The TRUE x SAVS pop up shop will be open from Black Friday starting at 11 AM until Sunday, December 7th — the grand opening event will be at 11 AM this Black Friday. We caught up with Mike Liwanag to get some insight, history, and inspiration behind the SAVS line…
When was SAVS established and did you ever envision its current success?
I’ve been working in the apparel industry for years, but the SAVS Brand was established in May of 2012. I don’t know if I would call the state of our brand a success yet, however I didn’t expect to have the support of as many people as we do at this point. It’s humbling.
Please explain where the name SAVS came from and a brief story behind its inspiration.
SAVS comes from the old slang term “Sav”(short for savage) which can be defined as one who gets what he wants/needs by any means necessary. The qualities of pride, loyalty, drive and grit perfectly describe what being a Sav is all about. This brand is a visual representation of who we are and how we live. The Savs Chief Skull graphic is the first of many graphics we will use to emulate the essence of our brand. There are multiple reasons why we chose this graphic… It represents pride for knowing who you are… It represents culture… It represents being misunderstood… Most importantly it represents the power that comes from turning something once viewed as a negative, into a positive movement – similar to the term “savage” itself.
What does it mean to be a Bay Area originated clothing company these days, and how do you aim to make yourself stand out from the pack?
These days, there is a clothing company popping up everyday in the Bay. To be able to even sustain business, let alone grow the brand during these last couple of years is something we are very happy with. Because the Bay Area is filled with so many hungry, entrepreneurial people, progression is the only way to survive as a brand. I believe we stand out by not only being creative during the graphic design process, but also in the other areas of business, such as production and marketing. We are always experimenting, looking for new ways to apply design to garment. From printing techniques to laser engraving on fabric, the goal is to bring something new and innovative to market. I also learned early in my career that emotion is the number one factor that keeps customers/supporters engaged with your brand. With that said, every design, every product, every move we make is aimed at making or strengthening an emotional connection with people. “It’s funny how many people “advise” me, saying that all I have to do is have dope designs, and get them on celebrities… I believe there’s a little more to it than that.”
Name some music artists that are key inspirations behind SAVS and the musical vibe you aim to convey with your releases.
The list is all hip-hop, but a little diverse depending on how I’m feeling that day. Pac, “In My Lifetime, Vol.1” Jay-Z, J. Cole, Drake, E-40, 3X Krazy, Kanye, Clipse to name a few. I would say the “stay hungry” vibe is what we try to convey with our releases. Songs that come to mind:
“Good Morning” – Kanye
“What More Can I Say” – Jay-Z
“Before I’m Gone” – J. Cole
Do the clothes make the man/woman, or vice versa?
The man/woman makes the clothes. Definitely. I remember telling a friend when I was a kid that I could make a fit from Mervyn’s look dope.
Plans for the future? Upcoming projects/collaborations?
The plan for the future is simply to evolve. I don’t have goals of being in “X” amount of doors, or making a certain amount of money. It’s more about just sticking around and staying relevant for as long as possible…
We are really excited about this collaboration with TRUE. We are also working on a couple other collaborations with other independent, local brands and a potential release with a certain tech company, but can’t spill the beans until we know for sure.
Shout outs/thank you’s?
Thank you to my family, blood and SAVS. I can’t do what I do without them. Of course, shout out to the TRUE fam for allowing us to do this pop up shop and collab.