The foundation of great work is a strong strategy. It’s what guides the courses we take to get clients where they want to go.
We prefer open communication with our clients to learn their businesses, develop relationships with their team, and jot down the small anecdotes that lead to big ideas down the line.
DEVELOPING GREAT WORK REQUIRES TRUST.
We believe an environment that promotes our team’s physical and mental health creates an atmosphere of inspiration and collaboration. So that’s just what we do. Together we’ve developed a flexible workflow that allows us to influence culture from the inside of our office or from the inside of our homes.
Our investment in people grows well outside our workspace. We understand this is all bigger than ourselves, so Defy continues to serve nonprofits and the ad community at large.
For most agencies, creating a capsule collection of apparel probably wasn’t high on the Q2 company agenda… especially at the tail end of a global pandemic.
For Defy, it was another story: combining our heritage, skills, and passion into a new line of business was a move that actually made sense on multiple levels.
So, here’s the story of what drove us to design and produce SR21, Defy’s first seasonal line of gear.
Paying Tribute to Our History
“This collection was inspired by many things–the view from the roof of our headquarters in Philadelphia, the bank of artwork our team developed during the rebrand, and the colorway of the DQM Air Max 90, re-released this year as the ‘bacons’,” said Defy Founder and Chief Creative Officer Nik Greenblatt. “When working out our designs, we incorporated perspectives from each of those things that aligned with our agency DNA.”
The end result pays homage to the streetwear roots Defy was founded on 20 years ago, and the lifestyle clients we’ve worked with over the years – Nike, Beats by Dre, Burton Snowboards, etc. – but in a way that represents Defy today. This vision is articulated in the collection’s FLIP THE SCRIPT TEE, a soft pink hammer weight crew neck with the inverted Defy logo juxtaposed against the Philadelphia skyline. Its counterpart, the DEFY PRISM TEE, takes us out of the city, featuring the Defy prism logo on a heavyweight natural fabric for a distinct summer beach vibe. City, shore, East Coast, West Coast… it’s all represented in SR21.
Flexing Production Muscles
Defy creates all manner of merch for our clients, but production is a specialty that we’re ALWAYS looking for more practice in.
“The more we can learn about production partners, payment options, and the order process, especially during a time when supply chains are stretched, the better-positioned we’ll be to meet our clients’ next merch needs,” said Senior Operations Manager, Dana Marie Hough. “What better way to expand that expertise than to increase our own production efforts?”
A few pieces featured in SR21 – the BLUE WAVE SHORTS, embroidered with the Defy prism, and the GRAF SLIDES, featuring an original graffiti print by international artist MADIZM – provided production challenges. “The aesthetic we’re going for is really precise,” said Hough, “so we had to do a lot of digging before we landed on the perfect products and partners to get us where we wanted to be.”
Letting Passion Lead
Thinking about their agency from a different perspective allowed Defy to tap into our creative side with zero restrictions, i.e., an artist’s dream.
“The merch line has allowed us to really see what we can work up when we’re given the space to be unique,” said Kris Blake, Executive Creative Director at Defy. “The design work and the production elements – photo and video – offered huge opportunities to evolve our skills and stay fresh, and have some fun with it.”
On the production side, Defy chose Atlantic City as our primary location, heading down to photograph another Philadelphia local and fellow creative, Shawn Preston, earlier this spring. Shawn embodied our gear and ethos, enabling the team to maximize our time in AC and run-and-gun a bit beyond the shot list. The result looks – and feels – fresh and relevant, and our creative’s team passion shines through the screen.
And Last But Not Least… Why Not?
Whenever possible, Defy’s response to a challenge isn’t “Why?”, but rather “Why Not?”
SR21 embodies that philosophy. It may not be a conventional move or hugely profitable effort (yet), but it’s a challenge, and Defy is ALWAYS game to try something new.
Plus, coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic (finally) has reminded all of us of the value of doing what we love. When you look at it from that perspective, why wouldn’t we give it a shot?
So, What’s Your Line?
Don’t get us wrong: we’re not saying every agency or brand should hop on the merch wagon just to be different. What we ARE saying, though, is that all brands should follow their DNA to identify brand extensions and business lines that may not be conventional but ARE in line with the brand’s values and USPs.
Added benefit: going this route is a great way to give back to your own team by letting them explore the corners of your brand that they’re most passionate about, and what you learn during the process may ultimately benefit your clients. So next time you’ve got ten minutes to spare, pull out your BOSSED NOTEBOOK and start brainstorming. Uncover your brand’s less-traveled path, and then give us a call – we’d love to collaborate on your next big idea.