CITY: Ann Arbor, MI
FOUNDED BY: Mike Moeller, Indra Lachhman, and Mick Boogie
BRANDS CARRIED: 10.Deep, Alife, Altamont, Crooks & Castles, Dope Couture, DTA, Hellz Bellz, HUF, Kidrobot, Married to the MOB, Meister Watches, Mishka, Motivation, New Era, Orisue, Play Cloths, Rocksmith Tokyo, Rogue Status, Stüssy, Sugarcraft, The Hundreds, Undefeated, Undrcrwn
WHY WE CO-SIGN: Motivation is a specialty boutique with a stalwart business formula. Located inside the campus of the University of Michigan, its default customer base consists of information-savvy college kids who have their hands locked on the constantly changing pulse of what's hot. The result is a huge demand for the best and latest in premium goods (which the shop mindfully keeps in stock). Furthermore, one of the founders of MTVTN, DJ Mick Boogie, is a heavyweight in the "industry" with deep connects to some of the most relevant artists of today (like Wale, the Clipse, Mike Posner), who co-sign the spot as in-store guests and patrons.
What makes Motivation one of the most recognizable shops in the Midwest, however, is more than just a golden rolodex and collegiate client base. Far from being complacent the brains behind the retailer stay on a constant grind to ensure that the brand is more than just a brick-and-mortar but a force in the national and global streetwear scene. Not only do they stock 300-plus styles of New Eras at any given time (which immediately sets them apart from any other spots in the region), last year they launched a full online store to reach customers living well outside of the 734 area code. For that, Motivation gets our respect.
Keep reading for an interview with Mike Moeller as well as pics of the store...
Complex: What are some of the most popular items from the store?
Mike: Motivation Ornate M New Era Fitted Hats, $40; Play Cloths Running Man T-Shirts, $36; New Era University of Michigan Custom Vintage Fitted Hats, $34; Crooks & Castles Epilux Leather Buckle Belt, $60
What's the attitude and aesthetic that you're striving for at Motivation?
Mike: Big-city feel; small-city charm. We're located on the campus of one of the nation's biggest and best public universities, so our clientele is from all over the world. We wanted the space to give the impression that it belongs in NYC, LA, or Hong Kong but without the infamous pretentious attitude that is associated with a lot of boutiques in those cities. We have a friendly, laid-back Midwest attitude when it comes to customer service and that coupled with our huge selection keeps our customers coming back.
Describe your favorite piece in stock right now.
Mike: Our Motivation 'Ornate M' New Eras that we just released. We recently introduced a store logo and soon after released our first New Eras that feature the logo. Even though we were confident in the design of the logo, you always wonder how the public will react. We did a limited run of 90 hats and sold out of all on the first day, so they definitely top my list.
Who are your style icons?
Mike: You know, I really don't have anyone specific but I have to give respect to Kanye West, Pharrell, and even Jay-Z for their influence on streetwear and fashion today.
What was the first designer item you bought or wore?
Mike: Well my parents kept me dressed in Polo before I was old enough to pick out my own clothes, so I guess Ralph Lauren. If you're talking streetwear, I got into Crooks & Castles in '04 or '05. The concept of the line drew me in back then and it's great to see their success today.
Any collaborations we should anticipate?
Mike: We are really working on building up our Motivation New Era program right now which includes more Motivation fitteds and snapbacks designs. We are also working on a bunch of other things with various other boutiques and brands that I can't speak on yet but you will see them soon enough.
What are your retail plans for the future?
Mike: We just opened up our online division about six months ago and it's far exceeded our expectations so we're really focusing on expansion. Aside from that, we'd love to open a second retail location on another college campus sooner rather than later.
1203 South University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104