OurCaste: Down the Hill With a Newport Beach Sensibility
The entrepreneurs behind OurCaste may have just launched their line in January, but they are definitely not green to the scene.
Based in Newport Beach, Calif., the brand is headed by Michael Quinones and Matt Davis, who together worked with apparel brands Comune and Chapter. Previously, Quinones held a position at Ambiguous and Paul Frank/Baumvision while Davis was at Burton. With OurCaste, the two created a surf-inspired collection for the men’s contemporary/activewear market.
Quinones and Davis wanted to launch an alt surf brand that could bridge the gap between surf and contemporary retail and cater to a demographic between the ages of 13 and 30. While working on a previous project, Michael Tomson—the pro surfer, Gotcha co-founder and surf-industry veteran—became a sounding board through the whole launch process, Quinones said.
“He expressed wanting to help set up a platform for us to launch this concept with an infrastructure that could both handle and support the success. We allknew the potential existed,” Quinones said.“MT is there as much or as little as we need him to be, and we could not be more stoked to have him in our corner.”
Davis oversees all of the sales, distribution and operations, and Quinones manages the design, creative and brand management. Supporting the launch are LJ O’Leary in marketing; Sterling Foxcroft in design and media; Sean Ciminesi in sales; and an intern, Mark Underwood. Quinones likened the small team to a tight ship. “Lean and focused,” he said.
The collection includes chino pants, woven tops and graphic tees. There is a rustic beach vibe throughout the categories, favoring pastel and burnt-colored hues. “We are steadfast in offering premium fabrications in forward yet [functional] silhouettes with contemporary detailing,” Quinones said.
Fabrics are sanded for a soft hand, and pieces include special details such as thermal-weld trim. There are double-napped flannels and soft jersey pieces. The outerwear collection includes waterproofed tech fabrics as well as wool blends and canvas pieces. While some pieces are produced domestically, others are made in Mexico and the balance is sourced through overseas vendors, Quinones said.
Wholesale prices for the pants start at $55, and wovens are priced at $49. Tees range from $9.50 to $11, and outerwear is priced from $58 to $80. The line currently sells in 35 stores, including Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, Aloha Sunday, American Rag, Need Supply, Jacks and Hansens.
The OurCaste name is a nod to the surf and skate culture’s outsider status.
“I had an epiphany that we were all a part of a lifestyle caste,” Quinones said. “When people looked down at you or assumed you as something without knowing you, you found other people that shared these qualities. You banded together with them, almost without thinking. That’s where the heart of OurCaste really derives from.”