Wyatt Koch brings his "whimsical ideas" to life with his retina-blasting shirt brand, Wyatt Ingraham.
When you're Wyatt Koch, the flame-haired heir to a billion-dollar fortune, the sky is the limit. You can do whatever you want—including launch a brand of egregiously bold shirts. Wyatt is in the headlines today after suing his ex-fiancée in order to get back the $180,000 custom engagement ring he gave her, but The Cut correctly identified the news we should really be talking about: that Wyatt designs a line of T-shirts under the brand name Wyatt Ingraham (his middle name). These shirts are...something. They are Going Out Shirts on LSD. They are the wallpaper from Pee-Wee's Playhouse made real. They are shirts in the same way Pop Rocks are food. Wanting to ask approximately a million questions, I called the number on the brand’s website.
It’s not just false advertising: When I call, Wyatt Koch's assistant answers. She tells me that Wyatt isn’t in today, but she's happy to connect me with someone who can answer my questions. Annie Smith, the founder of Tusk Marketing—which has handled press inquiries for the brand since day one—calls me back. Smith has known Wyatt for a long time—their dads worked together closely for three decades. (Wyatt’s dad is Bill Koch—brother to longtime right-wing donors Charles and David, and himself worth a Forbes-estimated $1.7 billion.) "He's always said that he's had a passion for fashion ever since he was kid," Smith says of Koch Junior.
Smith says that Wyatt Ingraham, launched in 2015, is still a small operation—"We're still in the beginning stages," she says—but one she describes as a success. "Obviously these shirts are not for every person, right?" Smith says. "Not every guy is going to wear a shirt with moneybags on it, but there are so many people out there who have been looking for something like this: looking for something that's off the wall and different. We've got a lot of really positive feedback and a lot of orders."
All of the designs, including the moneybag version seemingly copied and pasted from Scrooge McDuck's inner monologue, come straight from the mind of Wyatt, Smith says. Wyatt didn't go to school for design but he works closely with a designer—Sofia Name, who definitely doesn’t sound made-up and "brings a vibrant South American flair," to Koch’s vision, according to the site. "He's the ideas man," Smith says of Koch. "He comes up with these whimsical ideas in his head and he has never really been able to know what to do with them."
A small sampling of those whimsical ideas: multi-colored shamrocks, a money-green shirt covered in dollar signs, and the sensibly titled "edgy cube" shirt. "His inspirations come from everywhere," Smith says. "He has roots in New York—he has a lot of connections to New York—so he had a yellow taxi shirt idea. Or he lives down here in Palm Beach, so one of the shirts he has is with palm trees all over it, like neon-colored palm trees. (Wyatt also owns a 450-acre ranch in Florida named “Wonderland.”) Basically all of his designs come from his experiences, so he just tries to put those experiences on fabric and share them with the world." Sebastian Rocha, who walked in one of Wyatt Ingraham's fashion shows and describes himself as a "designer, event planner, concierge, global explorer, model and actor," doubles down on this description of Wyatt: "He's amazing and he's a creative teddy bear filled with ideas and love," Rocha tells me via Instagram message.
I asked Smith where Wyatt, who says his favorite springtime activity is "playing tennis at Mar-a-Lago" and is the heir to an $82 billion fortune that's been used to covertly influence government candidates and policies, got the idea for the money bag shirt. At first she said she wasn't sure, but then came back to the question and told me, "He lives in Palm Beach and it's obviously a very affluent area, so a lot of those people have a lot of money and they want to show it off. This is one of the ways you can do that."
At the moment, every single shirt at Wyatt Ingraham is on sale for a hundred bucks. That might contradict what Smith said about the business's success, but it's possible the brand is ramping up for the new season. Wyatt's been frustrated with the quality of available fabric in the past, Smith tells me, but after landing on an Italian cotton he's finally got them to where he wants them. "The new line is beautiful, the fabric, the quality is great," says Smith. "Making sure the colors were vibrant enough [was a priority] because we did go through some manufacturers where the colors were pretty dull, and that's not what he wants at all. Because the whole idea behind this line is: be bold."
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