Brothers Cody and Joey Sudmeier used their experiences as shoppers to create All The Above Clothing. Since they believe that fashion is the truest form of expression, each piece in their ATA line is inspired by a quote, lyric or phrase that's printed inside the completed design. To find out more about their creative philosophy and business, we asked the brothers a few questions about ATA; read on for their joint answers.
Westword: What is your take on the state of fashion in Denver?
Sudmeier brothers: From activities to arts to outdoors, Denver is one of a kind. This rings true with fashion as well. Colorado has been home to clothing lines from yoga apparel to high-end accessories to Crocs shoes. Additionally, Denver is also one of the best cities in the world for supporting entrepreneurship. Denver isn't usually thought of as one of the traditional hubs of the fashion industry. The great thing is that Denver isn't trying to be a smaller version of the NYC fashion scene. Denver is doing fashion in its own way. All The Above fits into that mindset: Our aim is to create a one-of-a-kind product.
When did you first discover you had an interest in fashion?
Inside our company, we joke around that at some point everybody thinks they want to either start a bar or a clothing line. Both dreams have a very high failure rate -- north of 90 percent. Like most people, we always had an interest in fashion, but we never really thought that we would start a business.
How did you get into the business of fashion?
As customers, we were searching for a product that we couldn't find. We wanted a product that had three elements: 1) high-quality material and manufacturing, 2) great fashion and 3) a brand that had meaning and inspiration behind it. We were able to find products that were high quality and fashionable. However, most of the fashion was pretty meaningless. We believe that fashion is one of the purest opportunities for people to express themselves. It is disappointing that so few brands stand for anything. ATA aims to inspire through our meaning-based conceptual designs.
Tell us about ATA Clothing: What was your inspiration for starting the business and how did you decide on the name ATA?
All The Above Clothing creates upscale casual clothing for men and women. Each design is inspired by a quote/lyric/phrase, which is then turned into an abstract and cryptic design. The quote and meaning of the design is then printed on the inside of the piece of clothing so you always know what inspired it.
We started with a simple goal: to produce high-quality clothing inspired by positive influences. Our slogan is "be inspired," and we want to provide people with a variety of high quality, fashionable and meaningful designs. It is a style which encourages you to find your inspiration. The name "All The Above" actually has different meanings to different people in our company. It was intentionally left up for interpretation. The common meaning is that every product ("All") provides some form of positive inspiration ("The Above") to our customers.
Who is on the ATA team?
The company is led by brothers Cody Sudmeier (founder and CEO) and Joey Sudmeier (COO). We also have a great photographer and branding expert in John S. Miller. We have several talented artists and designers that create our products. Recently, ATA was picked up by a major PR and Distribution partner out of Los Angeles; this partner is in charge of our distribution, social media presence and PR efforts. Keep reading for more on All The Above Clothing. A part of your business concept encourages customer input for designs. Why is that important?
Generally in business, companies guess at what customers might like. Ultimately, customers determine the success of a product. We prefer to involve our customers on the front end of product development by listening to what they want. Since all of our designs are based on an inspirational quote, our customers are much more connected with our clothing than other brands. To further that connection, we get all of our inspirational quotes/lyrics from our Facebook fans. If we create a design based on one of our fan's submissions, then we will give them a gift card and we print their name on the inside of the clothing next to the inspirational quote. Fans can submit their quotes during our Concept Competitions on Facebook.
What words of wisdom do you have for those trying to make it in the business?
Fashion is a very difficult industry to have success. Most industry experts estimate that a new brand requires $1 million to $1.5 million to really get off the ground.
First, make sure this is a business that you want to get into -- there are other industries that are easier to win. Second, create a product that is unique and has a good story to tell customers; do not mimic other brands as best case, you will come in second place to those brands. Third, start small: See if the market likes your concept prior to going all-in with the investment; commit to the proof-of-concept stage. Fourth, figure out your distribution strategy: We recommend outsourcing your sales effort to a showroom or similar distribution partner. Fifth, then go big. Once you have a proof of concept and a distribution partner, don't be afraid to make the investments that will allow your brand to grow fast.
What famous person would you like to see wear one of your inspirational designs?
We would prefer to be associated with famous people who are doing more than just movies/music/sports. We like stars who inspire others and aim to create a better world. We dig Emma Watson, Bono, Will Smith, Macklemore, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, David Beckham, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Damon and Russell Wilson (except when he plays the Broncos).
Why should fashion-savvy shoppers put ATA clothing on their "must shop" list?
Fashion is about individuality and art. We are the one clothing line that takes inspirational quotes and turns them into abstract and cryptic designs. We then provide the quote as well as an explanation of how it is cryptically reflected in the design on the inside of the piece of clothing so that you always know what your clothing says about you.
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