It’s been quite a while since an American fashion brand featured here on FatKidOnFire – too long in my opinion (so long, in fact, that I can’t quite remember which American brand last featured here on FKOF). So when I was contacted by the following brand (who are based out of LA) asking if we could sort something out, I jumped at the chance…
[Photo by Describe the Fauna]
California’s Altru Apparel are a wonderful looking graphic brand of t-shirts who are on the verge of seemingly taking the world by storm. Having grown from being stocked in independent ’boutiques’ to the larger, more mainstream chains like Urban Outfitters, Liberty and Harvey Nichols; chances are you may have come across Altru before – but you might not have known it…
Who and what is Altru Apparel? Altru Apparel is owner Jonny, his design team Charlie, Kyle and co. We’re a Los Angeles-based graphic t-shirt line; combining the best of fit, fabric, and design. We feature original graphics celebrating the iconic American lifestyle, from the Eastern Seaboard to the California Coast. Heritage tees, nautical designs, Native patterns, vintage signage, and good vibes from the California surf culture, are all in the assortment. In addition to Altru Originals, we design tees for our collaborations with iconic brands like Life Magazine, The New York Times, Polaroid, Popeye, Felix the Cat, and others.
Given your six years of history trading as Altru and the current job markets, is running a clothing brand something you’d recommend doing? We’ve been on the scene for 10 years actually, continuing to grow regardless of fluctuations in the market. As with any business, there are risks built in- whether it be the cost of cotton, or the gas prices going up which is reflected in shipping costs, so if you’re risk-averse, no, don’t start a clothing brand. If it’s something you’re passionate about, you are stimulated by a little bit of risk, and you genuinely believe you have a new voice to add to the market, then absolutely – apparel is a great industry to be a part of.
How important has the internet and social media been in enabling you to grow the brand? Honestly, we’re only just starting to fully dive into the social media arena. Our brand has grown over the past 10 years primarily through word of mouth, trade shows, and consumers enthusiastically responding to our product. We’re excited about the opportunities that various social media platforms will afford us; we just revamped our website to include our current lookbooks, press photos, and an online shop – and we’re posting fresh inspiration to our blog daily. We’ve already started to see a nice response from fans and followers.
Your product range is fairly diverse; with designs from different brands. What would you say defines the Altru brand and what plans have you got to extend the product line in the future? I think what defines the Altru brand is that we don’t pigeon hole our aesthetic. We aren’t in thrall to any one hermetically sealed “style”. We create graphics that are current, wearable, and fresh; it’s a lifestyle brand for the customer who doesn’t feel the need to narrowly define him or herself.
What does or will distinguish Altru from the other independent clothing on the market these days? First and foremost is quality. Quality in every aspect of the line: quality graphics, quality printing, quality fabric, quality fit. We don’t think that any of those qualities should be sacrificed for another. We want our tees to fit, feel, and look perfect every time you throw one on.
What’s your take on the independent clothing scene in the UK at the moment? Do you know of any brands similar to Altru over here? I’m kind of stumped on this one… Haven’t been to London in too long! We’re hoping to go there soon… Can we crash at your flat? [By all means!]
What do you think the future holds for Altru? Where do you think you’ll be in a years’ time? In a years time, we see ourselves featuring our women’s line that’s been on the back burner for a little while now, and branching out into outerwear and sweaters for men.
Where can people expect to catch your product; is Altru stocked in any British stores? What was the rationale behind going with the bigger stores like Urban Outfitters/ Bloomingdales but also stocking in ‘independent boutiques’? You can usually find us at Urban Outfitters and Aspecto, Liberty and Harvey Nichols from time to time… We started out with independent boutiques, they are the ones who have built us. Saying that, the larger department stores have access to a wider audiences which is also important to us…
[Photo by Describe the Fauna]
Top 5 favourite albums?
Charlie recent(ish) albums:
- Pete & The Pirates – 1,000 Pictures
- Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls
- Can – Tago Mago
- Django Django – Django Dgango
- Generationals – Actor-Caster
Charlie all time faves:
- Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
- Belle and Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
- Pulp – Different Class
- Brian Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets
- The Smiths – Strange Ways Here We Come
Kyle recent(ish) albums:
- The Men – Open Your Heart
- Girls – Father, Son & Holy Ghost
- The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient
- Panda Bear – Tomboy
- Visions – EP
Kyle all time faves:
- Skip Spence – Oar
- Paul Simon – Graceland
- Pixies – Surfer Rosa
- Patti Smith – Horses
- Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle
Any shoutouts? We love everyone.
Altru are a departure from the normal sort of fashion brand that usually features here on FatKidOnFire (but hey, this week’s been a good one for departing from the norm).
The team’s quite possibly a success story that’s on its way to happening (or has started to happen already). Although these guys are based in the US, where it strikes me to be a bit easier to get noticed/ get the support every brand needs (to take it to that next step) – I can’t help but feel Altru might be an example the smaller streetwear brands here in the UK could look up to… A lot of hard work, some killer collaborations and sorting some nice stockist deals. Or is that just me? Sound off in the comments if you dis/agree.
You can find Altru on Facebook and Twitter (they might also be on Instagram as @altruapparel but none of the web portals I use for IG are picking them up). For the all important webstore, head over to their new website to have a look at what’s on offer.
If you have any thoughts on what’s been said in the FKOF feature with Altru Apparel, or want to recommend a new brand you’ve discovered – or even just want a chat about something you’ve seen on FatKidOnFire, drop a comment below or get in touch via email, Twitter, Facebook or the FKOF TakesQuestions page.