Brett Brooks, who programs Ron Herman’s in-store listening stations, believes a good DJ should be heard and not seen. Seems he and Anna Wintour agree. When the Vogue editrix requested a DJ who could “be invisible” for a Zac Posen dinner party, Brooks and his no-frills iPod and laptop setup snagged the gig. The unobtrusive Brooks never actually met Wintour, but he did walk away with a name for his record label: Invisible DJ, which he started last year after he realized that customers wanted to know more about the music playing inside the boutique.
Ron Herman now provides Invisible DJ compilations created to match the European sophistication-meets-California cool clothes on the racks. With Ron Herman’s blessing, full albums from Invisible DJ artists also are available in the store.
This story first appeared in the August 30, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I think music and fashion go hand in hand. It’s great to see people buy a Lanvin sport coat and Ann Demeulemeester pants and pick up a few CDs they haven’t heard before. It’s like discovering a new fashion and discovering new music,” says Brooks, the key men’s buyer for the store.
The Ron Herman-branded compilations feature Invisible DJ acts such as Seems So Bright along with other signed and unsigned acts from New York, Los Angeles and London. The full albums for sale include the label’s latest find, Mighty Six Ninety, discovered by Brooks’ partner, Jeremy Wineberg.
“The label is really aesthetic driven, so it’s high on visuals and high on taste. It’s about what’s next,” says Brooks.
This casts Brooks and Wineberg, the twentysomething promoter known for celeb-studded parties, as the tastemakers. “Major record labels are kind of looking at us as scouts now,” says Brooks, who counts Chester French as a success story. Discovered by Invisible DJ, the duo that made music out of a Harvard dorm room just signed with Interscope.
When Juicy Couture wanted its own line of mood music for its stores, owner Gela Nash-Taylor called upon Invisible DJ. “It’s really taking the environment home with the customer. It’s the essence of the shop,” says Brooks of the compilation, due next week in Juicy stores worldwide. The indie blend with a rock ‘n’ roll edge includes a solo from Duran Duran’s John Taylor, who is married to Nash-Taylor, along with offerings from Mighty Six Ninety, Chester French and Uh Huh, fronted by actress Leisha Hailey.
The “low-tech, grassroots” label continues to be on the prowl for up-and-comers, although some wonder if Brooks, who typically leaves Wineberg to find and liaise with bands, is perhaps a little too invisible. “Our band, Seems So Bright, was starting to think I don’t really exist and Brett Brooks was Jeremy’s alter ego,” says Brooks, who declined to be photographed for this story. “I’m Charlie of ‘Charlie’s Angels’ on a speaker box!”
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