Fashion designer Chilly-O and his Chilly-O clothing line
have dared to be different, to not conform and to move into the unoccupied
lanes of fashion. Starting on a dream 14 years ago, Chilly-O has successfully
managed to mix and match his artistic visions with activism, music, frustration
and even extreme sports.
Chilly-Os philosophy that a simple tee shirt is a way to
let the world in on your thoughts without speaking a word, the brand is
becoming a mainstay in the apparel business.
From the trunk of the car to specialty boutiques in
Atlanta, the label is gaining recognition up and down the east coast and across
to the west.
Though you may know the clothing line based off just the
name, Chilly-O is a nomad, traveling from state to state and across countries
to politically campaign his clothes into your closet.
AllHipHop.com: Youve had much success with the
underground urban market [through designer nominations, celebrity endorsements,
etc]. Do you hope to have as much success internationally?
Chilly-O: Absolutely. The international market is looking
real good in terms of their commerce. Especially places like the UK and Tokyo.
Were looking at spreading over to South Africa, France and Australia.
AllHipHop.com: Describe your clothing lines motto The
clothing line that is hard to get, but easy when you know how?
Chilly-O: We came up with something clever describing the
integrity of our brand. Basically being in the right place at the right time
and having the opportunity to buy or catch our product.
AllHipHop.com: You have the support from Atlanta
celebrities and boutiques. Do you find the same support in other major markets?
Chilly-O: Thats a good question, because weve been down
to other markets but we really havent taken a proactive approach. Were just
starting to do that now. Im actually moving to New York for two months this
weekend. And thats strictly to expand the brand and bring awareness to it.
Actually, were getting a lot of support from outside
Atlanta. I dont know if thats because people are familiar with the label or
they strictly like it for the visual. But the Northeast is really, really
supporting the brand. But I dont think they really understand what Chilly-O is
about, thats why Im going up there briefly to bring awareness to the brand.
AllHipHop.com: Your designs are described as bold,
interactive and cross-generational. How do you come up with inspirations for
Chilly-O: Well, we basically watch people interact and
listen to what they have to say. We have a lot of bold statements on our shirts
and a lot of dialogue. We started this label four or five years ago and I
didnt necessarily see this trend when we first started. I think the way the
economy is and all the frustration around, people feel the need to express
If you put what you feel on a shirt you have the
opportunity to let other people read what you feel. We basically took that and
turned it into fashion. We see a lot of the other labels doin they thing now,
so we gotta move on to something new but our original concept was to take it
back to the people.
AllHipHop.com: Is there a market of people you favor more
[ie: skateboarders, backpackers, hustlers, celebrities]?
Chilly-O: Thats another good question, because when
youre selling something you gotta know who youre selling to. Originally, it
was to who we had more sensibility to. We wanted to sell to the leaders of the
community so that was the get money dudes or the artists or producers or
rappers. Thats who we initially reached out to. We were getting premium
dollars for our clothing because of the rarity of it.
AllHipHop.com: How did you market yourself to be a
standout from the other upcoming clothing lines?
Chilly-O: Most importantly we rely on the people. If the
people understand us and believe in the brand then people are going to talk
about us. So thats how we separate ourselves. Were definitely a people brand.
Were just happy people understand how big our movement is.
AllHipHop.com: What type of successes do you see for your
brand in the next five years?
Chilly-O: Were already a lifestyle brand, but we want to
demonstrate that thru other avenues. So in the next five years we want to get
into the corporate industry and the entertainment industry as far as Hip Hop.
Well probably move into some non-profit entities too so we can make some big
AllHipHop.com: In one year you went from selling clothes
out the trunk of your car to retailing at specialty boutiques. To what do you
owe your successes?
Chilly-O: For the most part I did what a lot of people
dont like to do, and thats shaking hands and kissing babies. Im being
facetious saying that, but its almost like a politician who is campaigning. A
lot of clothing lines let other people do their marketing through magazine ads and
flyers, but we tried to build a foundation by going out and meeting the people.
AllHipHop.com: Do you plan to produce other brands
Chilly-O: Were looking at an accessories line and a denim
line, but right now were pushing the tee shirts to get our brand out there. We
want people to understand what it is and what were tryna do. We dont want to
put out a product before its time.
AllHipHop.com: Did you enter the apparel market on a dream,
or did you do it because you werent intrigued by what was already on the
Chilly-O: Back in 94 I knew I wanted to get into fashion
and start a clothing line. And I knew I wanted to start out with a tee shirt
line, and it took me 14 years to get here. I worked with the people in the
community for like 12 years, so I think that was my training. And people
started to know the name Chilly-O. Im like a myth here in Atlanta because
people know my name and the brand, but they dont recognize me.
AllHipHop.com: What had been your proudest moment thus
Chilly-O: It had to be the first time I saw [a photo of]
myself and Paula Michelle on AllHipHop.com. My brother called me like, Yo, you
know you on AllHipHop.com? My brother religiously follows the site. Anytime I
get situations like that, I feel that that shows progression. Seeing things
like that is what gets you thru the hard times cause its not easy to be on
AllHipHop.com: Anything you want rookie and veteran
followers of Chilly-O to know about the brand?
Chilly-O: I want them to know that were an original
brand. We stay in our own lane and create new ones. After everybody is off the
fad, well still be around. Anyone who knows me knows that I stay in my own
lane. I never follow behind anybody else.