Hustler. Household Name. Hat Guy. Hang out with Marc Eckō at his North Jersey homestead.
“These days, I pretty much only shave for weddings or funerals.”
The large gate that stands sentry in front of the driveway to Marc Eckō’s New Jersey property swings open and our car slips through. It’s a pristine fall morning and sunlight has just begun to appear over the tops of the tall trees that dot the landscape. The owner of the house greets us in his large kitchen, holding a coffee mug. His hand goes to his face as he remembers why we’re here. “You aren’t going to ask me to shave, are you?” He half-kids. “These days, I pretty much only shave for weddings or funerals.”
For anyone in the Tri-State area with a passing interest in clothing, hip-hop or entrepreneurship, Eckō is practically a household name. Over the last 25 or so years, he’s built a billion dollar business that began by selling t-shirts out of his parent’s garage. Now, as the Chief Creative Officer of his company, Marc Eckō Enterprises, he wears many hats – designer, philanthropist, even author (with the release of his 2013 book, Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out). His latest project is Marc Eckō Cut & Sew, a men’s sportswear collection.
Marc’s house is massive, but he uses most all of it each morning: “The first thing I do is walk my puppy in the yard, and simultaneously get the coffee going,” he explains. His “puppy,” Valentine, is an 8-month-old Vizsla. At the moment, the dog is lying on the floor, begging. Marc gives him a piece of leftover bacon. The coffee comes from a Keurig K-Cup (“not the sexiest thing, but really easy – maybe the greatest invention ever”). We walk the expansive grounds until Valentine fulfills his morning routine. Then Marc takes his coffee into his office – a plush space awash with artwork – and checks emails at his desk, framed by several large monitors.
Next, it’s exercise. If Marc has meetings in the city, he’ll do something quick: “I’ve perfected the mountain schlep – a very high-end, chic jog.” He laughs. “I think it originated in the Swiss Alps… I wear a weighted vest, and goofy knee braces and run along the trails out back until I get a good sweat going.” Back at the house, he showers and dresses. Marc wears a hat most days. “It’s mostly for convenience,” he says. “But it’s something I started doing at 13, and now it’s habitual.”
Also a habit is his impressive vitamin regimen: a string of a dozen or so pills he lines up on the counter (everything from Propecia to Glucosamine to Ginkgo Biloba) and swallows, all at once, with a gulp of water. And his grooming routine includes a quick clip of his facial hair and eyebrows – “My eyebrow hair seems to have grown exponentially since I turned 40,” he says. “It’s like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly.”
“My eyebrow hair seems to have grown exponentially since I turned 40. It’s like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly.”
Eckō’s design studio for his latest collection, Cut & Sew, sits in a barn adjacent to his house (which also houses a basketball court). Convenient, we mention as we walk across the driveway. He grins. “It’s great for me. Not sure how great it is for everyone else.” When we arrive, there is a seamless set up on the basketball court; his team is shooting a lookbook for Cut & Sew’s holiday collection. Marc doesn’t stop moving once he enters the space. First he steps in, offering a styling tip. Then his cellphone rings and he steps outside to take the call. Then he pops up across the room trying to locate some missing shirts. After a while, we’ve lost him. He’s back to doing what he got him here in the first place.