Denis Koehler and Donald Muzio are the perfect gay Dream Team. Not only are they a handsome, dynamic couple, but they are business partners for an exciting clothing line called Silber Fuchs NYC. Together they bring their insight and creative designs to the next generation of clothing for our community. As they research for an outlet sight in Seattle, and in time for Gay Pride month of June, they have offered a special deal for “Washington State Residents” to help one of our local, GLBT charities.
Eric Andrews-Katz: You two have been a couple for over 30 years. How did you meet?
Denis Kohler: It was on Staten Island in 1983. We met when Donald came to see his friend off on her high school prom and I was in her limo with my date.
Donald Muzio: The next time I saw him, was at a Halloween party. I was dressed as Cousin It and he was too cool to wear a costume.
Andrews-Katz: What challenges do you face working together and being a couple?
Kohler: I’m still working my Creative Director job for another company and Donald is home doing the day to day for Silber Fuchs so we’re not together 24/7. I create almost all of our designs and do the website design and creative. Donald does all the mailing, packing, customer service and financials but we consult each other on everything. It works well.
Muzio: We’re pretty much on the same page about most decisions. With Denis at his other job during the day, we’re in constant contact about all things Silber Fuchs. Being together about 33 years, we know each other very well and pretty much know how the other will react. We also enjoy visiting the retail stores that sell our line. It’s a good excuse for a few mini vacations every year.
Andrews-Katz: What made you decide on the clothing industry?
Kohler: We wanted to start something of our own. At 50 (ish), neither one of us had ever had our own business. We’re figuring this out as we go along.
Muzio: T-shirts were a low risk start up. One of the best perks has been meeting guys from all over the world. We’ve made a bunch of good friends.
Andrews-Katz: How did you first conceive of the idea for Silber Fuchs and why the German name?
Muzio: Denis’ parents are from Germany. With his silver hair and the whole “Get Fuchs’d” thing, it all just fell into place. It actually means “Silver Fox”. “Get Fuchs’d” has become our hashtag.
Andrews-Katz: What makes Silber Fuchs different from other clothiers?
Kohler: We’ve pretty much been out in front since we started. We’re not a “behind the scenes” couple. Our customers know us and, to an extent, our personal lives.
Muzio: We like to keep our designs pretty simple. We try to stay true to our brand and keep them fun and light. We stay away from politics and current trends. We hope guys can wear our tees in 5 years and they won’t be dated. Most of the shirts are for everyone. You don’t have to be a bear to wear a butt babies cub shirt. There are plenty of gay t-shirt companies out there and plenty of room for all of us.
Andrews-Katz: Do you manufacture your clothing line or is it only the printing?
Kohler: No, we source the tees and tanks and get everything screen printed here in Manhattan and Brooklyn. We like to keep an eye on things.
Muzio: I’m actually still sewing our labels on every single shirt myself. I never touched a sewing machine in my life until three years ago. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of my sewing skills.
Andrews-Katz: You’r e new swimsuit line will be released soon. Are you planning on going into the booming underwear business as well?
Kohler: Not yet. There’s a lot of competition out there. Let’s see how the swimsuits do! We do baseball caps, tanks, hoodies and we’re up for any opportunity that comes our way.
Muzio: We also look forward to the swimsuit photo shoot. We have no shortage of guys of every body type offering their modeling services; another perk of Instagram. Hopefully, we can get out to Fire Island to get some pics.
Andrews-Katz: Every parent claims not to have a favorite. What are your favorite pieces that you’ve created?
Kohler: The newest stuff is always my favorite. The MerBÄR character is really one of my favorites. We started with the MuscleBar character, and then last fall we did the LumBarJack and now the MerBÄR (half bear, half merman). It’s a fun summer tee and tank.
Muzio: I love the Black Sheep tee. We’re always trying to think of new characters for our Butt Babies line. I’m a sucker for a black tee. For the Butt Babies characters we use a little asterisk for the butts. It’s pretty cute. Friends with children have asked for kids versions.
Andrews-Katz: How important to you (if at all) is it to be recognized as a “gay” clothing business?
Muzio: It’s very important, although we have a lot of straight girls that love the tees too. The gay audience is something that we know. We, also, have to give a lot of credit to Instagram. We started very small and the company took on a life of its own. We have some very loyal customers who have been with us since the beginning and we really appreciate their support.
Andrews-Katz: Tell us about the ‘special’ you are running for Washington State residents for June – Gay Pride month.
Kohler: Sure. Silber Fuchs NYC will donate 10% of all online sales of purchases from Washington State to Lambert House (lamberthouse.org). They are a great organization that offers LGBTQ youth over 30 different ongoing programs, activities, resources and services. We’re happy to be involved.
Andrews-Katz: Since you have no outlets in Seattle (as of yet), how do Washington State residents order your products?
Muzio: Actually, we’re looking for a store in Seattle. Any suggestions? We’re currently in San Fran, Chicago, NYC, Ft. Lauderdale, Ptown, London and other cities. Of course, we’ll ship worldwide from our website which carries our entire line, silberfuchsnyc.com
Andrews-Katz: What kind of products would you like to see Silber Fuchs branch out into?
Kohler: The sky is the limit…socks, underwear, outerwear…new opportunities arise all the time.
Muzio: Beer cozies, keychains, pens , mouse pads and fridge magnets are some of the exciting new products in the works. (kidding)!
Silber Fuchs NYC was started by ( ‘husbears’ ) Denis Kohler and Donald Muzio. In 2015 they unveiled their first line of cute, creative and clever tee shirts, and it has taken off since then. With a rapidly growing number of outlet stores (including Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Springs, Key West, Berlin and London) and a booming Instagram page (@silberfuchsnyc) there is no end in sight as to what this dynamic duo can accomplish.
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Lambert House thanks Denis Koehler and Donald Muzio for your silberfuchsnyc.com Pride Month fundraiser for Lambert House. Thanks also to Eric Andrews-Katz for this article. Lambert House served LGBTQ+ youth from 135 ZIP codes last year and we are continuing to expand our geographic reach by establishing 21 additional support group locations covering 2,300 square miles in the Northwest over the next three years. We look forward to visiting the Silber Fuchs store in Seattle once it opens.