Coloradoâ€™s picture perfect mountains are an escape from the busy outside world, however, for brothers and Akomplice founders, Mike and Patrick McCarney, Coloradoâ€™s postcard scenery is their home away from home. In 2004, Mikeâ€™s personal interest through an internship in New York lead to the establishment of Akomplice.
Though Mike returned home, the growth of Akomplice was not hindered. Mike and Patrick worked from the ground up rather than relying on their beneficial location and easy connections. As two of the youngest guys in the industry Mike, 21 and Patrick 23, are familiar with the challenge of getting people their age to see the big picture behind controversial graphics. Three and a half years later it seems they have conquered that minor obstacle without looking back.
â€œAll of the police we have, but weâ€™re the land of the free.â€
Format: Please introduce the founders of Akomplice along with a brief background?
Patrick: The founders include my brother, Mike McCarney, who wanted to make a clothing company. We were making hip-hop music and I was like, â€˜Yo, man, you donâ€™t know how to use Illustrator, Photoshop. We donâ€™t know anything about that. Donâ€™t waste time, because people are liking our music.â€™ Even Slug from Atmosphere heard it and said it was dope. My brother was like, â€˜No, Iâ€™m just going to do this also.â€™ Three months later he found someone to teach him some stuff and self taught himself, as well. At the time I was hurt and had to stay home all the time so I was just throwing in things and I helped to decide the name. I guess that makes me a founder too.
Format: Exactly where did Akomplice begin?
Patrick: My brother went to New York to intern at a record label called One Music. When he was there, they were also doing a clothing company called Demographics. He was like this is the illest shit Iâ€™ve ever seen. Thatâ€™s kind of how it started, he was inspired by that. We started in Colorado, we live up in the mountains we donâ€™t live in the city. Weâ€™re one of the strangest things in hip-hop, because for us it wasnâ€™t like, oh I know this guy and oh yeah Iâ€™m friends with this person or that person. It was purely people liking our shit. There was no rubbing shoulders. You know how the industry goes, itâ€™s mostly who you know thatâ€™s why thereâ€™s so much trash out there.
Format: Akompliceâ€™s tagline is intelligent consciousness. If the next season was centered around one political or worldly issue, what would it be?
Patrick: We design clothes so we donâ€™t have to wear another brand besides our own. We try to make it so thereâ€™s never one thing that we have to do whatever weâ€™re going through weâ€™ll make. If you listen to Jay-Z, when he started out he was rapping about selling crack, as he gets famous, he starts to rap about what itâ€™s like to be famous. Thatâ€™s exactly how we go about this. Where ever we are in our lives youâ€™ll see it on the T-shirts. One season we may be thinking about the world and be like, man how can we convey that or weâ€™ll get high and be like Waldo in the strip club thatâ€™s some funny ass shit.
Format: Do you think that the messages that you guys are sending out could be received as easily if they were translated through a different art form other than clothing?
Patrick: Definitely. My brother does most of the designing, but weâ€™re a team. We live together, work together and Iâ€™m planning on getting my brother to affirm other mediums. Weâ€™re already planning different projects in different areas. There are a lot of ways we can get them out to the world besides T-shirts.
Format: The Liberty piece is a graphic of the statue of liberty pointing a gun into the air. Where did the inspiration for that visual come from?
Patrick: A little bit after we, not we, but the other people, elected George Bush, we were thinking about the Iraq War and Americaâ€™s concept of going in and killing people to make them free. All of the police we have, but weâ€™re the land of the free. We have the most prisons, but weâ€™re the land of the free and itâ€™s all ruled by the gun. Basically, we took the symbol of freedom and put the gun in the hand, because we talk about this free and that free, but a lot of it is by arms. People are shooting each other and America is really into guns. On the back of the shirt it says, â€˜Americaâ€™s filled with gangsters, from your neighborhood drug dealers to the government. Itâ€™s time to realize and recognize freedom really comes by the gun from sun up to sun down, one.â€™
Format: The Unity is Strength piece holds a strong message as well. A guy is getting shot in the head, but the concept is unity is strength so can you elaborate on that?
Patrick: If you look at the gun closely, itâ€™s filled with people of all different ages, styles and races. So you have all people coming together to form something very strong, a gun. If you look at the head it says pollution, greed, fear, hatred, racism, global warming, everything that us now as a humankind are facing. Basically, the only way that me and my brother feel we can change this is if we come together. If someone walked in the room, you canâ€™t help but look at it.
Format: Each season Akomplice focuses on new issues and controversy, how else does Akomplice evolve each season?
Patrick: Me and my brother keep changing, we keep getting older. Akomplice keeps getting bigger so our lifestyle changes because of that.
Format: Other than seeing various musicians and celebrities embracing the line, what is most rewarding about having a home-grown line?
Patrick: Itâ€™s two things: because weâ€™re from where we are I think itâ€™s a little bit harder to do what weâ€™ve done. I feel like itâ€™s the challenge to succeed when youâ€™re competing against the whole world. The other thing is having the feeling of OK this is what Iâ€™m doing instead of having a feeling like what am I supposed to be doing with my life?
Format: If the average person couldnâ€™t tell by looking at your designs, what sets Akomplice apart from other streetwear brands?
Patrick: One of the biggest things is concepts. I get told time and time again by my clients and people at the tradeshows, â€˜You really know what your product is and what it means and it has a story behind it.â€™ If you look at most labels itâ€™s like, â€˜I like that color. I put it here and I put it there and then my nameâ€™s in silver foil.â€™ Thereâ€™s not much meaning besides how it looks. Our challenge was to figure out how do we say something, but make it look fresh when everyone wants to wear stuff based on how it looks.
More Info: http://www.akomplice-clothing.com/