â€œChangeâ€ is everywhere these days. Itâ€™s become so chic that we often forget who we are sometimes. Instead of preserving our best selfâ€”regardless of what cynics sayâ€”we trade it in for whateverâ€™s convenient. Aegis Apparel, a life style brand out of Los Angeles, California, is here to fix all that. Started this past June, the company strives to maintain and promote oneâ€™s identityâ€”be it hipster boogie or vintage gangsta, Aegis realizes you are your own definition of art. Format recently spoke with Joshua Kwak, Aegis Apparelâ€™s sales and operations director, about how the brand adapts to the changing world around it. â€œThe reality is I am just like everyone who buys the clothes; I want my identity and my place too,â€ says Kwak. Translation: Do you.
â€œâ€¦We donâ€™t want to be a greed-driven brand. We want to throw philanthropic events.â€
Format: Aegis Apparel is fairly new to the streetwear industry. Why even create a clothing line with so many already in existence?
Aegis Apparel: We created Aegis because although there are a lot of clothing lines, we felt a lot of work going into those designs were simple vector patterns and color arrangements.
We really wanted to bring in a line that infused true artistry in design and raise questions in the minds of those who looked at it. Many of our designs attempt to carry some social commentary or a pun, in a sense. With the aforementioned aside, a lot of the street wear lines also seem like they talk the talk, but are not walking the walk. We want our blog to cultivate culture and bring to light everything that is going on in the scene, musically, artistically, fashion-wise, and even what other blogs might be saying. We wanted to develop culture and we certainly have a vision to upgrade the events we do throw to include DJ performances, hip hop performances, live artists painting, visual DJâ€™s, clothing sales and a photo booth: the â€œone-stopâ€ culture shop. On top of that, eleven percent of every sale is donated to charity. We, in general, want to produce something that gives to as many people as possible.
Format: Maybe that was presumptive of me; do you consider Aegis Apparel a â€œstreetwearâ€ brand?
Aegis Apparel: We consider Aegis to be a lifestyle brand. We want to create a strong identification and a sense of familial binding with our community, clients, or family members, if you will. But, it wasnâ€™t presumptive because we benchmark against other â€œstreetwearâ€ clothing lines and it most closely resembles that.
Format: So what really sets Aegis Apparel apart from other brands similar in style?
Aegis Apparel: What sets Aegis Apparel apart is what we are trying to accomplish. We want strong ties with musicians, artists, authors, photographers; you name it. People who are trying make it. We want to cultivate their work, and present them in the form of events for everyone to come out and enjoy. We sincerely feel like art is the soul speaking, without it insanity ensues. On top of that, we donâ€™t want to be a greed-driven brand. We want to throw philanthropic events. Our first event we sold raffle tickets for eleven different T-shirt designs and all the money went to fighting leukemia and lymphoma. Every sale donates money to Nothing but Nets (www.nothingbutnets.net), a non-profit organization that tries to fight malaria in Africa.
Format: Tell us about your creative process a little bit. Where do your ideas come from?
Aegis Apparel: Our designs come from everything and anything. What we think might look cool, to what we wanted answered or questioned. For example, the â€œ4-Colour Camoâ€ [picture 2] is more of a two part question. We were talking about army fatigues, and Eric, our art director, is suddenly like, â€œMan, the fatigue for the scene nowadays is a lot of colours; kind of the antithesis of being covert.â€ Then he made the design. â€œFreetilityâ€ [picture 1] is something we discussed and made in pieces, it was kind of taken from a design Eric had made early in the year of an image of Jesus crucified on a wooden dollar. I loved the concept of that, and asked what we could do to tone the image down but have a similar kind of message. We started swapping ideas and soon we came to the idea of â€œFreetility.â€ Itâ€™s not what you know; itâ€™s how you play it. Another example is â€œ101 Babiesâ€ [pictures 3 and 4]. That was a series of photos Eric took that he thought looked cool. The three of us collaborated and Eric put those images together- our homage to Los Angeles- our home.
Format: Tell us a little bit about the line thatâ€™s out right now.
Aegis Apparel: With this line, we tried to approach it in a very broad sense; there are designs [in] there that range in styles and colour schemes. We wanted to present that and chart what really works, and then work that into the next line. Currently we are looking to expand and bring in some hoodies for winter and maybe some accessories. There really is only one theme we tried to push and that was preservation of art and culture.
Format: In terms of a theme, what do you have in mind for your upcoming collectionsâ€”both the menâ€™s and womenâ€™s?
Aegis Apparel: I think this next line will be more of the same: social commentary, hidden messages, where politics is going, the economy, and maybe things that are just aesthetically stimulating. We try to pose a question for every design, so by that measure the themes are based on what is happening in our culture and socially. The main thing is we want to make sure we are in some way protecting culture and art. That is the theme for everything we are trying to do. Aegis stands for protection- and as such- our motto is built of that.
Format: Building a brand is what itâ€™s really about these days. What plans do you have for expanding the Aegis Apparel brand?
Aegis Apparel: Currently, we are using a lot of grass roots and guerilla marketing tactics.
We are having commercials made, and will be using those as a viral marketing tool. We have teamed with Chitini.com, and established a storefront there. In addition to those things mentioned, we have been throwing events and have been really trying to establish ourselves as the brand that is out there living it with the people who are living it. The reality is: I am just like everyone who buys the clothes; I want my identity and my place too.
Format: Ultimately, whatâ€™s the goal for Aegis Apparel?
Aegis Apparel: Our ultimate goal is to offer a full line of clothing ranging from jeans, to jackets and accessories. We also want a regularly updated blog spot that discusses everything culture. We want to give back to charities and give back to the community. Finally, we want to promote and throw events that work as an intersection for many avenues and artistic roads.
Format: If we could only print one thing about Aegis, what would you want Format readers to know?
Aegis Apparel: Protect what you believe in; itâ€™s your identity.
More Info: http://www.aegisapparel.com/