Indie Tee Spotlight #15: Prestigious Clothing

In this weeks Indie Tee Spotlight I highlight an indie brand, Prestigious Clothing, from West Springfield, Massachusetts. I had the opportunity to chat a little with William Matte, Jr., the founder of Prestigious Clothing. William has been running his own line for some time now and has built up an impressive catalog of tees within the past year. He has definitely focused on branding and has made his brands name a focal point of many of his tees. 

Prestigious Clothing is gearing up to release a brand new fall line of tees which William has been promoting heavily and which has got the tee community excited. William talks a little about his upcoming line, some of his thoughts behind the Prestigious brand, as well as how music has influenced his design style!

“The identity, personality and collective attributes of my brand are nothing short of what time, frugality, devotion and hard work can produce. Prestigious means the world to me.” William Matte, Jr. 

William of Prestigious Clothing

Coty: The name Prestigious Clothing sounds pretty grand – how did you come up with it and what does Prestigious mean to you? How would you describe the identity of Prestigious Clothing?

William: Prestigious is more of a description than a name. The primary reason for the choice was the overall timing of my brand’s inception coupled with the limitless path it produced ahead of me. The opportunity for me to start a line of my own was almost like a dream come true. So many amazing artists and the brands they own/design for inspired feelings of hope and willingness to start something of my own. I was busy as it was- school, my old job, my relationships and related commitments- “Prestigious” was an escape and an outlet. It’s become such a huge part of my life, and I devote every resource I can possibly tap into this project. It’s such an amazing and beautiful thing to be at the helm of a boundless and opportunistic endeavor. The identity, personality and collective attributes of my brand are nothing short of what time, frugality, devotion and hard work can produce. Prestigious means the world to me.

Prestigious Clothing

2. How would you define the target audience of Prestigious Clothing?

William: The target audience of my brand is something that I recently discovered, as typical as that sounds from a company owner’s point of view; it takes some time to figure out who you want to market to and why on earth they’d want to spend money your product. My target audience is not one that can be pigeon holed or summed up in a nutshell, but overall my customers are members of what one could simply call an “indie” culture- I promote my Vegan ethics openly and my customers appreciate that. The integration of my growth as the owner of a young brand along with the happenings of my brand’s development substantiate the reality that fans, followers and otherwise potential customers like an involved and personable owner; a face to go with a name. This year, Prestigious will take on more of an activist feel in terms of charitable contribution and communal involvement, setting the stage for what will come.

Coty: The indie T-Shirt scene is increasingly becoming a crowded space. What are you doing to make sure Prestigious stands out amongst the crowd? What things have you done differently?

William: It is far too easy to fall into the anonymous void of a crowed or oversaturated market. The most important aspect of staying afloat is maintaining and preaching the mission of your brand. Customer service, unique and gracious offerings with every packed order, a personable experience that will last longer than the shirt material itself; these are a few things that brands should strive for. In terms of product identity, it’s been said time and time again- offer something that can’t be found anywhere else. This is one of the hardest things to do- offering new products that aren’t like any other line requires discovering who you’re marketing your product to in the first place; once you’ve done this, start planning on ways of supplying the demand that is out there.

Prestigious Clothing

Coty: You’re preparing to release a new line of tees. What about the new line has got you excited? Did you collaborate with any artists on any of the designs? When should we expect to see the new line and why are they not available for presale?

William: Ah yes, the long awaited early February release! This has got me extremely excited and anxious at the same time. This will be a three-design release, and it is largely significant because it marks the first “line” ever released by Prestigious- prior to now, new designs would come out one at a time, sporadically and without notice. This has been promoted and has the community excited and wanting to see what’s coming- but only a handful of people very close to me have seen it- myself and the designer/printer included. Jimmy Heartcore, of Heartcore Clothing and printmytees.com fame, designed this line and will be performing the printing of each piece. This line will be for sale in bundle and individual design form (the bundle, or course, will provide substantial savings). By the 10th of February, this design will be unveiled in full form, all for sale and ready to ship. I decided against a preorder for a number of reasons, one of which was that I did not want to sneak peak the line publicly until the day of the release- it is somewhat of an experiment since I’ve done preorders in the past. I want to see how this line takes to everyone since after ordering; each customer will actually have his or her merchandise within 3 business days in hand. Preorders are not history for Prestigious, but this line will not be available for preorder sale whatsoever.

Prestigious Clothing

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Want Your Product Reviewed?

I recently received an email from a regular reader here, who has decided to take the plunge and enter into the apparel business. He sent me a a nice email asking me how he might go about having his product reviewed, talked about and posted on my site. I decided that I would do a general post based on his question for others that might be interested in doing the same. 

I basically break my blog posts about apparel brands into three different categories: brand news/sales, brand reviews and brand interview. The best way to let me know about any of these things is through the contact form in the above menu. Many of my posts originate from tidbits that I find myself through other blogs, forums or social networks. However, a lot of the time, bands will contact me directly.

If you decided to contact me directly then these are some things to remember:

General Brand News/Sales. Any changes to your brand? Big sale? 

1. Be as specific as you can about the news about your brand/company. Provide a link to the news if you made a post about it on your site.
2. Be as specific about the sale as possible. How much is the discount? How long does the sale last? Are there specific products on sale? 

Brand Reviews. Most of the emails I receive are from different indie brands wanting me to check out their online store/site or to review a product. Here is some insight as to how I decide what to review. 

1. If you send me a physical product to review (i.e you mailed me something) I will almost always do a post about your product (I’m 100% so far). I have been more inclined as of late to do video reviews in conjunction with a text review of the product you shipped to me. Needless to say, products that are shipped to me typically receive the most attention – since you took the time to send it, it’s the least I could do. You can find my shipping information in the contact menu above.
2. If there is a particular product you want me to check out and possibly review then please provide a specific link to that product. Or include an image of it as an attachment. 
3. If your brand or a specific tee design jumps out at me (i.e. I really like it) then I will be more inclined to post about it.
4. If your story and/or background excites me then I will be more inclined to post about you.

Brand Interviews. These are a lot of work and I try as hard as I can to pump out at least one Interview a week. Interviews on this site come in two flavors: the Indie Tee Spotlight series and one-off interviews. 

1. Most of the time, the interview will be a part of my Indie Tee Spotlight series. The Indie Tee Spotlight is always reserved for brands from which I have been sent a product for review and have really enjoyed or that I have purchased from and have really liked. These are usually my biggest posts, in terms of word length, and I try my best to promote these as best as I can. 
2. Other times, I will do one-off interviews, for instance, if a brand has big news then I might interview them about it or if I really dig a particular brand I might send the them a few questions. 

That’s it! I look forward to all of your wonderful emails and products. Keep up the great work!

Indie Tee Spotlight #14: Jon Wye

In this weeks Indie Tee Spotlight I feature Jon Wye, a belt and t-shirt designer based out of Washington, D.C. who has been doing his thing for four years now. You might remember that I recently featured the Jon Wye designed Homemaker belt in my last Glorious Nonsensities video review. Jon is the ultimate do-it-yourselfer as he has developed his own methods to produce his signature graphic design belts and buckles. He also has developed a unique method for taking 3D product shots, providing a unique experience for the potential buyer.

I had the opportunity to get to know Jon more and am happy that he was able to share a little about himself and  the company that he has poured his entire self into for the last couple of years.

Jon Wye Photo Dome

Coty: Your signature products are your custom made leather belts and buckles. What was your first experience in working with leather and what propelled you to start a company focused on making original and custom made belts?

Jon: It all started with a girl. I think that’s how a lot of good stories start. One of our first dates was making belt buckles out of wax carvings, plaster casting, and melting craft-catalogue pewter into the mold. And when she moved away to Barcelona (pre-planned before we met) I had a lot of time on my hands and so I kept creating. I didn’t want to be the person “left” behind, I wanted to strive for something. So I started making more belt buckles and eventually moved to belts. And the initial ideas for the graphic belt process came about a year into my brand. It was one of those ‘ah ha’ from a dream moments. And it kind of consumed me until I perfected it.

Connected Graffiti Leather Belt

Zombie Leather Belt

Men's Sixshooter T-shirt by Jon Wye

Coty: All of your products are custom made in your shop that you’ve named “the funkfactory.” How did you learn to work with the metal and leather mediums that you use for your belts? Did you learn by trial and error or do you have some formal training?

Jon: It was all trial and error. A lot of error! I worked as an Office Manager (glorified receptionist) at a PR firm for about 4 years. I spent a lot of time researching everything on the Internet. A tidbit here, a tadbit there. No one source spells it all out for you. I simply became a good disseminator of information, coupled with an unquenchable thirst to learn more and more. There is so much knowledge available on the internet for the taking. The key is being able to sift through it. And then once you think you’ve sifted through all you can handle you take the plunge and start to put your money on the line and test things out. So my whole shop, process, everything came from being willing to learn and never be too set in my ways, which is something I think a lot of people get hung up on. You have to be fluid.

Junk-baby-blue-2

Coty: We cover a lot about marketing and branding techniques. Have you done anything, either locally or online, different or unique to market the Jon Wye brand? What techniques have worked best for you?

Nothing, absolutely nothing beats getting out into the public! I spent the last 3 years selling at various outdoor events in the DC area, building my name. Every time people saw my display it was bigger and better. When I made money it went right into new displays (all custom built) and new products. People love to see you growing, and love to know that the money they spend on you is helping to build something special… that they had a hand in your success.

I once took out an expensive add in the back of Rolling Stone magazine… worst mistake ever! I spent $2000 thinking I was going to be selling belts and tees like crazy! I think I made about $250 back. I took the spanking and walked away from paid advertising. I started doing what I learned at the PR Firm. I wrote press releases, and came up with unique twists for announcements. And that led to some feature articles in the Washington Post that people still remember to this day.
And I talk about the brand. As one PR person told me, if you don’t talk about you, no one will. It’s true! It might feel odd at first, but if you truly believe in what you are creating it will come across as sincere when you tell people about you creations.

And lastly, my Pink Ducky sticker. One of my supremely talented artists, David William, helped me create a JonWye iconic image. My Pink Ducky sticker is known around DC and is included in every order from online. It was a big risk to create the stickers considering I give them away for free, but I have seen my return 100 fold. People love the darn thing and are shocked that I give it away for free. It’s waterproof and really durable. I made sure the quality of the sticker matched the quality of my brand.

Coty: You’ve been building the Jon Wye brand for three years now. What has been your greatest experience so far? What has been the most difficult or stressful part of running your own small business?

Jon: Actually I’ve been building it for 4 years as of January 2nd. YEAH… 4 year Anniversary! That’s why the JUNK buckles are on sale for $10. It was the first buckle!

I used to look for that great moment, the tipping point (BTW, I highly suggest reading ‘The Tipping Point’) but it’s been more of a slow and steady build. Each year is better than the last. Each year has great moments, but all in all it’s been the whole of it, the journey, the mental game of creating something that has been the most rewarding.

The most difficult or stressful part? OYE! Sticking to my ideas even though every sign around me said it wasn’t right. There were many moments where I didn’t know if I was going to be able to make my credit card payments. Times when I invested in new machines and products when I didn’t necessarily have the money. It is no joke when I say that I have put everything I have into this company, and then some. Thing are still tight, but thanks to all the wonderful people that have supported me the light at the end of the tunnel is peering through.

Coty: How much do you think the D.C. culture has influenced your designs and the direction of your clothing line?

Jon: The easy answer is that I am a product of my environment. I grew up here. I know people in DC, myself included, talk about politics on a more regular basis, as we are inundated. But I am separated from the political scene. And DC’s rich underbelly of Punk Rock, Bike Polo, etc is something I am just now becoming more aware of.

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10 Tips From 10 Great Indie Brands

I have had the opportunity to work with 11 great indie tee brands over the last 4 months for the Indie Tee Spotlight feature here. There have been so many helpful tips that have come from these features and interviews. So in lieu of this weeks Indie Tee Spotlight (it’ll be back next week!) I thought it would be a great idea to put together a list of 10 tips from the last 10 Indie Tee Spotlights (unfortunately I am excluding our first spotlight, Linty Fresh, because I didn’t get to interview Eric Terry – maybe we can work with him in the future)!

Enjoy with tea and a comfy t-shirt!

1. Don’t Get Lost in The Shuffle, Be Unique. “I think the most important thing is to be unique. The last thing anyone wants to do is get lost in the shuffle. Very cliche but practice makes perfect, no one’s a hit overnight.” -Stephen Thompson of Pyknik Clothing

2. Sacrifice For Longtime Accomplishments. “You have to be willing to sacrifice for longterm accomplishments, and be willing to lose, over and over again.” -Jimiyo

3. Do Your Research Before You Start Your Brand. “Advice to all your entrepenureal readers, have your ducks in a row before you start. This was kind of a joke and reaction to some hilarious decisons while at a party and I started something with little knowledge or idea of what I wanted. So make sure you have your mind right. Also gobs of money and gorgeous women to model wouldn’t hurt either.” -Andy Meyer of Rethink Clothing

4. Be Passionate and Work Like You Have Something To Prove. “When you love what you do and are passionate about something, there’s nothing that can stop you, especially from your dreams and goals. I think sometimes your best work comes from when you’re the most down. Like you have something to prove.” Kyle Crawford of Electric Zombie

5. Goals and Accomplishments Take Time To Accomplish. “Man, we have so many goals that we would like to accomplish it just takes time.” -Daren Girdner of Never In Wonderland

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Indie Tee Spotlight: Rethink Clothing

Welcome to this weeks Indie Tee Spotlight! This week I feature Rethink Clothing and its founder, Andy Meyer. Rethink Clothing is a unique clothing brand with a unique target audience and unique designer base. I was fortunate to have been able to have a word with Rethink’s Andy Meyer to discuss his brand, his designs and the future of Rethink Clothing. 

Coty: Rethink is unlike any other clothing company out there. Your clothing company has adopted a different approach when it comes to choosing designers. Explain this premise to me.

Andy Meyer: At Rethink I am really trying to switch up how things are done design wise. The unique thing is that I chose only college enrolled artists. Now, I am willing to admit I have had one designer who wasn’t in college. You may think, doesn’t this ruin your core premise? Not really, Grant is a high school kid, who has become a friend of mine through Emptees. While he isn’t in college you will be happy to know my money went to buying his parking pass for school and towards his car so he can get to college.

Coty: As graduate student myself, I know the college students are a feisty and particular bunch with a lot of punch. What attracted you to choosing college students as your designers?

Andy Meyer: Actually in my working I have encountered little feistiness and more welcoming arms. I see Rethink as a way for designers to have a great outlet for their talent and great start to a portfolio. Also, any college student who is looking for an actual worthwhile project other than some B.S fake sign for a fictional donut shop. More than that though is the fact that each designer brings some different background, edge, style, talent, and attitude. I think this all leads to a stronger brand with mucho appeal.

Coty: You mentioned in the past that Rethink is run solely by you. Is this still the case? What advice do you have to for intrepid youngsters wanting to start their own line of tees?

Andy Meyer: Rethink is still only staffed by me. Now this isnt really the case, I have a solid support network of friends who help me make decisions, balance books and promote. Advice to all your entrepenureal readers, have your ducks in a row before you start. This was kind of a joke and reaction to some hilarious decisons while at a party and I started something with little knowledge or idea of what I wanted. So make sure you have your mind right. Also gobs of money and gorgeous women to model wouldn’t hurt either.

Coty: You’re about to release some new tee designs to your online store, talk to us a little bit about these designs. How do each of these new designs reflect the Rethink Brand?

Andy Meyer: Yes sir. Well I have only one more new design coming out and new scheme of the super soaker shirt. The shirt by Andrew Olivier is awesome. He is a college freshman from Canada and an awesome artist. His style is something new for rethink, but the theme is something I love. On the shirt you can see a city on a shelf which is falling and there are people parachuting out of the buildings. This is Rethink at its heart – something airy, fun and not what you would expect or find anywhere else. I am starting now to hone my design choosing skills to things that you cant find elsewhere and that have an air of oddity to them, such as a half naked lady on the wing of a space shuttle.

Coty: Aspiring wrestler, Johnny Vinyl, earned sponsorship from Rethink Clothing earlier this year. Any new sponsorship developments?

Andy Meyer: Not for now. Johnny is a wild man though which is awesome, he is quite the college entrepenuer which is what really make me wanna sponsor the guy. Also, It is always nice to know my shirts are being worn by a man flying off the ropes, it brings up my brands street cred. I am always looking to sponsor someone who has a unique edge to them, whether that be an awesome band or a collegiate underwater basket weaving team. Know anyone???

Coty: Shirt.Woot has featured Rethink clothing as side deals twice now. Have you submitted Rethink designs to be a Shirt.Woot tee of the day? How has being featured on Shirt.Woot affected sales at Rethink?

Andy Meyer: Awesome, Awesome, is all I can say about Shirt.Woot and Phil at Woot in general. They have extended to me an amazing oppurtunity that has helped expand me into a fledgling little business. I haven’t submitted anything to Woot on the design side, probably because most of my designs look like I did them while drunk and in MS Paint.

Coty: Finally, for students interested in designing for your company, how would they go about doing this?

Andy Meyer: Really, the way I do it now is by having students send me an email saying they are interested, what style they like to do and a portfolio of some past work. When I see a project that will be awesome for the brand then I will hit them up!

*Thanks to Andy Meyer and Rethink Clothing for taking the time to discuss all the cool things happening at Rethink. Keep up the great work!