The Underratedness of HBO's How To Make It In America February 03 2016
Around the time that I founded Exclusively Kristen, my friend told me about a show on HBO called How To Make It In America and I was hooked after the first episode. The show is extremely well-done with interesting and multi-dimensional characters, and realistic depictions of what it's like to navigate life in NYC and the fashion world. How To Make It In America is about 20-something friends, Ben and Cam, who are trying to survive NYC's fashion scene. I can DEFINITELY relate to the ups and downs of not just living in the Big Apple, but also navigating the competitive fashion world.
Ben and Cam are starting a brand of retro jeans called Crisp. They begin with a $3,000 high interest loan from Cam's cousin Rene who just got out of prison. Next, they must find a manufacturer, which is difficult (not so much on the domestic end nowadays because of Maker's Row), because many designers will not reveal who their manufacturers are. On the show, Cam tries to hustle one shop owner into revealing his manufacturer, but the owner is hip to the game and sends Cam all the way to the Bronx with a false address. They finally find a tailor to make the sample in time to show a prominent Japanese buyer, but Ben is not happy with it. However, the buyer likes Ben's t-shirts and orders 300. Ben must now scramble to get the money for production. Rene is also an interesting character. He's an ex-con trying his hardest to become a legitimate businessman, but seems to get sucked back into his sordid ways due to a series of bad luck.
When one is working with a small budget one must really know how to stretch a dollar without compromising vision and quality. Ben and Cam need a lookbook for Crisp, so they get their friend to model and opt for an outdoor urban backdrop as opposed to hiring a professional model and renting out a photography studio. Ben and Cam also have side jobs to support themselves and earn money to invest in Crisp.
The first season focuses on the ups and downs of starting a fashion brand while the second season focuses on growing a fashion brand. Season two begins with Ben and Cam organizing a pop up shop and brand party for Crisp that goes awry, but ends up getting the brand a lot of good press. Ben catches the eye (and bed) of legendary designer Nancy Frankenburg who gives Crisp its big break, but there's a catch: Crisp's designers must work under Nancy's husband. Will they trade their creative control of the brand for ample funding and access to the people in the fashion industry who can make Crisp a global brand? You must watch to find out!
I love How To Make It In America and I couldn't believe that it was cancelled after two seasons because the show couldn't amass a large fan base. Honestly, How To Make It In America is a lot more realistic than most shows that depict life in NYC. One of my favorite scenes is when Cam illegally and cheaply sublets an apartment in a housing project because he wants a view of the river, which is out of the question unless you have $5,000 a month to spend on rent. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box in order to get what you want out of The City.
Now I leave you with How To Make It In America's very apt theme song: