SF company helps turn concepts into clothing

February 20, 2012 6:59:51 PM PST
An artist and clothing designer have teamed up to create an innovative company that could be called a San Francisco original. It's a place where you can make your dreams come true.

Perhaps nowhere is the entrepreneurial spirit alive more than in Bay Area. Combine that with San Francisco's eccentric personality and you get a company called Betabrand

Whether you want to go back to the 70's with your very own reversible disco jacket, or you're trying to look like a ridiculous lounge lizard, or want something designed to go shopping at the farmer's market, Betabrand.com may be the place where you can find it. Housed in a warehouse-like office setting in San Francisco's Mission District, the company is all about creating new ideas.

"All these products are designed to make you the center of all attention and conversation," said Chris Lindland, the Betabrand CEO.

Betabrand releases at least three new products each week and customers are a big part of those releases. They're encouraged to model what they purchase and submit quirky photos of themselves for Betabrand's website. Just about anyone can get their 15 minutes of fame.

"We make everything here and we make it in small batches so we can turn it around really quickly," said Lindland.

The successful products get a second production run. The bad ideas are dumped.

"These underwear are impregnated with iron," said Lindland.

That was one of the bad ideas. The "TSA Undies" were designed to hide your private parts when going through airport screening, but the TSA would not let Betabrand test the idea, so the undies never went into production. Some of the ideas that do make it come from Betabrand's customers.

"You know being an artist, you look at the world a little bit differently," said Federico.

Peter Federico is a Berkeley-based artist. The koi fish has been an important symbol in his life since his mother gave him a koi kite and he learned the Japanese legend behind it.

"Swimming against the current, against all odds, they could swim all the way up and they'd get to heaven and they'd be transformed into a dragon," said Federico.

One day he had a dream of turning the koi kite into a hoodie, but he says no one understood the concept except Betabrand.

"I basically bought this blank sweatshirt and I sewed pieces of actual koi kites onto the sweatshirt," said Federico.

"This is a very San Francisco appropriate invention. And we thought it was great, and we made it with him," said Lindland.

"It's so humbling to have that dream come true and people see it and appreciate it," said Fderico.

Betabrand tells us the koi hoodie is selling great and that more have been made to keep up with demand.

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