From Meeting Cole Bennett To Starting A Brand
is a clothing brand based out of Florida that's been making noise in the underground streetwear scene. We spoke with the founder Nikos about his experience going to ComplexCon Chicago this past July and getting inspiration to start Phantom after meeting Cole Bennett to now having the likes of YNW BSlime, Lyrical Lemonade, and many others supporting his brand. In addition, we also spoke about his past two releases, his advice for other young people looking to start a brand, and his plans to continue growing and have his brand become a staple for artists and members of the music industry.
Where are you from?
Nikos: I’m from Chicago but in recent years I’ve been living in Florida.
How old are you?
When did you start Phantom?
Nikos: July 27, 2019.
How did you come up with the name?
Nikos: I spent months waiting for a name to come to mind but the following days after meeting everyone I looked up to at ComplexCon and being extremely inspired I knew that it was time to get things started. So over the next couple days after Complex Con I just sat there thinking and brainstorming ideas. I wanted something unique, something that I personally liked, and something I could grow on. The moment I got the word Phantom, then and there I knew that was the one.
What made you want to start a clothing brand at such a young age?
Nikos: I was extremely inspired by Worldwide Youth because he was young too and it really gave me the perspective that you didn’t need to be a set age to do something like this. I also knew I could find something better to do with my time than Xbox.
Was fashion always big for you growing up?
Nikos: Yes and no. I wasn’t necessarily into “fashion” but still to this day I’m extremely picky with what I wear and more recently fell in love with the streetwear scene.
Before your first drop you were at ComplexCon in Chicago this summer, correct?
Nikos: Yes, It was definitely a life changing experience. I met and had a conversation with my idol Cole Bennett. It was unreal because he's been my idol for nearly 2 years and I was a huge fan. While there I saw and met a lot of inspiring people. At the time I had been a fan of streetwear for quite a bit so I was very familiar with a lot of brands. I saw Sam from Half Evil and Parker from Absent so I had to say something. Sam took me to his booth and we talked for a bit. I met GloUpJake who I had been talking to and playing Xbox with for months, and even FaZe Adapt. There were a lot of conversations that took place and it was very inspiring being in that atmosphere. Quick shoutout to Will from Hard Jewelry for the free chain and pendant as well.
How did you get out there and what made you want to go?
Nikos: I was in Illinois visiting my mom, so it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. I knew a lot of people I look up to were in attendance so I couldn't miss it.
How did you end up meeting Cole Bennett and taking pictures with the team at the Lyrical Lemonade office?
Nikos: I had texted Cole Bennett after the event that it was crazy meeting him and I thanked him for everything and his reply literally made me jump out of bed, “Let’s grab lunch soon or something”. It was a crazy moment until I realized that I was leaving back to Florida the next morning. I ended up moving my flight back a week and started setting up plans, but Cole became very busy and almost went to LA and I started losing hope that we’d meet before I left. Before I left GloUpJake & CP hit me up and we decided to grab lunch since Cole was busy. Then the idea came up to chill and eat dinner at the HQ so we did, it was crazy. For the record, the Lyrical Lemonade team is easily the most genuine group of people I’ve ever met. Shoutout to Jake for making it happen.
What was that experience like?
Nikos: It was the most inspiring thing ever. A few times while Cole was giving me a tour of the place I had to make sure it was real. We played basketball on the mini hoops and had some pizza but I was too nervous to really eat. Cole and I talked for a while and that’s when I showed him Phantom, it was the best feeling in the world that he liked it. The logo had just been made the night before.
What was your favorite part of that trip?
Nikos: Sitting around with Lyrical Lemonade eating pizza and just talking to them.
Talk about your first official Phantom release. How did you make it happen?
Nikos: Cole gave me information for a T-Shirt place that he recommended so the day after I emailed them. I had my design made already so I ordered them and started building the hype. Shoutout to Shark Puppet for getting it for me and Antii for making it. Also shoutout to Diego Vital for the promo video.
What went well for you on that first drop and what was difficult?
Nikos: It sold like crazy and I didn’t really expect that. It was difficult because I know all the work that needs to be done on the road ahead.
How did YNW BSlime end up in that tee?
Nikos: BSlime and I became friends before he had any music out, I found his gamertag in his live and we just started talking. He’s a very genuine kid and super supportive, he hooked me up with a free signed shirt from Cole at ComplexCon as well. As soon as I got the shirts made I knew I had to get him some.
I know you’ve also been building relationships with a number of other music artists as well. How do you go about doing that?
Nikos: A lot of it is BSlime. When we were talking about who I should send my clothing to he added Yung Bans to the call who said he liked it. Sad Frosty and I used to play fortnite often, and I met Jasiah when he was barely known in December 2018 at a Lyrical Lemonade event. He came from backstage to find and meet me because he couldn’t see me, and he actually tried bringing me backstage but security said I couldn’t.
Are there any other artists you want rocking Phantom in the future?
Nikos: If I could choose three people they would have to be Ski Mask The Slump God, Polo G, and Juice Wrld. Eventually I do want my clothing to be something that a lot of artists wear.
What was the inspiration behind the tee on Phantom drop 2?
Nikos: There wasn’t much inspiration except for the fact that I wanted a tee with a full covered front like Worldwide Youth’s 1 year shirt.
Are there any other garments or accessories you want to experiment with in the future?
Nikos: Nothing in particular, if anything a deck would be cool. I want to do something new though, maybe an alarm clock or a lamp. Something exotic that you wouldn’t typically expect. Quick sneak peak, I am working with someone on chains and shoes too.
Are there any other designers or brands you want to work with?
Nikos: Lyrical Lemonade is the ultimate dream. Worldwide Youth, Half Evil, and maybe Ransom as well.
Who inspires you?
Nikos: My Dad, Cole Bennett, Dylan Grails, Sam Half Evil, GloUpJake, and more.
You’ve already found a lot of success with your brand at such a young age. What advice would you give to other kids looking to start their own brand?
Nikos: I’m not being corny when I say anything is possible. Tell yourself you can and go do it, don’t let anyone take you away from your dream. There isn’t a bad time to start, stay dedicated, and you can find a lot on Google.
What should we expect to see next from Phantom?
Nikos: A lot. I'm trying to do shoes and chains right now.
What do you want Phantom to become and what do you want to be known for?
Nikos: I want Phantom to be a brand that people in the music industry like and would want to represent. I’d have to say I'd want to be known as the brand with fire gear that everyone's favorite artists and music industry people wear.
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