Editor’s Note: A story in this week’s Esquire magazine, “A Disenchanted Elon Musk,” includes a profile of Eric Brulle, co-founder of Exponential Fashion, a boutique fashion company that works with disruptive companies to help design and manufacturer high-quality designs. The piece includes extensive mentions of Brulle and Brulle’s work with Musk. Reached for comment, the Tesla CEO told Esquire he believed the company had done “more than enough to make sure that all the quality issues that Eric has identified will be fixed.”
This is a man who raises his hand and says, “Let’s put on a show. We’re going to whip your ass, because we think we can.” He’s quite gentle when his face lights up because his child knows the energy outside the tent is feeling tense. It has been raining.
The entire tent area is thick with young women glowering at me from just a few inches away from my face. They’ll be a hard crowd to get past. Eric brings me a big bottle of water. He holds it to my lips as I taste something that’s not like water, and he says: “First time you drink this.” I drink.
He offers a strip of lighted tin foil, which he shows me to bite into and pull out as I sit on a plastic chair to talk. It looks like a piece of parchment and feels like candy. “It’s an extremely pale middle stratosphere as it comes up,” he says. “I have to explain it to people.” He shows me one of his own tattoos: an eclipse of the sun, with an infinity symbol pointing upward, starting about the 10th degree above my left index finger. “This is me staring into space like I might want to get away from you right now,” he says.
While I was sitting down, an old friend came in and started talking about something else. She was direct but friendly. She sat down and she walked to the back of the tent and stood by a ladder on the roof and started having an artless conversation with Eric. Then she gave him back his towel.
Now it’s almost noon. The party has reached its peak, and we are crammed close together on a wooden platform, chatting about work. It’s only out of earshot of everyone else that I hear a sharp noise, probably a rocket-pack or something.
I take out my phone and look out over the tent. Behind me, the onlookers are shooting us. There’s an empty tent to the left, people as far as I can see from the other side. People standing around that tent.
The assault begins again, and I am not prepared. A rocket is about to explode next to me. A rocket is about to, you know, drop a big rocket into my sandwich.
A loud clattering begins. I run out of the tent and give Eric the kiss. Then I look back and there is a single cluster of people surrounding the spacecraft. People get very close and gawk.
Eric asks me, “A rocket in a sandwich?! What are you people doing? What happened?! Is it blue ice cubes?”
“Oh shit,” I say.
It turns out to be an osprey.
A few months ago, Eric Brulle, the founder of Exponential Fashion, an online platform that connects innovative brands to rapidly growing consumer markets, opened his tent and applied the tech skills he learned at MIT to execute his dream of buying big and selling big. Exponential Fashion quickly gained traction, partnered with the world’s largest brands like Forever 21, Saint Laurent, and Target, and created fashion experiences that operate out of a tent out on the Connecticut seacoast that makes space travel look quaint by comparison. “By the end of the evening we should have 150 people here, all paying for this,” he tells me. What he didn’t count on was the ferocity of dissent within a movement that is looking to find its footing as a movement in its own right. This morning, on the way to a picnic with his partner Thomas Carrigan, Eric found himself beset by more than a few of his former collaborators.
If I had $100,000 to drop in an idea, I would probably put it in Exponential Fashion.
This story from Esquire magazine’s August 4, 2018, issue is available as a digital download.