We first became familiar with Los Angeles-based streetwear brand, Acropolis Apparel, earlier this year … but it’s been in operation for just over three years. In just a short period, and a lot of hard work, founder/owner Michael Pino has built a brand with a unique look and message behind it.
The name itself is “a metaphor for greatness,” as described by Pino. But by “greatness”, he doesn’t mean bling and Bentleys, he means by promoting the glory of human achievement, evolution, and progress, among others things — and it comes across in the designs from each season.
Being a history major in college also influences his choice of styles/designs. For example, in Acropolis’ latest collection, there’s a tee honoring Italian physicist/philosopher Galileo; while another, dubbed “Heads Of State,” dons a sculpture head split into three, including Ancient Roman leaders Nero, Marc Antony, and Julius Ceasar. So, in short, each piece has a deep meaning and message behind it … and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
On the heels of the release of Acropolis’ Fall 2011 “Death Before Dishonor” Collection, we spoke to Pino to get some insight into the man behind the brand; his initial ideas when bringing his company to fruition; and things he’s got coming down the pipeline to keep his brand competing in a sea of carbon-copied brands around him.
BallerStatus.com: What were you doing before launching Acropolis?
Michael Pino: Prior to launching Acropolis, I was living in Denver after graduating from CU Boulder and was working at a start-up medical device company. I love Colorado, but wanted to get back home to Southern California. So in 2007, I moved back out and later that year started up the brand.
BallerStatus.com: When did you begin thinking about launching your own clothing brand?
Michael Pino: I’ve always been into style — fresh tees, jackets, shoes, hats … you name it. I really gravitated to streetwear because it encompassed many of my interests. I drew inspiration from smaller, independent brands like 8103, Akomplice, Staple, and Triumvir, as well as larger, more established brands like Hurley, LRG, Nike and Volcom.
I gave a great deal of thought to creating a brand, developed the concept, the name, sought out advice, went through the legal process, and really learned the process as I went. Being a history major, I never had any formal schooling or training in the clothing industry. My aim was to create something unique and hot that I could be proud of; something people would feel and respect. So, I dove in head first and got after it.
BallerStatus.com: Tell us about its name? Where did that come from?
Michael Pino: I chose the name Acropolis as a metaphor for greatness — as the Acropolis of Ancient Athens is home to the heart of all the western society is built on. The concept behind Acropolis Apparel is Ancient Remains … Modern Beginnings. Meaning, we take concepts, images, relics — or whatever the case may be — from the past and breathe new life into them. We promote the glory of human achievement, evolution, ingenuity, progress, and history, which spans throughout time and across the globe.
BallerStatus.com: With so much competition in the fashion world, what was your vision with Acropolis and the inspiration/style behind it?
Michael Pino: It is extremely competitive and for that exact reason, I wanted to create something that would stand the test of time. Brands come and go, longevity in this industry is hard to come by and to do so, you need a solid foundation.
I feel that the thought behind Acropolis enables us to hold our ground. We draw inspiration from all walks of life, from the past to the present. History is the story of how we’ve arrived at where we’re at and it’s something that everyone can really relate to. Then, all I had to do was surround myself with the right people. Sounds easy reading it, but trust me, it’s been an uphill battle since the beginning.
BallerStatus.com: So far, according to your website, you began dropping collections, instead of how some other brands just starting off begin with a few tees. You seemed to have started off more legit. Was that the plan?
Michael Pino: Yes. From day one, it was my intention was to create and evolve into a complete collection. I never thought to release a shirt here and there sporadically. My vision was to develop a quality brand of a thoughtful nature that could remain relevant in the genre, slowly expand over time to include an array of garments and be a legitimate clothing company that could stack up next to anyone.
BallerStatus.com: What has been the response thus far?
Michael Pino: Overall it’s been great. At first, things were slow to gain traction as I was new to everything and operating virtually by myself. Over time, the brand has seen tremendous growth, improved product quality, evolved design, and has gained respect in the industry. 2011 has been our best year to date and things are just getting started. We have a lot in store for the near future, as we all as grand scale plans for the long term.
BallerStatus.com: How difficult is it to compete in fashion these days? And, what have been some of the obstacles for you, personally, thus far?
Michael Pino: One day you’re hot, the next you’re ghost. How many brands have you seen this with? Countless. Fashion is cut-throat, as many businesses are. To stay relevant, you need quality clothing created with substance, a solid message, to be adaptable and innovative, you need to expand your horizons, be willing to take risks, and a loyal following doesn’t hurt either.
Some personal obstacles I’ve faced have been funding obviously; gaining entry into established doors that are often not willing to take a chance on an upstart brand; surrounding myself with the right people who understand the true concept and vision of Acropolis; getting the right exposure; retailers not paying and bouncing; things like that.
BallerStatus.com: What’s in the future for Acropolis?
Michael Pino: Continued growth. Headwear, cut-n-sew, outerwear, accessories, and expanding the collection further while branching out into new markets and ventures. Collaborations with other brands, artists and record companies. Opening new doors as well as a few things on the hush hush.
For more info on Acropolis Apparel, visit their website, AcropolisApparel.com.