Meet Portland's Hub For Hip-Hop, Skateboard & Pop Culture
is a company based out of Portland, Oregon that's become a hub for hip-hop, skateboard, and pop culture as they sell everything from American and Japanese streetwear to highly coveted vintage pieces. We spoke with the founder Cam Gilly about his experience starting Heir in 2017 when Portland's retail scene desperately needed a serious resell shop to now having the likes of Lil Yachty and Travis Scott visiting the store where they host music shows, clothing events, and develop their own garments under the Heir brand. In addition, we also spoke with Cam about his favorite events he's hosted, potential plans for expansion, and his plan to continue using the company as a means to showcase his passions while employing his friends and furthering the culture in Portland, and soon the world.
Where are you from?
Cam: I grew up in a small town outside of Portland, Oregon.
When did you start Heir Portland?
Cam: The concept began Spring of 2017, and we opened doors on September 30th, 2017.
Where does the name Heir come from?
Cam: There is a lot of meaning to the name, part of it we’d rather keep personal. To be honest it was an elegant way to let people know that most of our selection is second hand, not necessarily “worn”, but owned by someone else before you.
How would you describe Heir Portland?
Cam: I hate to put ourselves in a box. If you asked 5 separate individuals you would get 5 completely different answers, but at the end of the day we are a home for like minded individuals. Forward-thinkers.
In a literal sense, we have tried to emulate a generationally “cool” environment. Items from streetwear, skateboarding, hiphop, and pop culture lace the walls. Current and old. If you’re twelve years old and just beginning your collection, or a long time avid collector we have something in shop for you. We have our store separated in 4 parts. American streetwear, Japanese streetwear courtesy of FamShop, Vintage, and what is now called “archive” fashion. They compliment each other well because for the last two decades they have collaborated/referenced each other throughout. It’s always cool to me when we have a vintage piece that Supreme has copied, as well the Supreme piece itself in store at the same time.
What made you want to own your own store?
Cam: I didn't actually. I mean I obviously love what I’m doing, but to be honest I never aspired to “own a store”. It's something I’m struggling to break the stereotype of. Although I do own my store I also do all the graphic design, event planning, and more (not to discredit other store owners, I just want to set myself apart). Most of the work I’m proud of gets shadowed by the fact that I am the owner, if that makes any sense. I want ownership of my store to just be one of the few things I am known for.
Portland needed us when we opened. It was in a terrible place retail wise and no serious resell shops were open. We are still the only shop in Portland that has items for sale and not on consignment.
Were you always interested in fashion and streetwear growing up?
Cam: Yes. It has always been a way for me to express how I’m feeling. I don't have a “style” because I don't want to be predictable, ever, even to myself.
What was the initial reception like for the store in Portland?
Cam: Amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better reaction. A lot of people did doubt us, but like I said before Portland needed us. Thank you to everyone that has supported us thus far!
You guys sell a lot of hype brands like Supreme and Bape, but you’re also well versed in the next generation of upcoming brands, correct?
Cam: Yes, I try to stay up to date as possible with brands/individuals that are making noise. I’m only 23 and a lot of these upcoming brands are owned by my friends/peers, so it would be ignorant of me not to be versed. Do I support all of the brands? No, and don’t take that as me being negative. Know what you like and stick by it.
What up and coming brands do you think have the potential to be known on the same scale as Supreme/Bape in the future?
Cam: Hmmm, prediction is always a hard one. I don't want to speak about anyone I don't know personally. So, let me pick one I do. Half-Evil. Co-owned by my close friend Sam. Half-Evil is definitely one brand that will stand the test of time. I don't have to tell you all the reasons why unless you've been living under a rock.
Do you think Heir will eventually transition to reselling clothing from the next generation of streetwear brands?
Cam: I was hoping you would ask me this. I do see the potential in these brands to resell, but I’d rather work directly with the brands to provide their items at retail price to my customers. As these brands rise I want to be part of the narrative in a positive way. Profit with them, not profit off them. We are the first store to carry Half-Evil at retail and I hope that other brands will follow. Hit me up.
What are your favorite brands based out of Portland?
Cam: Stacy House, By M100, and Lupes Grocery Store.
I'm also gonna take this time to shout out The Culture PDX, Cult, and Index. Three stores from Portland I support 100% and you should check out if you ever find yourself in Portland!
What about Heir resonates with the youth enough to have them consistently hanging out at the store?
Cam: Again, this is a question probably better answered by someone else not involved with the company directly. I believe the reason we have connected so well with the youth is because like the youth we are not afraid of change. We don't follow the “hype” by any means but this industry and world is ever-changing. If you’re not willing to adapt to your surroundings you will become extinct.
Foreseeing what Portland needs and providing that is what I do best.
In addition to the youth, you’ve had athletes and music artists such as Lil Yachty, Sheckwes, Wifisfuneral and many others stop by the store. Who’s the person you were most excited about when they stopped by Heir?
Cam: Financially speaking Travis Scott. The amount of people that came by the store the day of, and week after he stopped by was truly crazy. Personally speaking there is too many to name and too many reasons why. I have made friendships that will last a lifetime with some of these people and that is what I'm truly excited about. I do want to thank madeintyo for his continued support and also being the first artist to stop by.
In addition to selling clothing, you guys also host events with other clothing brands and music performances, correct?
Cam: Yes are we constantly hosting events, and plan to host many more this year.
How did the Brigade x Heir pop up from earlier last year happen?
Cam: My best friend and business partner, Kyan. I’m not totally sure how him and Aaron (the owner of Brigade) met but I do know it was at some point in his time in NY. Before Kyan and I opened the store he was already buying and wearing Brigade constantly. It was something that was going to happen eventually, it was just a matter of time.
What did people think of it?
Cam: Everyone loved it. Because we are from two opposite ends of the country it kind of threw some people off, in a good way. The event went well and the product sold better than expected. I'm more excited to see what people think of part two.
Is hosting an event like that Heir’s way of introducing the youth of Portland to new up and coming clothing brands?
Cam: Yes, I think that Portland continues to grow their trust in what we are doing. Had we done this much sooner it probably would not have been as successful. We are looking to bring many more brands here as soon as possible.
What’s your favorite event that Heir has hosted or been a part of so far?
Cam: Ah man there have been so many now that even I forget some of them! I’ll choose one we've hosted, and one we were apart of.
was super amazing and something that I’m working on having happen again soon. Check out his instagram if you haven't.
The Death Tour show. Death Tour is an upcoming music collective from Portland that hosted a show last summer we helped sponsor. Shit was nuts, check their music out.
Talk about your Cam Gilly Flea Markets, what made you want to start doing those?
Cam: The months before starting them I had been traveling to Los Angeles monthly for the Rose Bowl flea, and I wanted to bring a piece of that experience home with me. It was also another void in our city. A lot of kids and adults with really desirable vintage clothing didn't have a platform to sell outside the normal online sources. It started as something I thought would happen maybe three times a year, and now I am officially having them the first Saturday of every month. If you plan to visit Portland, do it the first weekend of the month so you can stop by and see it yourself.
What should people expect to see at your flea markets that are now happening every month?
Cam: The best selection of vintage clothing in the northwest. 40+ vendors under one roof in downtown Portland. You will find amazing items for even better prices. I’ve started to get sneaker vendors and tamale booths so who knows what’s next. The only thing you can expect is I will be bringing these flea markets elsewhere!
You guys also release your own Heir merch as well, correct?
Cam: Yes, we are trying to identify as more of a brand now instead of “merch”. It definitely started as that but as the company matured so did our clothing. They used to be an extra item someone would purchase to support the shop, now we have a cult following that purchases almost everything we release. This year I am focusing on making our in house line much stronger.
Where did you come up with the idea for the “Heir Head” hoodies and tees you’ve released in the past?
Cam: It was one of the first designs I made for the shop. I think it works well because not only is it a rip off, like being a “sneakerhead” we have a small following of people I would call “heir heads” meaning they follow and support everything that we do.
You guys have collaborated with local jewelers to make Heir pendants and local tailors to make denim Heir Bears, but what’s your favorite collaboration you’ve done to date?
Cam: My personal favorite is still our first, Stacy House. It was organic and a segway to the current business relationship we have. Hopefully more will come, sooner than later.
Are there any other brands or designers you want to work with in the future?
Cam: I would be lying if I said no. I don't have anyone directly in mind though. My life is really busy and I barely have the time to think about what I want to eat. I do know we have collaborations coming with a handful of brands also found on this app, but I don't want to speak on them just yet.
Are there any other garments, mediums or accessories you want to experiment with in the future?
Cam: I am playing with a couple concepts currently. I think that logo awareness is a large reason why many brands excel over others. Putting our branding on objects that are used more than a t-shirt and hoodie is my next experiment.
Would you ever consider opening additional stores in cities with a strong youth presence and art/fashion scene?
Cam: Yes, I would love to! Do I see it happening anytime soon? No. We've been in Portland just over 2 years. I’d hate to waste all this energy I’ve put into bringing my city up over opening another location somewhere else. We will be doing interim shops in many different cities starting very soon!
If we were to open another location anytime soon it would also be located in Oregon.
Heir has been around for over two years now and has seen great success. What do want to accomplish with Heir in the next two years?
Cam: Thank you, I would like to see a lot. Considering 2 years ago I had big ambitions for now, I want to become more consistent. There is a lot of kinks in our hose that need worked out. It kind of feels like I built a house and now I need to go build the foundation for it. Everything till now has been on a whim. I finally have the experience to make what works perfect, and cut out what I can’t get right. I want to accomplish consistency while still being unpredictable.
What should we expect to see next from Heir?
Cam: More everything.
What do you want Heir to become at the end of the day?
Cam: I want it to become whatever it needs to be. I want it to exist long beyond me. I’ve come to realize that expecting something is basically setting yourself up for failure. Say I decide now what I want heir to become at the end of the day, I will eventually disappoint myself. If I can use this company I've created to continue showcasing my passions while employing my friends no matter what we’re interested in, only then will I continue to be happy. At the end of the day all of us just want to be happy, right?
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