melting and you could easily tear off the edges. He made some cardholders and wallets for friends, which became very popular.
I see, so those wallets are what got him started into bags and cases?
Yeah he always had a passion for bags. He created our first backpack, the Carter that was very structural; it was able to hold its shape without being too rigid.
I also notice that you use socially responsible materials. Let’s talk about that for a minute. Does that mean you don’t use leather or any animal related materials
We use all synthetic materials and recyclable materials whenever possible. We try to be socially responsible by creating guilt-free products.
Is there a signature piece that put you on the map or one that you’re most proud of?
A couple come to mind. First is our Carter Backpack, which I mentioned earlier, and it basically still remains the same today with just a few modifications. It’s a best seller. The other is the Mateo Backpack. People love the shape, but it’s the practicality that makes it one of our most popular items.
What brands back in the day inspired you?
Personally I was inspired by brands like Original Penguin; and similar brands the ones that broke mainstream tradition.
What brands do you respect today?
We have lots of respect for Raen Eyewear. They really have made attention to detail a focus of their brand and it shows. Another brand we really respect is Staple Pigeon who we recently did a nice collaboration with. One more I want to mention is Ministry of Supply who are actually MIT grads. Really love their innovations when it comes to work apparel.
Speaking of collaborations, I also see that you’ve done some really tasteful collabs with some major brands. Do you reach out to the brands do they reach out to you? How do you make the connections?
To be honest they really come from just random encounters. For example I was on a bus headed to the Philippines and just happened to have the luck of sitting next to a very cool guy who turned out to be Jeff Staple. We just started with a conversation and then we’re making products together. Gotta love the universe and the way it works. Really there weren’t any formal introductions for our collaborations. They are pretty much selective not forced.
What’s on the horizon for M.R.K.T.?
We’re going to continue to target the creative professional which is a very strong niche following for us. In fact, most people that purchase one of our bags have purchased in the past and purchased for a friend or relative. We’ll also continue along our path of functionality and usability. Our new Zachary Backpack is an item that we know our followers are going to love.
More from M.R.K.T.