As of Thursday, August 8, 2019
A big part of the clothing business is making apparel for different professions, such as scrubs for doctors, suits for lawyers and coveralls for mechanics. Matthew Moses has built a business out of making sportswear for different employee groups who work for technology giants such as Google.
His company, Shalimar Media Group, designs in Los Angeles and works with manufacturers in the city. Moses took pains to note that he does not make typical promotional products. Rather, he competes against the hundreds of other companies in his space by offering something different.
“It’s about presenting a lifestyle product rather than a promotional product,” he said. “I compete with creativity and quality.”
Reenvisioning corporate apparel
Moses broke into this field by luck after a college friend secured a job with Google. In 2014, she asked if Moses could send mock-ups for designs for the Black Googlers Network’s Black History Month celebration. His designs were chosen. After the project was completed, he was referred to work with other groups and companies including Facebook, eBay and Uber. None of these jobs are permanent, and Moses has to reintroduce himself and pitch his services to corporate clients for each new project.
Instead of taking a basic T-shirt and screen-printing a corporate logo on it, Moses utilizes streetwear and fashion touches in the corporate sweatshirts and tees that he makes for different Google employee groups. In addition to the Black Googlers Network, he’s worked with the Hispanic Googlers Network, also known as HOLA, and Gaygler, which is an LGBTQIA employee group.
These employee groups typically wear the clothes to outreach events, such as CS First, where Google-employee club members teach coding to kids. Moses makes limited runs of 150 to more than 1,000 garments for these clubs. Styles can range from slip-on sneakers with club names to sweatshirts with hems and cuffs made in Google’s company colors of blue, red, yellow and green.
Like dealing with any client, Moses asks employee clubs what they want in their company styles. Sometimes, they want nothing more than a T-shirt bearing the company name. Other times they want something with more details.
“They want to feel cool wearing it,” said Moses. “They want something that elevates their experience.”
Making products for corporate clients is a giant field. The market’s 2018 sales volume was $24.7 billion. Apparel makes up 28.3 percent of that market, according to the trade group Promotional Products Association International.
Moving into Mansfield Outpost
Moses estimated that 70 percent of his work comes from making basics with a fashion edge for Google and other tech giants. These projects helped him fund his resortwear line, Mansfield Outpost.
Earlier this year, he introduced Mansfield Outpost at the LA Men’s Market trade show. The name is inspired by Mansfield Avenue in South Central Los Angeles, and the line reflects his experience.
“I can make resortwear from the perspective of a man of color,” he said. “As a young man of color, you go on vacation and buy swim trunks and clothes from any number of big brands. You’re putting on their perspectives when you craft your look. I’m saying that it’s also okay to craft a look from someone who sees the world through your eyes.”
The inaugural line was inspired by the clothes worn by cricket players in the Caribbean. Cricket is a popular sport in Jamaica and other areas of the West Indies. Mansfield Outpost designed tees bearing the face of Clive Lloyd, one of the stars of the Caribbean cricket scene and the captain of the West Indies cricket team from 1974 to 1985.
“Early in Ralph Lauren’s career, he said that he was designing clothes for actors like Cary Grant. That’s awesome. But guys like me didn’t grow up with Cary Grant. We didn’t know who Cary Grant was,” Moses said. “We were looking for something that aligns more with Puffy Combs than Cary Grant.”
The first collection includes wool cricket caps and a white denim umpire jacket. The line also makes short-sleeve and long-sleeve T-shirts in lime green and fuchsia. Retail price points range from $5 to over $50.
For its second season, Mansfield Outpost will do more cricket-inspired clothing. Moses also forecast that the brand will produce more graphic tees. In a market that is seemingly dominated by black T-shirts, Mansfield Outpost’s point of difference also will be its color palette, which focuses on greens and pinks in dark and light hues.
The collection is sold through Moses’s direct-to-consumer channel, www.mansfieldoutpost.com. It also is sold at the Los Angeles–headquartered e-boutique Argot. Teron Stevenson, Argot’s founder, sells caps and accessories from Mansfield Outpost along with established brands such as Carhartt and independent brands such as his own brand, Argot. He said that the cricket focus from the first collection was not too exotic for Americans. In the past few years, more Americans have been developing an interest in sports like soccer, which is wildly popular overseas.
“I like the idea of going on vacation,” Stevenson said of Mansfield Outpost. “You have to look at it with global eyes.”