The concept of Urban Street Wear is not new, since the 60’s the image or graphic message found its way from the highway billboards to the chests of America’s youth. We have seen everything from “Have a nice Day” to “Go $#@% Yourself” and there are many independent artists, designers and major labels that saturate the market with their vision of that is hot and what is not. The center of the mass market image campaign of most “designers” is how to maximize the money making potential and just print, print, print, until the newness of the fad design has passed, only to hope it becomes retro and returns for more money making potential. Personally, I find that the T-Shirt fad is passed on from one cheap shirt printers to another, or at least I did until I met with Akomplice.
Akomplice is a small company founded on the concept that style should not be stupid and fashion is not always about the dollar. I met with a representative of the new flagship store for Akomplice in Santa Barbara, CA and we took a brief tour of the store and discussed what Akomplice is all about. The vision behind Akomplice and their line started with the “In Your face” image and message companionship of art with a strong street flavor and the message of youth and social change, looking forward to a day of equality among all, this was the companies first step to greatness. Akomplice used their dream to bring street fashion design out of the darkness, the artwork on the shirts represent the vision of the artist as a messenger of hope and change, that hard images can be used to inform and educate, bringing about a world view to their patrons.
Akomplice quickly moved into working with musical artists and personalities to create a charitable concept of collector’s designs, artwork, CD’s and gift boxes. One such Gift Box was The Doom Box; the buyer gets a sealed wooden box, enclosed is a limited edition Shirt, gift items and music media, all the items are worth more than the sale price of less than 50.00, but each sales proceeds went to charities and the company has made a mark on the local fashion market with their philanthropy.
Akomplice has moved into more than just T-Shirts, they have increased their line to include button down shirts, slacks, shorts and jackets. They have created a full fashion wardrobe with season attentive ideas and great sense of line and look. The recent line is a blend of durable materials used in uniquely creative color matches and simple texture blends. The lines of accessories are utilitarian but do not lack any creativity to use, and are easy to mix and match.
I can easily say that the lines of design for Akomplice are not just for the beach or the college frat party, but are real fashion concept for the people who want great comfort and outstanding value in their wardrobe choices, and want to look and feel special. Akomplice small run approach allows them introduce new designs in season run, rather than create a line of 10 shirt designs for the year, they will produce almost 10 times more, using multiple art designs and illustrative ideas, they can make their flexibility a true advantage and make the patron feel their choice in just as unique as they are.
The interior of the store is sparse, hip and full of art, keeping to murals and hanging renditions of their designs and art from local artisans, it has a upscale feel that you would expect in Los Angeles, New York and other metro locations, but staff is knowledgeable about fashion and look to help their clients find just the right look. We talked about their grand opening party held just a week before our interview and I was told they had a packed, standing room only house. The local “fashionistas” as well as the consumer public truly appreciated Akomplice's whole concept and the flagship location is making a name for themselves.
“Akomplice's mission is to bring fresh concepts and artful expressions to heads across the globe. Our designs reflect the things that inspire us: nature, philosophy, hip-hop culture, cinema, art, politics, and music. We want our ideas and images to make a positive impact, provoke thought, and communicate about issues that are affecting the world today. Making Akomplice into a profitable business that stays fresh, creative, and fun is one of our biggest goals. To us, true success is making clothing that we love, and that people love”.
From dressing hip-hop icons like Ice T,Big Boi (of Outkast) and Raekwon to having their gear showcased on HBO’s Entourage, Akomplice has made consistent moves to spread the word about their clothing where major retailers across the nation are clamoring to get in on the action. Instead of trying to retail in Wal-Mart or Target, Akomplice Clothing have partnered with retailers like Fuzion and other boutique style locations. The keeping it real ideal, selling out of the big brand locations would feel like “selling out” to Akomplice.