I am jotting down some notes over a beer and a not so good pepperoni pizza at Rush Street. After some scheduling miscues, Michael Pino, the founder of Acropolis Apparel, and I are meeting up to discuss his brand and their recent growth. He rolls in wearing the Golden Age tee from their Spring ’10 collection, grabs a vodka lemonade and settles in.
Give us a little background behind Acropolis Apparel?
I started the brand in 2007 when I moved back to LA from Denver and realizing that I wanted to do something else. I couldn’t overlook my passion for streetwear, so I pooled a small investment together and started Acropolis.
I was a history major in college and wanted to create a historically based streetwear brand with a twist. Most people think that the brand is rooted in Greek history because of the name “Acropolis” but in actuality our brand covers all periods in history.
I have seen a lot of growth this year, how has that been?
It has been great. Joining up with the 722 Showroom and this has helped us get into new shops like $Still, El Mercado, Boarders LA to name few.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I am a sports nut, so some of our recent pieces have been sports inspired, but that is not the only thing I want to focus on. My historical focus is broad. I appreciate all periods in history and can also draw inspiration from multiple historical figures. It’s not necessary for it all to fall into one specific time period.
What’s your biggest accomplishment?
I would have to say signing with 722 Showroom. It has been incredible seeing Acropolis grow and now share space with brands like 9grand, Ludwig, and Keep. Acropolis has also been able to get international distribution in Australia and Canada.
What are you working on next?
April 1 st is our Spring ‘10 launch. We have 9 solid styles that get back to the basics with clean, crisp artwork. Fall is where we are going to really bring things to the table.
We are going to introduce some v-necks as well as fitted caps.
Looking ahead what other categories do you want to break into?
I really would like to get into button ups and outerwear.
Where do you see Acropolis in 5 years?
I really want to carve a niche in the market and build a loyal following. My goal is to have the Acropolis brand recognizable and respected in the industry.
Many top brands are opening up retail shops these days to connect with their customers. Do you see Acropolis going down that path?
Possibly. My main focus is to build new accounts and get into quality doors. If I get to the point of opening up a shop, that would be great. A shop in the retail area on Cahuenga would be cool.
Collaborations are vital in our industry. Which brands would you want to do a collab with?
Well, we are actually looking to do some collabs within the showroom, like with Ludwig. Also, possibly doing something with Bloodbath.
How about stepping outside of the box, what would be some dream collaborations?
Wow, where do I start. I’m a sneakerhead, so if I could really do something it would be updating the Kobe I Zooms. I also like Creative Recreation, that would be cool. Something with Nixon Watches would be dope, but I think above all I’d love to collab with Staple because I appreciate their design and brand concept.
What brands do you think are killing it right now?
I think Capital is stepping up right now. The Hundreds are always killing it. I also admire Akomplice, 9grand, and BLVCK SCVLE.
Given the current state of the economy how do you plan to continue building the brand?
I have to stick to my plan. Not only do I have to be financially cautious, but also have to keep the right people around me and continue to do what is right for building brand awareness. I may not be able to put out print ads, but I can go to the right shows and be involved in the right events to reach out to customers and show them what Acropolis is all about.
What advice would you give someone that wants to start a brand?
Start small and put together a concise business plan. Be smart with your money and surround yourself with good people that understand your vision.
What would your last meal be?
If you could have coffee with someone dead or alive, who would it be?
Can I choose one for both?
Alive would have to be Magic Johnson and dead would be Socrates.
If you could hop on a plane right now, where would you go?
Best place to snowboard?
What’s on your ipod right now?
Raekwon’s Purple Tape. It’s insane.
If your house was on fire and you could only take 3 things with you, what would you grab?
The back-up drive with all of my Acropolis stuff, my OG Jordan Black IV’s, and my ‘87-88 signed championship Lakers ball.
What’s your favorite piece of clothing you own?
Would have to be my ‘79-80 Kareem throwback.
And to wrap it all up, something you can’t live without?
For more check out Acropolis Apparel and keep an eye out for their Spring '10 line to hit stores in April. Thanks Mike for the chat and picking up the tab.
by derrick klunchoo