In the collection, there’s some athletic inspiration with sweats and jogger pants. Where did you get that influence from?
Neima: I grew up playing sports. I played a lot of high school sports, and I played football at San Jose State for a year before I got injured. Sports have been a big part of my life, so I’ve really been putting it in Cena’s ear to start doing some sports outerwear. We have a lot of support from different NBA, NFL, and soccer players around the world. We wanted to give them something that they can relate to as well. Not necessarily the celebrities, but the athletic consumer. I think it has been received really well. Again, it’s just about us expanding the lifestyle and making it bigger than just t-shirts and hats.
How does a young streetwear brand become a more established, complete brand?
Neima: I think it’s expanding your collection, evolving your collection every season. It’s very difficult and expensive. There are a lot of barriers that young brands face and we faced when it came to showing and proving yourself—especially when you have a handful at the top, and they have the formula figured out. It’s very difficult to figure out the entire formula. It’s bigger than just designing, it’s about manufacturing the right way and the factories and marketing. There are a lot of different challenges, but we wanted to prove we could make more technical pieces. We really wanted to be on the same level as a lot of these higher fashion brands. That’s what we shoot for. We’re trying to separate ourselves from streetwear. If you look at our stores, if you go to Fairfax or Haight Street and walk into a lot of the other streetwear stores, they’re more skate-based and they have their own approach. But for us, if you walk into our store, you get more of a high-end feel and experience. We took the opportunity with our flagship store to showcase our Holiday collection, and we’re definitely a higher-tier brand.
Is that where you get the inspiration for the logo flips and the fashion parodies?
Neima: That’s just streetwear culture. There are a lot of parodies and spoofs that have made streetwear cool and what it is. A pretty small percentage of our stuff is spoofs or parodies. You’ll see a Chanel one in our Holiday collection. We did a really popular one with the Miami Dolphins’ logo last year. It was cool because Frank Gore from the San Francisco 49ers wore the hoodie after a game, and it got picked up all over. On the flipside, the NFL sent us a cease-and-desist order. So there’s a balance—you don’t want to piss off these bigger companies and get yourself in trouble. At the same time, you want to contribute to the streetwear culture and that’s part of it.
What was your first reaction to that situation thinking that you finally hit it big?
Neima: I was so juiced, I was so excited. The NFL knows who we are. I was at the Niners game, and I was leaving and Frank Gore wore the sweatshirt at the press conference after the game. Then people started tagging me on Instagram and Twitter, and I was like, “Damn, people don’t like me this much. Why’s my phone blowing up?” Then I looked at the picture, and I was excited not only that Frank supported us, but that the NFL sent us a cease-and-desist. It was a milestone for us. I almost framed the letter from the NFL’s council. I thought we really made some noise, and then my lawyer called me after and said, “This isn’t good,” and then reality hit.