Their contemporary fashions are sold in boutiques as far from Ohio as Japan and Australia. Their client list includes LeBron James. They work exclusively with domestic manufacturers and environmentally responsible fabric mills. They rebel against “big labels,” those macro corporations that risk homogenizing creative enterprises. They reject the notion of models, obscuring the faces of those that they use to highlight the clothes. They are Brian O’Neill and Sean Bilovecky, founders of Cleveland’s Wrath Arcane.
The concept was born in 2006, when boutique owner O’Neill approached longtime friend and designer Bilovecky with plans to launch a clothing line. In less than four months, the pair debuted Wrath Arcane’s first collection, a limited run founded on their initial patterns and designs. Within two weeks, the line was sold out at O’Neill’s Clothing Brigade boutique on downtown Cleveland’s West Sixth Street. “The response surprised us,” says Bilovecky. “The private label was an experiment for Brian’s store.”
The attention to detail and styling of the line introduced Bilovecky’s unique aesthetic that, much like the label’s mantra, didn’t take its cues from any of the world’s noted fashion houses. It was born in Cleveland, and Bilovecky understands the style constraints of his surroundings. “It’s the Midwest, so you can’t walk down the street wearing some ridiculous outfit.”
Bilovecky, who graduated from the Kent State University School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, collaborates with Dana Hardy, a Cleveland Institute of Art grad, whose adventurous designs complement Bilovecky’s technical acumen. Bilovecky's interest in supporting local talent extends to Wrath Arcane’s internship opportunities for design students, and he’s particularly impressed with those from his alma mater. “I don’t have to teach them anything,” he says. “Once you get into patterns and production, it gets more technical. The interns we get from Kent State, even on day one, can handle it.”
Although the label was designed for men, Bilovecky and Hardy have created forward-thinking fashions that aren’t always gender specific, with many women finding stylish functionality in Wrath Arcane clothes. Sara Quin, of Canadian indie darlings Tegan and Sara, is but one female fan of Wrath Arcane, especially the CVSTRO jacket from the label’s fall ’08 line.
After members of LeBron James’ entourage made repeat visits to Clothing Brigade, the King’s stylist met with Wrath Arcane’s founders, and Bilovecky found himself creating patterns for the company’s biggest client. “He is a 5X in the shoulders and a 1X in the waist,” says Bilovecky. “He’s shaped like a ‘V.'” James wore Wrath Arcane garments during an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and to the premiere of his film More Than A Game.
There are plans to open a Clothing Brigade location in Columbus’ Short North district, and Bilovecky and company are hard at work on developing Wrath Arcane’s fall 2010 collection. “We are in the process of rediscovering what it started as,” says Bilovecky “For a while, we were trying to make everybody happy, and it was getting too big.”
Click here to view Wrath Arcane’s Fall ’09 collection gallery.