Fifteen year veterans of the independent music business, live events producers, and all around local icons, OM Records is now getting into fashion with the release of their first collection of tees, and a launch party at Hayes Valley’s Azalea. The day before the event, Om Records CEO Chris Smith sat down to talk about music, fashion and the Future with Style Wylde.
SW: You’ve been a label for 15 years, what inspired you to create an apparel line now.
Chris: We’ve always done logowear for the label, but we first decided to do a line about three years ago. We worked with a few different artists, and were never happy with the results, so we put it aside and we got busy with our label business and our events. Then more recently, we had a lot of success with our "Mushroom Jazz"and our “I (lotus) OM” tees. After those successes we decided to transform our logowear into a real line.
SW: Is your focus menswear or womenswear?
Chris: Our four styles are all Menswear, however we do have women’s styles coming soon.
SW: What was that process in creating this collection?
Chris: The first thing we did was contact a local designer, Erik Otto design a few prints for us. He took our logo [the lotus flower] and worked it into our first four prints. We then had to learn everything about the process, from developing the colorway, to printing tees, to actually getting it into stores. We started out slow, because we wanted to really learn how to do it right.
SW: How are the first styles doing, are you in stores locally?
Chris: We are in fifteen boutiques across Northern and Southern California, including Azalea in Hayes Valley and Destructure on Haight Street.
SW: Tell me a little about the tees themselves.
Chris: We primarily print on organic cotton stock from Alternative Apparel, but we also use American Apparel. Each shirt has a hang tag that comes with it that is a download card for free music.
SW: What a great idea.
Chris: We really want to tie it all together we wanted it to all make sense.
SW: Now that the first 4-style collection is in stores, what will you do next?
Chris: For our follow up collection, which will have both Mens and Womens styles we worked with another local artist named Sam Flores. He did a painting for us, which was deconstructed into panels for the artwork on our 15th Anniversary Compilation Album. We then took sections of Sam's album artwork and created designs for our next line, of Mens and Womens tees, v-necks, tanks and hoodies with higher-end detailing.
SW: When will the follow-up styles be in stores?
Chris: In about 6 weeks.
SW: When do you see the full OM records line going into production?
Chris: Our goal is to have the full line, which will be sportswear, to show in February at one of the MAGIC off-shoot shows.
SW: Who do you see as a customer for these collections?
Chris: There is definitely an appeal for the OM Records fan, but we see a lot of cross over too, the brand OM as a concept transcends the music, we have a lot of customers in the yoga and outdoor market, and we foresee a lot of fashion customers getting into the line whether or not they are fans of the label.
SW: Tomorrow night at Azalea boutique in Hayes Valley is throwing an event for the launch of your line with DJ sets by Amp Live and J Boogie, and your tee Shirt designer E-Otto, how did this event come about?
Chris: When we first showed the line to Azalea they loved it, and they actually came up with the event concept. We’ve done a lot of big nightclub events in San Francisco, but this was the first in-store boutique event , and it was really their idea.
Where do you see the line in 5 years? Any plans for other categories?
Chris: We are going to start doing bags, we already have a few design ideas. We are also currently working with a company called Peasant Traveler on a co-branded series for early next year. But in five years, well (laughs) I see this small collection that is really in its infancy now, growing into a very cool full sportswear line. We don't have any big plans or goals for sales numbers, we just want to go slow, learn how to do it, and do it right.
Azalea Boutique is located at the corner of Hayes and Gough in San Francisco; the OM Apparel launch party will be from 6-9PM on Thursday July 30.