The Akomplice clothing brand began with a dream. Brothers Patrick Liberty and Mike McCarney grew up in a small rural town in the mountains of Colorado as musicians with no fashion experience in the industry. Everything changed, however, one night in 2004.
“My brother had a dream of a puppet cutting its strings that were attached to a hand. He said it represented cutting yourself from fear,” said Liberty, co-owner of Akomplice. “My brother was the first one who said he wanted to start a clothing company. I told him it was a bad idea. But then we started designing everything together and it worked really well because of our background in music and because we grew up with hip-hop culture and skate culture and we didn’t want to represent any logos.”
Since its inception, Akomplice has represented the individualism and street style embraced by its creators. Their most famous logo, for example is the Statue of Liberty brandishing a gun in place of her torch. It’s a reflection of the designers’ take on U.S. foreign policy, said Liberty, and it’s resonated with everyone from hip-hop artists to “gun-toting rednecks” across the board.
Since then, the brothers have expanded the brand from Tokyo to Denmark and now Santa Barbara. Today, June 2, retail store Fuzion at 1115 State Street will host the Summer Launch Party of Akomplice’s newest collection, “The Summer in Color.” Fuzion, owned by Peter Robinson and Shaun Bauman, has carried the Akomplice label for almost four years now.
The event is special, however, because it also marks two important firsts for the brand: its seven-year anniversary, and the first collaborative partnership between the two companies.
“It’s a partnership between the two of us,” said Liberty. “They sell all of our brands at Fuzion and we’ve designed a lot of collaborative clothing, as well. Our sign will be under their store’s sign, so it’s kind of a joint store. It will be really different because I’ve never seen any stores do something like this before.”
Akomplice has garnered quite a celebrity following over the years. Everyone from Outkast co-frontman Big Boi to Snoop Dogg and Chris Brown have sported their clothes, but it was a plug on HBO’s hit series Entourage that helped the brand really take off in the mainstream market. After Turtle wore an Akomplice sweater during an episode, the company was inundated with phone calls from across the country and sold out of it almost immediately.
In addition to celebrity and athlete endorsements, Akomplice has also collaborated with artists and musicians for new outlets for their artistic expression. Underground rap group Hieroglyphics wrote a song for Akomplice and they, in turn, created a hoodie inspired by the rappers.
The brothers moved to Santa Barbara eight months ago, and the Summer Launch party reflects everything they have undertaken since beginning the brand as young men of 18 and 20 years old. Future plans for the gentlemen include talks of expanding their markets into the Middle East and Africa, as well as creating a women’s line.
“This party is going to be huge,” Liberty said. “We’re making a museum featuring all the press Akomplice has received over the years, and you’re going to see books from season 1 to season 14 of the line. We’ve sold globally for five years now, so we want to tell our story and showcase what we’ve done. We’ll have music videos we’ve been featured in — everything from “Buy You a Drank” by T-Pain to Immortal Technique. We embrace the local scene, and that’s what we represent. Despite being a global company, we always reach out to the locals.”
In addition to the music and the museum installments, the party will have art and an open bar with free beer provided by the Flying Dog Brewing Company. Anyone that comes to the store before the festivities kick off at 7:30 p.m. will receive some kind of free Akomplice swag like a flask or a shirt. Akomplice will also have an after-party and fashion show at Tonic nightclub on State Street later in the evening.