The Underground Guru Designing Exclusives & Feeding Your Favorite Brands With Blanks
MADE is a clothing brand out of Los Angeles that’s been killing the game both on the surface and in the underground. We spoke with the founder Coo about his experience designing exclusive cut and sew pieces and how this led to his recent focus on supplying custom blanks for a growing list of some of the hottest underground brands today. In addition, Coo also spoke with us about his relationship with artists such as Trippie Redd and Lil House Phone, his experience sponsoring a soccer team, and his plans to make Made a staple in the underground community for years to come.
Where are you from?
Coo: I’m originally from Baltimore but I’ve been living in LA for 5 or 6 years now.
What made you move out to LA?
Coo: A family business that had to do with clothing stuff.
When did you start Made?
Coo: Two and a half years ago.
What’s the inspiration behind the name?
Coo: The name is actually family business oriented. My dad had the name back when I was a kid. He was using it with a jeans company that was a fast fashion type of thing. Kind of like a Forever 21 type vibe. When I went out to LA to help my brother with his clothing line, my dad knew that I wanted to do my own thing as well and said I should use the name Made.
What made you want to start a clothing brand?
Coo: I’m really an artist first and foremost whether it's visually or musically. Those were the best options I had to express myself. But I knew I really had the means to thrive through clothing. I love clothing. I remember as a kid I would take notes on what other kids were wearing to evolve from whatever my mom was giving me. I always had a keen eye for fashion.
Were you always into design and art or did it come about later in life?
Coo: I was always into drawing. Visual arts was really my forte. But in middle school I wanted to play the guitar since I started listening to Blink 182 and got really into music. When high school came that was my favorite passion. But then it switched back to visual arts after high school because I couldn't see music going as far as I wanted it to. I always move to where I think I can progress the most.
Does the inspiration for your designs come from somewhere specific?
Coo: I’m really here to come out with pieces that fashion forward people and regular people will both universally agree is fire. You can’t really pinpoint exactly what it is but you can definitely say that it looks great. I keep my stuff very simple yet progressive. My sense of fashion is very subtle too. I love people that dress subtly. You can tell someone knows exactly what they're doing when the outfit itself isn't flashy, but all the small details they chose to include put it together.
I’ve seen you do a lot of pieces over the years with the “M” logo on the front and “Made” coming down the sleeves. What was the original inspiration for that design?
Coo: It started because of Lil House Phone. He’s one of my really good friends and he was one of the first people I told that I was gonna make a clothing brand. It was before his first ever rap show in Los Angeles and he told me to make him something to wear. At the time I literally had one logo which was the Made logo with the shadow. I told him I'd see what I could come up with since his show was literally that same day. I decided to do three prints going up the sleeve and then three going down. For the chest I thought I’d cut up the logo and just use the M. The whole thing came out really well and a lot of people really liked it so I've kept it ever since. I was doing all this at home with a vinyl cutter and a heat press which is pretty much just a big ass iron. It’s a very barbaric way of making clothes and printing on clothes. I used reflective too because reflective vinyl looks way better than screen printed reflective. I was doing that reflective stuff before a lot of other people. I was also doing the stripe down the leg before that became a huge sensation. At the time it was the only thing I could get my hands on and due to the success it just made sense to continue.
You cut and sew all the hoodies and sweats you make, correct?
Coo: When I first started I was printing on Hanes and these other shitty sweats. I would garment dye them and sew a ton of units. My brother stepped in since he manufactures a bunch of clothes and said we should think about doing cut and sew. Fall 2017 was my first season I ever did cut and sew. That season was a huge success. The checkered stuff sold out in a day or two and the other stuff disappeared really fast too. I wish I still had some of it for myself but I don’t.
What about cut and sew appeals to you?
Coo: Cut and sew appeals to me because it’s the ultimate luxury to have as a clothing designer. Everybody wishes they could cut and sew since you have control over the fit, the quality of fabrics, and the colors. It just makes your clothing super unique to your brand since you can say nobody else has that fit.
I saw that Made sponsors a soccer team, is that true?
Coo: Yeah we have a crew from El Salvador that works at our warehouse and they have a soccer team. They got really far in their league actually and I got them rocking our jerseys. It’s just a cool honor that we were able to do it since they all love soccer.
Would you ever want to design jerseys for a sports team?
Coo: Yeah definitely. I've always kept my brand very universal and I gear all my stuff toward athletic wear. I’m not gonna make denim jackets or anything like that. Made is definitely gonna be associated with athletic wear in the future just like Nike or Champion.
You’ve designed some of the hardest sweats in the game. What was the inspiration behind the “Checkered Made Sweats” that you designed?
Coo: The reason I made them is because it was what I could get my hands on at the time. The T-shirt game was hella saturated with other brands and I couldn't really tap into that in a unique way. People were liking the hoodies we were making so I decided to upgrade to a full track suit. At the time I couldn’t even find good sweat pants that matched the quality of the hoodie. The first sweatpants didn't even have pockets but it was all I could use since they were the only white ones I found that I could garment dye. But people were loving it. It started with the urban community and now everyone's wearing Champion sweatpants and hoodies. It’s crazy, Champion kind of blew up around the same time. There’s no correlation with that and what we were doing but it shows how fast trends move.
I know you recently dropped some custom Made Pants with the made logo and a star on it. Was that designed with rhinestone?
Coo: Yeah it was.
What was the inspiration behind that piece?
Coo: I kind of made those on the fly. I started with the Made logo on the left hand side and thought that was gonna be it. But I looked at myself in the mirror and thought it needed a little more so I put the star on the right side. It could've been anything honestly. I barely advertise the Made printed stuff these days since it's a very exclusive thing. Recently we've been focused on something a little bit different. After I started making cut and sew stuff for myself, other friends I know hit me up and asked if I could make blank hoodies for their brand. So I decided to start a new sort of thing where I make Made hoodies and sweatpants that are blank. Now I'm providing blanks for tons of people like Half-Evil, Absent, Activity, Chinatown Market, Fuct, and Freebandz which is Future’s brand. I met Future like a month ago. The roster is huge right now and it’s only getting bigger so I’ve put a lot of my focus towards that.
Do you have a warehouse you're running it out of?
Coo: We have a huge warehouse in Vernon right next to The Hundreds.
Are there any other different types of garments or accessories you want to experiment with?
Coo: The next thing we're gonna make is T-shirts and then jersey shorts. Then maybe we’ll do a crewneck. This is definitely a marathon of a game and we’re gonna master each product we make. We’re not just gonna jump into something like a backpack just because we want to make it. Each piece we make is gonna be perfect. But I definitely respect the other artists that are willing to experiment with different stuff.
I’ve seen Trippie Redd rocking Made on multiple occasions. How did that relationship begin?
Coo: It started when I had a pop-up at The Hundreds store on Rosewood and Fairfax. At the time Trippie probably had 20k followers and was living at my homie Chris King’s crib. They pulled up to my pop-up and bought a bunch of stuff. That was the first time I met him. After that I listened to his music and was immediately a huge fan. I reached out and made a bunch of dope custom stuff for them. His camp fell in love with it and we’ve been kicking it ever since. I wouldn't say I’m a close friend of his but we definitely rock with each other.
How do your placements with music artists and other celebrity type figures generally come about?
Coo: It’s all been organic. I’ve never pushed anything on anybody. Even all my sales are organic. I never paid for a sponsor. Because I move in such an underground way with my blanks I've never really had a pressure to sell my stuff either. Outreach has all been through word of mouth. Anything you see with Famous Dex or anyone else has all been through friends. I have a lot of friends at Interscope, Capitol Records, and No Jumper. I’ve known No Jumper since the beginning too. We tried to do Agenda for my first trade show with like 10 T-shirts that had Made on them. They set our booth right next to Babylon skate and Adam came by and talked about his podcast. That was the first time Demonte (Lil House Phone) ever met Adam22. I’ve been very fortunate to be around the people I’m around but it was never for clout.
Are there any other music artists you want to see wearing Made?
Coo: I would love to see Thugger wearing Made. I wanna work with more athletes in extreme sports and the snowboard world since sweatpants and hoodies are a winter thing. I also think basketball players would be cool. I really want to get a college basketball team wearing Made eventually.
Are you dropping a Spring/Summer Made collection?
Coo: Not this season but I have a lot of collabs lined up where we're gonna drop some T-shirts. I’ve been doing the blanks right now but come August you're gonna see some really dope stuff.
Are there other brands or designers that you want to collaborate with in the future?
Coo: No not really, I’m good.
What else should we expect to see from Made here in the near future?
Coo: I don’t know when the news is gonna come out that I'm providing all these blanks for people but expect to hear a lot more brands are using Made blanks. Just think of us as an "underground Champion" that all the industry people know. That’s what I am to a lot of these people. They get to use my blanks knowing that nobody else has that cut except for these underground brands. That’s where I wanna be right now.
Why should someone rock with the Made blanks?
Coo: The quality is crazy. The fit is also really awesome. I do my stuff tastefully you know, it’s a youthful fit. The problem with all these other blank companies is that they don't care. They make it for anyone from moms and dads to church groups and pizza parlors. All their fits are the same cut where instead I gear my stuff to my customer base. The thing about clothing now is that it's really unfair for all these up and coming brands because they want to sell their stuff for $100 but don’t have a good canvas to put it on. I came in and pretty much created the canvas.
What do you want Made to be at the end of the day?
Coo: I want Made to be a staple in the community. Something that local brands, local artists, and neighborhood kids can call their own. You have a lot of people feeling like there's a lot of "industry plants" that swoop in and take money where they can from these up and coming artists that are trying to do something. I’m one of the artists. Supporting me is like supporting yourself instead of supporting Gildan. But other than that you’ll also continue to see the Made printed exclusives. That’s not going anywhere. You’re gonna see some really dope stuff here soon I just don’t wanna speak on it because it’s kinda secret.
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