When it comes to culture, shoes and just having common sense about life, Greg Dennis is your guy. Philadelphia’s finest and fashionably conscious, Greg is well versed in advertising, dealing with consumers daily. His interest in all of this became apparent in the 90s when Mecca USA was advertising in The Source Magazine and he hasn’t looked back.
“Mecca’s aesthetic was very aspirational and innovative,” Greg Dennis tells RESPECT Magazine. “Also, it was black-owned. This provided me with hope and gave me the inspiration to pursue a career in this industry.”
In between running the show out at Adidas headquarters in Portland, Oregon, Dennis sat down with RESPECT Magazine about a variety of topics, including how he got started in the business, how his education played a part in his development and entrepreneurship.
Here’s THE SCOOP:
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: What was fly fashion and sneaker-wise in Philadelphia when you were growing up?
Greg Dennis: Fly fashion growing up in Philly was: Polo, Nautica, Coogi, Rocawear and Dickies. Each brand served a different purpose; for example Dickies were popular amongst the corner boys and it represented function. The material was super durable, wrinkle resistant and had the appropriate amount of pockets.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: What was your point of entry professionally for you?
Greg Dennis: My point of entry into the industry was interning for Alan Ket and Dre Hayes at Azzure Denim when I was in college. The internship provided me with the opportunity to maximizing my book knowledge in the business world. This opportunity gave me more confidence to enter the industry post college.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: How has the industry evolved from when you started to now?
Greg Dennis: The industry has definitely evolved; when I was coming up there were many independent brands and retail shops. Now there are less players on the brand and retail side. We need small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop new markets and ideas.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson:What advice would you give someone looking to do what you do now?
Greg Dennis: For anyone looking to enter into this industry; I highly recommend gaining retail experience. Understanding retail is a great foundation for knowing what motivates consumers to make a purchase and help nurture your eye for product. At the core of my job I am a merchant and enhancing the consumer experience is the end goal.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: What is next the next ‘thing’ that folks should be paying attention to?
Greg Dennis: I believe the future is automation. This will have an impact on transportation, manufacturing and retail. The potential and upside is enormous. Imagine visiting a store that has automation manufacturing capabilities and can build custom product based on your needs. Tech can eventually eliminate waste and reduce our environmental footprint.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Does someone of your caliber create a personal brand while still working for a company? How do you balance the two?
Greg Dennis: I know a few people that started successful businesses while being employed full-time. It’s definitely manageable and I recommend going into a business that is not a conflict of interest to your 9 to 5. Having multiple revenue streams a smart play.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Favorite three sneakers of all time are?
Greg Dennis: When it comes to footwear my three favorite shoes of all time are; EQT 93 Racers, OG Gucci Ace’s and Polo Ranger boots. All of the major players in my neighborhood when I was growing up had these shoes. Decades later these shoes are still relevant.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Where did you go to college and did college prepare you for what you are doing now?
Greg Dennis: I attended Philadelphia University for Apparel Management. PHILAU is the oldest fashion school in North America. This education provided me with the tools to navigate this industry. Without this foundation working in this industry would be huge learning curve.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: If you weren’t in the industry now you’d be doing what?Greg Dennis: If I was not in the fashion industry I would be exploring my 2nd passion in the music industry. Music and fashion go hand and hand. This year in music is very exciting from Meek to Jay Z. I’m happy for the direction of the industry.