PANYC State represents a new age in fashion. The brand was created in December 2007 by four friends set to change the clothing industry. Influenced by New York and Philadelphia urban culture and political, social and cultural issues, PANYC State’s clothing hold a deeper meaning. Bryce E. Stewart, CEO of PANYC State shares with us the history of the brand and their accomplishments.
TM: I find it refreshing that your tees offer an outlook to worldly issues. What inspired you to step outside of the norm and create a line of tees with impactful messages?
Bryce E. Stewart: The initial event that sparked the creation of the clothing line was a shopping trip to a local mall. My brothers, PANYC State Co-Founders, and I were looking for new school clothes and quickly realized that no store had anything that we wanted. The market was flooded with meaningless logo tees and skull tees at the time. After the trip we sat down and joked that we would have been better off if we just made our own clothes. That joke immediately turned into our first “business meeting” as we realized that we had all the pieces necessary to start a clothing company. My brothers and I have always been drawn to things that blend the intellectual and the creative, and we saw these lacking in the abundant streetwear options. We decided to create PANYC State to create designs that had aesthetic appeal as well as deeper, sometimes hidden, meanings and messages that our customers would be drawn to. It was a later thought that we could use our line for philanthropic gains to aid causes around the world, and this is the part of our mission for which we are most proud.
TM: Describe the meaning behind your brands name.
B.E.S: PANYC State (pronounced “panic state”) was actually the second name we came up with at the inception of the company. Our first choice was Pins and Needles, but we found that several companies were using this name, and we wanted something more unique to go along with the style of our brand. The name PANYC State was created to pay tribute to the original creators of the brand’s concept who hailed from Philadelphia (PA) and New York (NYC). PANYC State was founded at the end of 2007 when the country was embroiled in war and an impending financial crisis. It seemed that everything that was being spread through every media outlet was sending the public into hysteria, a state of panic. The name PANYC State just fit perfectly in every way.
TM: Who are your target customers?
B.E.S: PANYC State is for young, intelligent, and unique trendsetters. We believe that everyone is unique, and it is crucial to express yourself in any way possible. Why not in your clothes? We at PANYC State design apparel with messages that we believe should be important to youth worldwide. The majority of our customers and fans are between the ages of 15 and 28.
TM: What risks did you take in order to get your brand to where it is today?
B.E.S: Other than the obvious financial risks we haven’t done anything crazy. We have just put ourselves out there to stores, sites, and customers. We have been extremely grateful for such an astounding show of support for our vision and our designs.
TM: How did you go about marketing your brand?
B.E.S: Up until this point the vast majority of our marketing is through word of mouth. This method has helped us gain a cult following which is growing daily. Oh, and it’s free! We have also recently joined forces with Google in Philadelphia at an event featuring local fashion businesses and food vendors. We also market extensively through our Facebook and Twitter pages and have built partnerships with local fashion bloggers.
TM: Do you think that with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter advertising is now simpler and easier?
B.E.S: With the emergence of social media, especially Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, it has become extremely easy to market our brand and spread our brand beyond our immediate circles. The best thing about social media is that, for the most part, advertising on these platforms is free which is crucial for a small, up and coming brand like PANYC State. We have definitely taken advantage of our social networks, and we are looking for new and exciting ways to use these platforms to engage our fans, build business relationships, and spread our messages. Check us out at our homes around the web for breaking news and exclusive offers. Facebook: PANYC STATE. Twitter: @PANYC_STATE. Google+: PANYC State.
TM: PLNDR.com is an exclusive member’s only online site offering sells from the hottest streetwear brands. What was your initial reaction when you found out that you ranked second in the PLNDR Brand Battle Contest?
B.E.S: Obviously we were super excited and encouraged by all the support we had received from our old and new fans. I actually happened to come upon the contest by chance one day when I was shopping at PLNDR, and I knew that I had to enter PANYC State. To be honest, we weren’t expecting such a great showing because we had recently re-branded the company, and our style and mission is so different from most other streetwear brands. We pushed extremely hard with marketing blasts to everyone we could reach. Our fans were amazing, they were sending text messages, emails, phone calls and everything possible literally around the world to help us get votes. We are so glad about our placement, and that our hard work paid off. Reaching second place was only the beginning. It earned us the right to present PLNDR with our line sheet for a chance to be featured on their site. We are currently playing the waiting game with our fingers crossed.
TM: After being in the t-shirt industry for about 5 years and watching new brands emerge, how important is competition to you?
B.E.S: We honestly don’t pay a ton of attention to our competition because the independent tee shirt industry has grown so much and become so saturated in recent years. We really focus on staying unique and offering streetwear customers something new, something they won’t see at other brands. The only time we really focus on competition is when we are deciding pricing and determining seasonal trends.
TM: Being that PANYC State tees highlight environmental and social issues, are there any organizations in particular that you hope to partner with in the future?
B.E.S: We really want to focus on building partnerships with organizations that advocate for educational equality in the US and abroad as well as for a sustainable future for our environment. We are in the process of building a relationship with 12+ a non-profit organization based in Philadelphia dedicated to empowering students from underserved communities to achieve college access and completion. We continue to discover new philanthropic opportunities and gorge new partnerships. Eventually, our goal is to work with large and established organizations such as WWF as well as organizations advocating for social equality.
TM: If you could hand pick one “celebrity” or famous figure to represent your brand, who would it be?
B.E.S: One of our favorite celebrities for a while has been Lupe Fiasco. In fact, the initial inspiration of a few upcoming PANYC State designs has come from Lupe Fiasco songs. He is just honest in his personal life and in his music. Lupe’s music embodies conscious hip hop, and I guess you could say PANYC State designs “conscious apparel.” Lupe advocates for the greater good, and that is what we are about at PANYC State.
TM: Great choice. What do you hope to get accomplished in the next few years?
B.E.S: We want to continue to spread the PANYC State movement and build our audience around the world. In addition we are looking to sell in domestic and international brick and mortar boutiques as well as more online marketplaces featuring up and coming and established independent streetwear brands. We are already selling at soletron.com, dropcent.com, dopehut.com, ustrendy.com, and wardrobeave.com.