Sports fans do the craziest stuff to support their favorite team or club. Wives and girlfriends are being kicked out of the crib so that the men of the house can watch a sports game without being bothered, while some get a Dodgers tattoo or decorate their entire house with Lakers wallpaper or Yankees collectibles. Pennant Race Clothing found a more creative way to express their love for sports; by creating gear with sports themes. Their new collection, which was inspired by the Lakers and Yankees among others, has not gone unnoted at the Karmaloop office, who added the entire collection to the Karmaloop store.
BallerStatus.com sat down with one of the founders, Ryan Wantland, to get the latest on Pennant Race, their obsession with sports and what they have in store for the upcoming season.
BallerStatus.com: Give us a brief history of Pennant Race and how it was created.
Ryan Wantland: Pennant Race was started in late 2007. My partner and I both have fairly diverse backgrounds in clothing and design and we had always wanted to start a sports inspired brand as our own vehicle to voice our views on the sports world, past and present. We saw a void in the marketplace for really dope sports-themed clothing. With the exception of a couple brands, nobody was doing it like we wanted to see it done. So one day we just decided to take the plunge and here we are!
BallerStatus.com: Who makes up the Pennant Race family?
Ryan Wantland: Right now there are two of us, myself and my partner Aaron. We have a countless number of people who’ve helped us along the way but we’re the main two who do the day-to-day grinding.
BallerStatus.com: You’re a relatively new brand. What was the hardest thing you had to overcome as a new brand trying to find its place in the fashion industry?
Ryan Wantland: The most difficult thing is getting people to take you seriously. Everyone has a clothing brand these days so it has made the consumers and the store owners of the world very critical of new brands, and rightfully so. We came into this with a lot of concepts that we wanted to voice. Being that our stuff is so concept driven, we knew that not everyone was going to appreciate what we were saying and that we’d really need to find our niche. It has taken us a while but we have been very lucky to have some amazing stores take a shot on our brand. We now sit on a shelf next to a lot of brands that we look up to, so that’s been pretty surreal for us. In addition, we have a very dedicated group of customers who really appreciate the brand and they’ve been instrumental in the support and growth of Pennant Race.
BallerStatus.com: You guys are based in Beaverton, Oregon. Is it an obstacle not to be located in or near a city with a strong fashion scene like New York or Los Angeles?
Ryan Wantland: Let’s remember that one of the largest footwear and apparel brands in the world is right down the street. (laughs) In all honesty, we would probably have some more resources at our disposal if we lived in one of the aforementioned cities, but we don’t look at it that way. We love doing this so much that you could put us just about anywhere in the world and we’d still be giving it 110% like we are right now.
BallerStatus.com: Most of your designs are influenced by either sports or hip-hop music. Tell me more about your affinity with sports and music and how it influences your work.
Ryan Wantland: We are a sports brand, number one, and that’s what we want to be known as. Growing up in Portland, sports were everything to us. It was what you did every day after school. All of my best memories from growing up were based around playing sports, watching sports on TV or talking about sports. This brand is how we re-live our childhood and look back on so many memorable moments in sports culture.
BallerStatus.com: What does your top 3 favorite sports moments of all time look like?
Ryan Wantland: Wow, that’s tough. I have so many but one that comes to mind would be watching the Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa home run chase in 1998. The whole steroid situation has downplayed that a bit but while it was going on it was a lot of fun to watch. Like I said, I have so many so I’ll give you two that mean a lot to me personally that maybe aren’t as celebrated. I’m a huge Oregon State Beavers fan so watching their baseball team win back-to-back College World Series titles a few years back was awesome. Most recently was watching the Oregon State football team beat USC last year when USC was ranked #1 in the nation. That was crazy; I couldn’t sleep for 2 days after that game.
BallerStatus.com: Which design is Pennant Race’s best-seller? Explain the story behind the design and how it came about.
Ryan Wantland: Our recent best seller is our Staples Courtside Tee. The Courtside series is an idea we came up with that our customers have really bought into. Us being huge sports fans, we wanted to come up with some pieces that pay homage to the sports fan themselves. Sports tees are always about giving praise to the team or the athlete, we felt like it was time that we give the fans their props, as they are what really make sports so great. The Staples one is our homage to Lakers fans all over the world.
BallerStatus.com: Web Gems are shirts that are sold exclusively in your online store. How has the response been so far?
Ryan Wantland: The Web Gems have done real well! Although all of our pieces are limited, the Web Gems are extremely limited and you can only get them off of our web store. One of our main focuses of this upcoming year is to really expand our Web Gems program. Look for much more to come on that.
BallerStatus.com: Last year Nas was rocking one of your shirts on stage. Do you think it is important to have artists wearing your clothes and promoting your brand?
Ryan Wantland: I think that really depends on who you’re trying to reach. To be honest, for us I don’t think it’s that important. I think our customers appreciate our stuff for what it brings to the table graphically, and more importantly conceptually. I don’t think Pennant Race fans are really concerned with who else wears the brand but more with what each piece means to them personally. That being said, it was an absolute honour for us to have someone like Nas actually purchase and then rock our gear. He is an artist we have loved since we were little, so the whole thing was definitely a trip.
BallerStatus.com: What are you looking forward to for Fall/Winter 2009? Are you working with a specific theme and certain colours or styles?
Ryan Wantland: The one thing I can say is that you will see a big expansion to both our headwear and fleece programs. The one comment that we constantly hear from our customers is that they love our hats and sweatshirts but they don’t feel that we make enough of them. We are definitely going to address that this Fall and Winter with the first drop coming later this month.
BallerStatus.com: What’s next for Pennant Race Clothing?
Ryan Wantland: We just want to keep growing at our own pace and giving our customers what they want from us, just keep doing what we do. As long as we don’t lose sight of who we are and why we started this project, I think we’ll continue to progress and get better.
For more info on Pennant Race Clothing, go to PennantRaceGear.com.