The Business of HYPE is a new weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders and entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. On this week’s episode, Jeff sits down with Michael Camargo, the branding/lifestyle manager, consultant, and true multi-hyphenate also known as Upscale Vandal, at Sole DXB.
Jeff and Mike’s conversation was recorded just after midnight in Dubai. This is a crucial point, because Camargo was not allowed to travel internationally until June of last year. “Everything I’ve accomplished in my career so far, I’ve done on probation” Camargo says, just after removing his Audemar Piguets timepiece and over $100K in jewelry.
From the outside looking in, it might be difficult to figure out what exactly it is that Upscale Vandal does. Whatever it is, he seems to be doing a lot of it, though — whether its sharing Instagram Stories of himself burning the midnight oil with screen-printers and distributors or photos of his meals as the Hood Anthony Bourdain.
In this far-ranging and wide-reaching sit-down, Camargo explains why he doesn’t take interns (“I don’t wanna teach people the wrong way to do something”), growing up in Ozone Park (“John Gotti was seven blocks away”), and why Kanye West was right: everything really is Pusha T. After all, when Upscale first ventured into the field of lifestyle and brand management, it was Pusha who told a young Camargo that everything he knew about fashion could be applied to the music business. Mike has since gone on to consult for Roc Nation and artists like Push and J Balvin, helping bring their brands to the global stage. “Marketing,” in according to Upscale, “is the language you create between a consumer and a product.” Upscale also believes that being an influencer is the antithesis to being a consultant. If the success of his consultation relies on his influence, says Mike, then he is a bad consultant. “Kids might not think that. They’ll see you and be like, ‘Ooh, you lit!’” There has to be some discretion. “The hand,” according to Upscale, “has to be invisible.”
Camargo also believes that it’s crucial that brands recognize the importance of self-reflection and -realization. “Reebok took a sharp L,” says Camargo. “But Reebok is also doing phenomenally right now: they’re looking at where they’re lacking.” This ability to rehab their image, Upscale says, is an area where Under Armour has struggled. “They shoulda jumped on the Dad Shoe meme—if I was controlling digital, there would’ve been dad swag beefs!”
Listen to the conversation in full above. Be sure to check out past episodes of HYPEBEAST Radio and don’t forget to leave a comment or review on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, or wherever else pods are found.