Quincy Moore: finding inspiration anywhere

The Knowlita founder talks fashion, travel, and the importance of failure.

Travel breeds the need to experience, feel, and do the unfamiliar. But even when your plans take you out of your regular day-to-day, there are some parts of your routine that you can’t leave at home. Furthermore has partnered with the Platinum Card from American Express to show you how entrepreneurs in fashion, design, and other fields take the most essential aspects of their lifestyles with them on their adventures—anytime, anywhere.

Quincy Moore, the founder and creative director of New York City lifestyle brand Knowlita, has a knack for clever phrases. His lightbulb moments usually strike when he’s traveling: He coined “New York or Nowhere®,” a trademark of his brand, while on a train from Paris to Amsterdam in 2015. “My best ideas come to me while I’m on the road,” says Moore, a Platinum Collective advisory board member, who just got back from three weeks in Europe and hopes to visit Tokyo sometime next year.

At its core, he says, Knowlita is a love letter to New York. “I was always really drawn to the hustle of New York and I wanted to be in the middle of where culture happens,” says Moore, who grew up in the Southwest. “When I first moved to the city, I was inspired by the downtown neighborhoods and became enamored with the energy of the communities there. Knowlita was (and is) a reflection of that feeling. It’s a celebration of what I love.”

Here, the 31-year-old designer talks about his other influences.

What’s your creative process like?

It varies. The magic and production of Knowlita happens in central Massachusetts. When I’m there I get up and work all day in the studio—this amazing, whitewashed space in an old toothbrush factory. When I’m in New York, between meetings, calls, and too many Uber rides, it’s often challenging for me to get into that creative groove. I’ll usually take one night or a Sunday afternoon each week to shut everything down and just design.

So, you like to leave New York to design about it?

As much as I love New York, I also try to leave frequently—at least once a month. It’s important for me to miss the city, for creative reasons and otherwise. That innocent, childlike rush of excitement I feel when crossing the Williamsburg Bridge back into Manhattan alleviates any jadedness and reminds me anew why I love this place.

Do you listen to music while you work?

Rap, mostly. Drake is probably my guiltiest pleasure. This year I’ve also been listening to a lot of Chance the Rapper, David Bowie, and this English band called The Kooks.

What about exercise?

I’ve taken up boxing recently, but basketball is the sport I love to play and watch.

LeBron James was spotted wearing a Knowlita “Cleveland or Nowhere” shirt at the 2016 World Series.

Shouts to LeBron. He changed my life. Beyond the plug, I really believe LeBron is a model citizen. Nothing about him is contrived, and the work he’s doing with his school is inspiring.

Who else inspires you?

My grandfather is my ultimate hero. When he came to America, his first job was selling women’s stockings door to door on the Lower East Side, the same streets that I frequent today. He eventually saved enough money to buy a retail store in Queens that brought to life a concept he’d been playing with: designer goods for less. That shop was my family’s legacy. It was there for 40 years. He’s the literal embodiment, beyond cliché, of the American Dream.<br>

So fashion runs in the family. How would you define your personal style?

Simple, with eccentric moments here and there. I’m still flirting with streetwear, although I’ve been going back to my high school roots and embracing prep a little bit recently. This summer was a lot of pastel-colored tees, countless polos, and pants rather than jeans. I’m a bit tired of chasing trends and tend to stick to the brands I know and love, like Saint Laurent, Acne, Theory, and Knowlita, of course.

What kind of shoes do you wear?

I have a deep affection for sneakers. The Jordan 1 is probably my favorite of all time. I have 15 or 20 pairs, with Virgil’s rendition from last year being my most prized at the moment. I also wear a lot of Common Projects. They’re classic, durable, and I can style them a million different ways.

Which quote inspires you most?

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment,” from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Being honest and real and following my instincts are important to me, both professionally and personally.

What’s your advice for people trying to follow their dream?

Adopt an obsession with learning. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and who know more than you do about whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish. You have to dive right in, no helmet. Learning by failing is just part of being young and ambitious.

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