Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/timbo/public_html/columns/wpmu-settings.php on line 45
Radcollector.com: Columns | Brian Jones | Theotis

Brian Jones

Know Your History or No Future – Part Three: Ryan Kingman and Stance

23 March 2012, 17.54 | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 comments »

With a squeamish face, I said, “What?! Ryan Kingman left Element to start a sock company?! What the fuck?!” Ya, I will admit I was an idiot and say that this was my instant reaction when I heard the news roughly two years ago. I’m sure this is what a lot of people thought until you actually opened up your mind for a minute and then you realized that this was a genius move! It’s a category that everyone loves, but yet no one owned. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love the feeling of putting on a brand-spanking-new pair of socks straight out of the bag.  If you ask any person what it feels like to put on a fresh-new pair of foot clouds, they will instantly have a Cheshire Cat smile from ear-to-ear as they gaze back on their great memories of those momentary feelings. You see, that’s the difference now, instead of having to wait for a brand new pair of socks to re-live that experience, you now have Stance to re-live that moment, daily! I know, that new sock feeling seems impossible to accomplish daily, but read on and you will see how Stance did it! But, wait…how do you market that foot cloud memory? How do you open up peoples minds enough to make them realize that you don’t have to wait months, or even years, to experience this feeling again? It seems like such an impossible mission…aahhhh…wait…that’s it, Ryan Kingman’s marketing mastermind brain, Stance has arrived!

I recently spent some time with Ryan Kingman, the VP of Marketing for Stance, at their offices in San Clemente, CA to go over the history of Stance and find out how everything came to fruition and where they’re going in the future. Stance has just finished its rookie season and in one short year has become a stand out in the market. I think we all want to know who, what, when, how and why! So here it is…

Ryan Kingman and Stance
Ryan Kingman, VP of Marketing for Stance

Jones: I have to know because I was kind of tripping when I heard the news you were going to bounce from what you helped create at Element and move on to create Stance, a sock company. How did this all happen?
Kingman: I was driving down to the TransWorld offices for a meeting about some editorial we had coming up and got a call from Mike Carter who at the time was at Skullcandy. He was brief, but said that he knows some people that want to start a new brand and are looking for someone to lead the marketing efforts. My initial feeling was flattery which quickly turned to dismay when Carter went on to say it would be a sock company. I’ll be honest, my first thought was “that’ll be a tough one,” but I told him I was open to new ideas and to please put us in contact. Within the short remaining drive to TransWorld the mental gears started turning and ideas just start popping into my head, mostly relating to what this new concept could look like in skateboarding – since that is what I grew up living and breathing, it was what I initially focused on – and just started envisioning this brand and building the excitement, knowing that this could be super fucking rad. I was thinking about what sock brands are out there now, what kind of opportunities this could open up as far as who we could work with, what the vibe could be, how it could look, what kind of product we could produce. By the time I got the call from John Wilson, President of Stance, I was more than down to go and talk about the opportunity and hear what it was about. From the early stages there was no name, no logo, just the concept and a plan. That’s part of the genuine excitement, just to have the opportunity to build a brand from the ground up. From there we set up a meeting with the chosen group to build this new animal. For that initial meeting I put together a marketing presentation outlining my thoughts about what this brand could be, how it could look, who could be involved…and I guess they were into it. I can’t say enough about how rad the group brought together for this meeting was; everyone had an amazing vision to make this opportunity become a great brand. From John Wilson, President, to Jeff Kearl our CEO, Aaron Hennings the VP of Creative and Taylor Shupe the VP of Production, the group just seemed to click right off the bat. All of us shared a mutual excitement in building something in a category that seemed until then to be primarily a commodity product. We wanted to champion it and own the category!

Ryan Kingman and Stance
Chris Cole Signature Collection

Jones: So, you pretty much had the idea to own it like Kleenex or Q-Tips, you don’t ask for a tissue, you ask for a Kleenex, or you ask for a Q-Tip, not a cotton swab.
Kingman: To some extent, yes, that’s exactly it. You can go get a dozen pair of white socks at Walmart or Target, or a skateboard, or a t-shirt for very little dough. But, most of those items are complete crap and will either break on you, tear, have a short life span, they’re subpar product that will not last. If you want a quality product that will last you a long ass time and feels great like a fresh pair every time you put them on, that’s where we come in. We’re aiming for Stance to be the first thing that comes to your mind, to be synonymous with socks.

Andrew Reynolds

Jones: From my perspective, you have pretty much started a new trend with people not being shy of only wearing white or black socks. People’s personality can really shine through by just a glance of what socks they’re wearing. Being such a new category for a brand to own, what was your vision and goal to obtain with Stance, from the actual physical product to the team and marketing surrounding it?
Kingman: Believe it or not, the response we got from everyone we approached for Stance is what escalated our vision and goals right from the start. I couldn’t believe how many people were so responsive when we told them what we were doing, they would just say ‘oh man, I love socks, that so fucking awesome, what can I do?’ Those individuals helped give us the assurance that we were on to something and we were headed in the right direction. We can’t really take credit for starting a trend with socks, I just think we came in at the perfect time when the trend started to hit. It’s the people associated with Stance that have escalated our awareness and have helped us become a leader in this market.

Ryan Kingman and Stance
Theotis Beasley

Jones: Speaking of which, how do you plan on staying ahead of the game? You really opened up a lot of brands eye’s about this category and the possibilities it could create for growth.
Kingman: This is something we realized could happen right from the start. We really focused not only on our product and team, but also our presence in stores where consumers that might not be too savvy or switched on to the world of action sports and fashion, could still come into contact with our brand. Our in-store presence, with our custom fixtures, really helped create that awareness. The reality is that often times it’s a mom or dad who is looking for something cool for their kids and because of our fixture presence we are driving sales with customers that may have no prior exposure to us and our other marketing efforts. We’ve woken up the sleeping giants that are now starting to put in more time and energy into their sock category, but that’s where us being first-to-market has come into play and the reason we hit it so hard coming right out the gate. It’s going to be a constant battle for us to fight to lead this category. The advantage we have is that socks are our life line! Stance does not sell t-shirts, watches, denim, wovens, or anything else. All we make and focus on is our socks and making the best socks you can get. If you ever see a Stance t-shirt it was created as an additional marketing vehicle, for our team to wear or for promotional purposes, but there is no plan to add this or any other item to our line.

Ryan Kingman and Stance
Stance Spring 2012 Collection

Jones: That’s an interesting point, because even though other brands have designers for their accessories, this category can in no way be their main focus or they will lose market share in their other collections. So, in some way, they might come after you now since you’re new and fresh brand that’s on trend, but will lose steam once they have to follow some other trend or new category. I know you can’t bank on that, but it’s inevitable for most brands. What about the quality and technical aspects of the socks? Most people think it’s just throwing cotton and spandex together and there you go, there is your sock. What is Stance doing to stay ahead of the game?
Kingman: We actually not only want to make great products, but we want to create an experience every time you put on a pair of our socks. There are so many aspects of our socks that we focus on that make our socks great, it’s definitely not just this and that and there you go. Our combed cotton helps create that fresh, soft feeling every time you wear them. It’s the perfect combination of combed cotton, spandex and nylon/spandex to help keep its shape, to a seamless toe closure so you don’t feel that weird bump in your shoes, to arch-band support so the sock really wraps the center of your foot, to the y-gore seem so that your heel sits snug in the sock and doesn’t let the sock float around once you’ve worn them all day. It’s a fairly involved process once you break down all of the components of our socks. A lot goes into the technical design and production process. Mix all of that in with our designs, colors and support we have from our team and artists we work with and you have something special.

Ryan Kingman and Stance
Stance Family

Jones: It’s awesome! It almost sounds like a perfect storm that culminates into your line. So, moving on to the marketing side of things, having a chance to build a new team from scratch, did you always have a wish list of skaters, artists, musicians, etc. that you’ve always wanted to work with, but never had the opportunity to in the past because of them being locked into contracts with competitors? You have pretty much created a new category for sponsorship so it seams to me the sky was the limit on who could be a part of the brand.
Kingman: Absolutely! To have this new opportunity to work with people I have always admired was super exciting for me and still is. As soon as I got that first call about Stance  I was thinking about who I could bring on board. I mean, some were achievable, but some were not once other brands started to consider them wearing our socks as a conflict of interest. It’s funny, I call them Sock Blockers! Haha. But, yes, I always knew if this sort of opportunity ever came up I would hit up more than a few people. But, it wasn’t strategic like ‘Oh this person can do this for us and he can do this, that person caters to this genre!,’ it was just natural based off of the relationships I already had with them and knew what they were capable of or I simply dug them as a person. Chris Cole, Andrew Reynolds, Mikey LeBlanc, Mithc Abshere, Theotis Beasly, I mean the list is so rad! I knew they would be sick to have a part of our family and would not only back our efforts, but would give real input on what they like and would want to see in our line. There is no set style we are looking for and that is really where The Uncommon Thread phrase came into play, there is no set path or direction for what we are doing, ideas are open and welcome from anyone.

Ryan Kingman and Stance
Don Pendleton Collaboration

Jones: That’s definitely been my thoughts about the brand is that it’s not some contrived and forced thing, everything about it just feels really natural. There is no self-cheering, it just seems like a humble approach and you let the product and image of Stance speak for itself. It’s funny, I know what you’re doing is working because It’s gotten to a point for me that no matter where I am at, if I see someone with a colorful sock or a sock that looks different, I automatically assume it’s a Stance sock and friends I talk to about Stance have told me the same thing.
Kingman: That’s one thing that I am stoked on too and more than a few people have told us the same thing as well, which is awesome!

Jones: What about being category specific, are you stuck to any calendar for selling seasons or are you able to create products that are in demand faster?
Kingman: That’s been a hot topic for us. We’re definitely not stuck on only creating products for a selling season. Those seasons exist for a reason because apparel takes so long to produce and create and there are so many pre-book issues to consider, those lines are created so many months out before they ever hit the shelves. We do have seasonal offerings and catalogs but are not stuck with only making and selling products that are in our catalogs. We can be pro-active and react to whatever the consumer needs so we can always have fresh products in our collection.

Stance Family

Jones: How have you been able to stay fresh with your marketing, I know that Stance is fairly new in the game, but I see a lot of rad marketing initiatives keep popping from you that you don’t see too many other brands try to attempt, such as your Finders Keepers posts on Twitter and Instagram.
Kingman: Advertising and marketing has changed so much over the last couple of years, we’re doing all we can to try and keep pace and get ahead. I really like to focus on the digital opportunities and tie them to any of our marketing efforts. Finders Keepers is a great example and we have got a ton of response from that with our consumers as well as retailers who are into that idea of creating something new. You just can’t simply let your paid advertisements do it for you alone. There are so many avenues to connect directly with our consumers that we’re constantly researching with new digital trends of social media which has played a major roll in our growth and awareness.

Thanks for taking the time, Kingman. Look out for more awesome things coming from Stance in the near future.

Interview by Brian Jones
Photos courtesy of Stance

Theotis Loves Everybody! And, I Mean Everybody!

04 December 2009, 23.20 | Posted in Uncategorized | No comments »

This is a video that Altamont sent out last month, I seriously had to post this particular video because Theotis Beasly is one of the best dudes alive and after watching this, I knew why he was so damn cool all the time. The forces of evil try to get Theotis Beasley to talk smack on people, but he doesn’t hate on anybody. Theotis really loves everybody! This was part of a 10 video part series documenting the Altamont road trip from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas filmed and edited entirely by Altamont contributor Patrick O’Dell of Epicly Laterd. This tour was a mash-up of days spent skateboarding and nights of energetic live music, featuring the Altamont skate team and contributor bands No Age and The Goat making their way out to this years annual South by Southwest music festival.

YouTube Preview Image

Check out all ten Altamont SxSw video segments here.


Tags: | | |