Update 11-15: I have since re-branded FEND into something more long-term. Stay tuned!
The FEND brand is for the Ambitious x Rebel: a dreamchaser that isn't defined by rules, society, or fear; his tenacious drive for success is by any means necessary.
FEND [fend] verb. - to defend one's mindset from any blows, setbacks, or letting life's "trap" win over; FENDing while on your journey in life to stake your claim in this world. Whatever your claim may be: making your dreams come true, getting your dream car, women, doing well financially and giving back to your parents, making the team, setting sports records,... any dream you set for yourself to achieve.
Reasons for the name FEND:
The "Ambitious x Rebel" mission/slogan is something near and dear to my heart. I eat, sleep, and breathe my dreams and I don't let the norms of society tell me what my dreams should be nor conform my passions or pursuit in any way to get them. I know many others can directly relate and thus why I absolutely fell in love with FEND as a brand and what it stands for.
FEND's mission goes a step deeper to me because I have failed so many times. I've had sooo many setbacks and mediocre results during my entrepreneurial journey that I am no way near where I want to be in life. Through hitting the lowest of lows, the breakdowns, missing out on precious youth of life, questioning just giving all the way up; I always dust myself off, get right back up and do it again. My blind optimism and stubborness is a double-edged sword. I often study others who have made it successful (not even in just the streetwear industry but everything from web startups to Chipotle franchises to real estate) and I know deep down inside if they can make it, I can make it.
The official icon is the Red Crowned Crane named AxR.
After struggling with a few previous alright icon ideas; the Red Crowned Crane hit me like a ton of bricks. After this aha moment; I put my head down to design and finally perfected this logo after countless revisions.
I feel I really hit the nail on the head when it comes to portraying FEND by:
The official wordmark logo is a star shaped box logo.
I knew from the get go that I wanted a traditional box logo where the word FEND was contained inside a red background as the entire wordmark logo. The problem with this is that there are two major brands already doing this. After playing with many, many versions; I eventually polished it down to what I call the starbox and fell in love with it after I saw how this logo popped out on actual products. So what do you do when you fall in love with a design but is questionable? Ask friends, other designers, people in the industry already, etc.
After asking and analyzing opinions from people; I ultimately decided that the advantages of this wordmark logo outweighed the disadvantages. It could be seen as a slight rip from OBEY or Supreme but the brand makes the logo not vice versa. The differences in style and design in FEND can easily be seen from my pieces compared to theirs and their targetted market in their lines. Another concern is that FEND is very close to FENDI; even though it's legally my last name, it could still raise some issues down the road since we are both in the apparel industry. In order to help that (and in addition help the starbox gain brand recognition) the entire starbox and word will almost always be used as one and never just the word FEND in a design.
9 months ago, FEND was merely a passionate idea I came up with during lunch. Today, I can say I am proud of the progress that has been made. And although growth has been a bit slower than expected; FEND has started gaining some traction.
These are some of my highlights:
Sold over 40 FEND snapbacks via website I created (I am a web designer; hit me for any advice) with full e-commerce Magento shopping cart software and also a custom themed Wordpress blog attached. The best part of the sales are that 90% of those were complete strangers and not just friends supporting my brand! Only snapbacks were for sale online as I haven't launched the line of tanks/shirts yet. During the past few months while I was working on the upcoming tanks/shirts launch; I was doing zero marketing. Hoping once I get back on it, things will really take off...
Developed a strong following online, mainly through my Instagram. I am now nearing 4,000 followers but most importantly; they are all legit supporters. Feels great when people show love to your products, future designs, and ask where to buy stuff I post.
Designed and got woven labels for the products; they are sewn in at the bottom seams of the shirts or the back or inside of the snapback hats. They are quality too, nice and solid construction.
Made stickers! Everybody loves stickers! Really good quality vinyl stickers that are not shabby in size, sitting at around 4" wide and 2" tall after the kisscut.
These are the 2" x 3" hangtags I created. The icon logo and the website on the front, the reverse side is solid red and has 'FEND made in Los Angeles, Designed in Nashville' at the bottom but the back is mainly empty space for placing UPCs on. They are pretty high quality for a hangtag; the printing on them and the thick material (16pt coverstock) definitely doesn't look or feel cheap.
The last highlight I have is a local boutique here will soon be carrying my line! This is going to be an awesome step for FEND. They have two stores here in the city and are the most respected streetwear boutique in the area carrying Staple, Joyrich, 10 Deep, HUF, Stussy, Black Scale, etc.; it will feel great seeing my brand alongside some of their products.
Theme: I really don't have a specific theme for this first collection. IMO; the brand is not strong enough yet to get peopIe to just wear the name so I am pumping out a mix of dope trendy designs with branded elements in there to tie it with FEND. The branded elements being either 1) a play on the Ambitious x Rebel mission or 2) the icon crane logo or brand name FEND somehow incorporated.
Target: The majority of my designs are towards the early majority (hypebeasts that a bit more risk-taking than your average); meaning that a little more than half are designed with the mindset to play on what is currently the trend but unique enough to stand apart from the super commercial stuff. I want FEND to start in boutiques, and depending on a few things; either stick with giving exclusive contracts to one or two boutiques in each city or even try to get into popular streetwear chains, not totally sure.
Pricing: I set a same level pricing on all my tees and tanks at $30 a piece. Snapback hats are $40. My products are quality and the attention to detail is there to warrant a higher price (American Apparel, each piece comes with a vinyl sticker, bottom woven labels, design, awesome screen print quality with great stretch test and no cracking, etc.). I know the brand isn't that strong yet, but it's a bold and confident move to say "hey, my product and designs are just as good as theirs". I also want people to recognize my brand as not being a cheap one; if anyone ever sees someone wearing FEND; I want them to think, they dropped some decent change on that.
Colorway: Red, Black, White, and Light Aqua.
My thinking in this piece is that the icon logo's design is strong enough that people will rock it just because it looks good. So far, many people have given great feedback on it. If I'm right; this will be a double win and put FEND in a great position to become a strong, recognizable brand.
This is piece is aimed at a bit more riskier style. The design will actually fly over quite a few heads, but those that do get it and the play on words can appreciate the art of simplicity behind it.
These pieces are a bit more "safe" and incorporates good design by using a nice custom script font and use of colorways. These are versatile for anybody's outfit and aimed at those that want to make the statement of "yeah; this shirt looks nice as hell and you don't recognize the brand name yet because I am a step ahead on my brand game".
Wordplay is an emotional based piece. The heart graphic itself has elements in it that can portrayed in many different ways, coupling that with the word FIEND takes it to another level. Taking it yet another notch; the letter I is crossed out and spells out FEND which can be defined as a verb to 'defend oneself from attack or blows'. This is a deep, thought provoking shirt that will turn heads of curiousity.
This is a hypebeast design here. It plays on portraying aspects of "living that life" and popular culture.
A statement piece that incorporates the Ambitious x Rebel mission but also using the versatile, yet powerful made up word of 'UNFUCKWITTABLE'. Again; like the Wordplay piece, this can be taken in many ways, but majorly it oozes confidence when one wears this piece.
Snapback hats were the very first pieces of clothing I started with. The designs vary from basic to hypebeasty to risky first adopter patterns. I used the FEND starbox logo on all the hats, and this was another major reason in keeping the FEND starbox logo. The sales of these hats proved my theory that the starbox logo is strong enough in design and looks good enough as stand alone that people will rock it regardless of the name on there (hoping the crane logo does the same).
I understand that patterns come and go and my future plans with hats is to eventually be able to sell them because they are FEND hats and not so much because they are trendy. For the next seasons; I'm going to keep throwing out a mix of using popular patterns and also start introducing plain'er hats that incorporate more branded stuff like the crane logo, etc.
I'm currently running FEND from Nashville, TN but my dream is to have a flagship store in L.A. Some cool things that God has blessed me with is that I am a self-taught graphic artist/web designer & programmer. I'm also blessed to have a very business savvy mind with creative internet & SEO marketing talents (one site I built had 1 million visitors a year!).
I've been a serial entrepreneur for the past 7 years of my life, mainly building website and web app startups. I was in it deep and even started a respectable 500 meetup group for entrepreneurs here in Nashville called http://www.GROWNashville.com. I sold a few for some change but nothing near what time I put into them. Eventually, I got totally burned out in the isolated web startup world.
I gained a lot of experience and knowledge these past years of what to and what not to do (lol) and hope to apply all this into FEND. FEND and it's mission is something very special to me and I really want to build on it for a long, long time. I didn't realize how much passion I had for designing clothes until I felt the inner personal satisfaction I got from people who praised my art; a feeling I never got from any of my past businesses.
Furthermore, more than designing; I love guiding and helping people out that are struggling getting their website up, don't know where to start, or need advice. Feel free to hit me up anytime!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about, leaving feedback, and liking FEND! I wish the best for everybody else in this class (I see some really, really solid brands); we are all striving for the same things and I can't wait to see many of you gain great success!