Josh Schmitz, the founder and designer of the Denver-based ready-to-wear clothing company Ruckus Apparel, is the epitome of how business owners see business in the 21st century. Creating, delivery and customer relations isn’t just about a shop and its inventory anymore – it’s social.
Similar to what Starbucks did with coffee, the product is no longer just something we purchase or in this case, wear; it’s an experience and a culture we belong to. As the young entrepreneur shared in our recent interview, “It’s not the clothing, it’s the connection” adding, “we are not in the clothing business, we are in the confidence business“.
Perusing through Ruckus Apparel’s 2016 summer collection – Insult to Space, watching the short film created for the new line or visiting the company’s official website – it’s clear the Ruckus brand understands the power of utilizing visual expression.
The company’s “Ambassadors” (another name for their models) are young, sexy and at times covered in tattoos. No one is seen wearing a fake smile or trying to present a utopian lifestyle. Instead, like the poem that inspired Schmitz to name his latest seasonal line expresses, Ruckus appears to reach out for those living in a reality that includes all ranges of emotion.
Josh took some time recently to share more with DaysTune about his business philosophy at Ruckus, the 2016 Summer collection and the future of his growing brand.
1) What are you selling? I know that seems like an unnecessary question, but let me preface it by saying the Ruckus brand and business model seems to be about more than just the clothing. Am I right?
– Absolutely. Let’s look at the business as a whole for a second – Find a problem, and then create a product or service that solves that problem. It’s the simplest business model of all time. But with RUCKUS, even though we are a clothing brand, we are not truly aiming to solve a clothing problem. What I try to do, is solve a connection problem.
Let’s be real here – No higher priced lines are truly solving a clothing problem. If you need a T-shirt, you certainly don’t spend $50 and shop online and wait for it to get shipped, you go to Target and buy a 3pack on the spot for $12. So, what is it then that makes us shop and behave the way we do? Its not the clothing, its the connection and the brand as a whole.
That’s what we try to create, connection. I tell people all the time – we are not in the clothing business, we are in the confidence business.
We all wake up and have those days where you are tired, or nervous, or self-conscious, but then you go to that one item or outfit in your closet that makes you feel a certain way… you put it on and it fits exactly how you want it to… and you look in the mirror and feel like you can take over the world.
That’s the moment I live for. That’s the moment I create for.
2) Deathcrew. Skulls with daggers through them and a reaper polo player emblem – how do you explain the Ruckus style?
I have come to love the term Grime Couture. I said almost 5 years ago that the line between high fashion and ready to wear street style clothing were going to begin to cross hairs and I think we are in the middle of that huge juxtaposition right now. All the sudden an original vintage Iron Maiden T-shirt, ripped jeans, and combat boots are just as acceptable to wear to an awards show as a tuxedo.
Our style is for people who don’t feel the need to fit in with the norm because they have the confidence to wear whatever they want and still command the attention of any room.
3) Who does the designing at Ruckus? What’s the main purpose of the styles you choose for each gender (confidence, sexiness, style, etc)?
We have a team of three in-house designers that do everything from the graphics, to the tech packs, and pattern making. We collectively design each season around whatever we are feeling influenced by at the time. Everything from poetry, to the 90s uniforms of the Miami Hurricane Football team to World War 1 fighter jet patches. Our style is the culmination of 4 peoples unique ways of looking at the world combined and transformed into something that is utilitarian, easy to style, and makes you feel like a million bucks when you put it on.
4) Tell us a bit about the 2016 summer collection, Insult to Space?
Insult To Space is a collection that really pushed us creatively. The entire collection is based around a poem that was written by a local high school girl in Colorado named Aleah Bradshaw. The poem dives deep into the emotion of a breakup, the messiness of it all. And at the end, it doesn’t offer any real resolution. It just leaves you sitting there with these emotions and no real place to go with it. And that, I think, is one of the most honest things that life has to offer. Too many people and brands are looking to SELL you on this idea of being perfect, and happy all the time. I wanted this collection to be the opposite, and to just say, its ok to not be ok, and that there is real beauty in the honestly and vulnerability it takes to just tell the world – right now im not ok.
5) Okay Josh, let’s talk about the “Ambassadors” – specifically the ladies. From the company’s Lookbook to the online store, one can’t help but notice a lot more than just the cool clothing options?
RUCKUS as a brand is not built around one niche, we don’t dive into analytics and corner the market saying “this 18-24-year-old fitness enthusiast is our demographic.”
RUCKUS really is a brand for the people. For the weekend warriors, for the gangsters, pastors, bankers, musicians, artists, and athletes. Anyone from anywhere I believe, can spend 5 minutes reading our blog and connect with at least one thing we believe in, and that translates to the clothing as well. It’s not made for everyone to like everything, but it is made for everyone to at least like SOMETHING.
Our ambassadors reflect that. From rappers to fitness models, to designers, to metal bands. We support the people who we feel truly live out our company values from working hard, being competitive, and loving in such a way of self-sacrifice and honesty that the world is a different place because they are here, and the world will be a different place once they’re gone.
6) What’s in the future for Ruckus and Josh Schmitz (New Lines, Ventures, Life)?
We just opened up our first flagship store in Denver and it’s been going amazing, so we have the one-year anniversary party coming up in August for that. I am also heading to Columbus to throw the official after party for the AP Music awards with some of our best friends and bands we sponsor, and were also heavy working on Fall/Winter as we speak, so its a pretty full schedule coming up for sure.
In 2014, Josh teamed up with co-owner Rustin Coburn, to open the Bellwether in Denver, Co. The brick and mortar storefront is a hybrid type establishment with a clothing boutique, coffee and whiskey bar in the front and a “members only” area in the back. For just $10 a month, members can utilize a workspace for creatives, hang out, attend special events and even get an old-school hair cut from a Bellwether barber.
To find out more about Ruckus Apparel or to shop online, visit the Ruckus Apparel official website at Ruckusapparel.com
By: Wayne Andres
All photos by courtesy of Ruckus Apparel.