From early on in the game, Chris, creator of Stolen Item, made a conscious decision to make accessories rather than clothing.
He didn’t wanted to get lost in the sea of streetwear, but find his own path. That path was the “Stolen Item” tag. You can put it on any outfit, backpacks, shoes, a ponytail. It always surprises him to see how people use it. Instagram is the perfect platform for finding people with the tag and sharing their creativity with his growing audience.
Well, how about the name? Stolen Item. Chris wanted the name to have a sense of duality to it. While it’s popular among creators to choose a brand name that’s meaningful to them, when people see it on the streets it doesn’t really leave an impression because people don’t know what it means. Stolen Item is meaningful with no explanation.
It started last summer. Chris is an artist - constantly making things. At the time he was making sculptures out of things he’d stolen from around New York City: a piece of fence, a cone, etc. Needless to say, he was really excited about these sculptures. Then he showed his friends.
Soon he began handing them out to his friends. They started putting them on their shoes, and he hadn’t even thought about that. He didn’t really have a vision in terms of what he wanted them to be. Instead he let people create the vision for themselves. People began putting them on backpacks, and he hadn’t even thought of that either. The tag was meant to be the “cherry on top” of his sculptures, but they ended up being the cherry on top of people’s wardrobes.
Once Chris realized that his tags could really take off, he began thinking of ways to promote it. What he’d do is stand on the street corner and pass his tags out to kids walking by. Kids leaving Supreme, kids leaving Palace would find Chris with a tag in his hand for them. Some kids loved it. Some would throw it away.
As Stolen Item continues to grow, Chris doesn’t plan on leaving the streets where he gets to meet people face to face - people who are excited about his brand and his product. He plans to stay in the accessory game, finding cool people to collaborate with - people who will elevate his brand as he elevates theirs.
Stolen Item's first collaboration is with Smoke DZA. At the same time that Chris was handing out his tags on the streets of NYC, he was also sending his tags to influencers. One such influencer was a photographer in the city - a photographer who shot for Smoke DZA. During a photoshoot with the artist, he suggested he collaborate with Stolen Item for his up and coming album “Not For Sale,” thus was created the “Not For Sale” tag by Stolen Item.
Chris has been looking a lot lately at what Virgil Abloh’s been up to with Off-White. He says it’s not about his clothes - it’s about the culture that he’s created around his products. Shows, free events, and other avenues for people to have a good time. His clothes represent a good time. Chris says you’ve to to figure out what you want to say, what your tone will be, and what you want people to feel when they put your clothes on before you even start making anything.
His final words are this: “believe in yourself.” It’s important to be weird and just come out with something that’ll turn heads. Streetwear came from a place of being an outlier, but now people are just copying the top five brands. You've got to find what your accessories, your clothing, and your brand will say when you're not around.
Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20