Fashion, specifically menswear, is in the midst of a heritage moment. Brands are going back to their roots to embrace workwear, tradition and ties to the community. So much manufacturing is now being done overseas and mass quantities, the appeal of homegrown material and local sourcing is understandable to the mindful consumer. New brands are taking to local first mindset to capitalize on the trend and grow their business - small can be good.
One of these brands is vitaminTHICK, based in Boston, Massachusetts. It was founded by two brand architects Elliott Curtis and Andrew Shedd as a progressive streetwear brand. Their concept is based on the nostalgia of childhood and growing up in the '80's and '90's. All items are released as designer-limited runs and are numbered so they also become instant collectors items - like baseball cards. Graphics range from their adorable squirrel logo to their interpretations of classic logos (a streetwear trend started by Stussy) like the NBA Jam video game, beloved by NBA fans of all ages.
Basketball nostalgia is a strong influence throughout the line. "He Got Game" - one of my favorite films of all time and the genesis for my blog and Twitter name, is paid tribute to in a "Jesus is my homeboy" t-shirt. Jesus Shuttlesworth, the young basketball phoneme protagonist of the film, is played by Boston Celtic guard and future hall of famer, Ray Allen. Allen has saved the Celtics on many occasion and Curtis wanted to pay tribute to his favorite player. He even bedazzled a "Jesus is my homeboy" shirt and presented it to Allen's number one fan, his mom Flo, at the 2011 All-Star game. Another basketball link comes in a less obvious way. North Carolina rapper and producer Brey Quick is managed by vitaminTHICK. He produces his mixtapes with the brand and sports their gear at every opportunity. Quick played four years of college at High Point University as well as professionally for two years in Iceland.Curtis also played AAU basketball growing up so the two have a connection to the basketball community that could prove integral in marketing, appeal and reach of the brand. It also allows for all-inclusive entertainment at events and parties so the company is able to produce their own package deal.
vitaminTHICK recently held a release event at Vault in Harlem, New York City. The full line was on display and Brey Quick performed two sets while a DJ played music throughout the day. This was the first time I was able to see the items up close and the quality is impressive. The apparel items are manufactured in the United States and have modern silhouettes. The line is fitted without being snug and the cotton used is soft but not thin. Quality at a reasonable price for t-shirt and cut and sew brand is difficult for a relatively new brand and keeping the items in small runs seems to have halted any quality control issues in their tracks. The tees are fun, bright and the smaller sizes could be worn by women as the items are properly sized.
The event also marked my first time at Vault. The store is clean, modern with the bank vault theme throughout the store in the display cases. They had a stage set up in the front for Quick's performance and a DJ area as well. Vault is a sneaker store with a Nike account, plenty of streetwear, rows upon rows of snapbacks and fitted to match all of your kicks, sunglasses, and jewelry, including the ubiquitous black diamond bracelets. Their own line of apparel have some great retro inspired graphics, I'm a big of their fan of their brand new "Mr. MVP" shirts in their Paper Chaser line. It's worth the trip to check out the shop and it's a very quick jaunt from the main Harlem strip on 125th Street when you want to get away from the big box stores and support the local spot.
vitaminTHICK is available for purchase at Vault in New York City as well through their online store and in fourteen other stockists in the USA. The prices are reasonable ranging from $20-40 for tees and tanks and $50-90 for hoodies, crewnecks and zip-ups. You can download Quick's latest mixtape "Skyed Up" here and his next project will be dropping sometime in the fall. Vault NYC is at 2498 Frederick Douglas Boulevard between 133rd and 134th Street in Harlem. Check out the photos below for more from the event and detail shots of the vitaminTHICK product. Get 'em before they're gone.