[Brand of the Month] February – Chilly-O

For our second Brand of the Month, we feature Chilly-O stationed down in Atlanta. Chilly-O is a highly respected brand in the Dirty South but the owner is originally from Pittsburgh, in the Beltzhoover area. Chilly-O may be a streetwear brand but has made its mark in the game by combining creative art and action sports to make dope conceptual ideas. Their “ATLien” design as been seen well outside of the Atlanta area backed by smart guerrilla marketing tactics. Check out the below interview to learn a bit more about Chilly-O

Tell me about Chilly-O. When did it all begin? Who are the key figures in the company?

We recently reached our 6th Year Anniversary in the clothing business, which a blessing. We actually have “burn” that we can take an introspective look and determine what contributions and added value that we brought to the street fashion plane. We are a very established brand based in Atlanta, GA and we are proud to bring the sub-culture of Atlanta to the forefront of the years. We call our selves the dichotomous brand triggered by emotion, color, height, shapes, and art. Why? Because to us, this is a key variable in our creativity that we consistently attempt to balance.  We like to think that many or our concepts our unique to our own lane. If though I’m a native ATLien, my formative years we’re actually in Jenesis Magazine’s hometown of Pittsburgh. I grew up in the Southside area better know as Beltzhoover.  I made a choice to leave because they neighborhood was getting infested with gangs, and found my self at and adolescent stage going down the wrong route because of environmental factors. However, if you look at lot of our sensibilities, they are rooted around action sports culture, which is the go to cool variable in modern streetwear. However, little to people knows that I first learned how to jump a BMX and skate in the town of Beltzhoover. My peers were notables such as Butter from Dr. Dre’s camp and Kevin Taylor of Zoo York skate who both rode BMX and Skated. So when it comes to the action sports influence you see so often in our living, it has tenure and genuine roots and it’s always been apart of the Black Community. Chilly-O compromises of my self Omar Mitchell aka Chilly-O, Vice President Cee and graffiti artist Icon of Notorious INK, The Mighty Shirt Kings crew, 156 Crew.

We began in 2005, we hand painted tee shirts, which quickly progressed to screen printed tees on the backs of many notable figures in music, art, dance, action sports and the community.

What makes Chilly-O different from other streetwear brands?

Streetwear to us is basically the progression of urban/hip-hop fashion that has evolved because of multicultural influences, rebellion and the need to express. So our roots are in urban core concepts first and foremost. We preserve the core ideals of made urban fashion accepted the first go around. We study brands like Madness, We are World, Karl Kani, Fubu, Wiliwear, Triple 5 Soul, Methods NYC, Rowdy Clothing real core urban brands and pay homage to that thought process. Also, we look to see where areas of development are underserved in streetwear and actions sports and create the expression of culture where no one else would. Take for example; we have an all African American BMX Team. No one has that. We were the first to promote Black Kids on Bikes in media such as Vice, Antenna, Transworld media. Especially when the trend was skate. We influenced BMX to streetwear in a very cool way, which is causing media to rethink the concept of urban action sports. We have had talks with Transworld media and they are unconditionally taking steps to expose more African American, Asian and Latin BMX riders in the traditional Anglo driven sport. This to me is a major hurdle that has been invisible in the sport until recently.

Also, we have an informative process of educating our consumer to our lifestyle. It’s very acceptable to say …we are a lifestyle brand.  My question is …Ok, “So why should we care?” That is the simple premise that drives us. Why should you care about the Chilly-O lifestyle?  Because we put constant information out to make sure our people know what they are involved in.

How would you describe your personal style?

Comfortability with a rebellious flair, I’m mainly a function t-shirt, jeans and sneaker kind of guy. Why …because in my former career working in human services for 12 years, I always had to wear a restrictive suit and tie. A Tee, Jeans and Sneaks are the ultimate “Fuck You” to fine men’s suits. Most of my garbs these days are action sports inspired and functional. I want to stay here for awhile. In the beginning of Chilly-O we were Glam Hood, which we quickly evolved from.

Since your first collection launched, what would you say has improved the most?

I would say we just dialed in on the beauty of the graphic tee through simplicity and cleanliness. The graphic tee will always be the back bone to street fashion, we are graffiti artist. With fashion going premium contemporary, American and back to mall brands. We will never forget the importance of expressing art graphically. So our thinking is “how do we get this kid to wear a graphically inclined t-shirt in an era of minimalism?”

Describe the inspiration your current collection. Upcoming collection?

Our current collection is entitled the New Native City. There is so much flack surrounding titles in this game. Our streetwear, street fashion, urban fashion, hip hop etc so our take is we are city. We are dwellers of the city, we live, breathe, and eat in a city scope. We are Natives of the City. So these current collections were about the maintaining, preserving, and the renewal of Urban culture. The word “Urban” is often view negatively in street fashion because it is associated with Black. But if you take an intrinsic look at street wear over the past 5 years it has been all about “Urban” shit. Biggie on tee, Urban slang on a Tee “Urban.” So this collection was about renewing the image of the urban dweller. The next collection will be dedicated to my father’s era, and we are calling the movement, “The Cool Poppa Stoppa.” Details will unveil in 2012.

What are some of your favorite products that you have created?

To date, the iconic ATLien tee and cap. The cap was produced by Flat Fitty, really impressed with their quality. We had a wool shell with a satin lining in limited quantities. The design concept was based off an I Love ATL model which evolved in our most popular design today. Also, we used to have these blinged-out Chilly-O key chains, we called them keys to the city, and our people couldn’t get enough of those.

How do you market your brand?

We still mostly use guerilla style marketing, our most effective strategy. Initially the brand was word of mouth and then we had the opportunity to do advance marketing with magazines. Currently, direct contact via the Internet has been a value jewel, we don’t de-humanize our brand. Our people feel what we feel and vice versa. As we grow, we will reach back outside of Atlanta, but it has been critical and integral part of our success to stamp Atlanta first, and let the world know that we do have viable culture here besides what you see on BET.

Who are some of your biggest music influences? What’s on your iPod right now?

Music has been an incomprehensible animal at times for me, it’s so much. Lately, I have been appreciating the nostalgia in music. I have been revisiting sounds that I was biased towards as kid, i.e. classic rock, latin music, drum and bass etc. I’ve been getting a kick out of moombathon. As far as hip hop, starting to like the direction it’s going in, cats are more about purpose, reality and cause. I have loved the psychedelic hip hop instrumentals lately. Some times silence is music of choice.

Where can your products be purchased?

www.chillyo.com, WISH ATL, One Up Skate, Ginza, Attach, Dr. Denim, Time 2 Shine BMX, Amazon.com

What can we expect from Chilly-O? Any upcoming special projects?  Collaborations?

We are looking to work with brands, Rep Ja, Quintin, Beat Lab, Adidas, Red Bull and please check for our BMX Team on RIDEbmx.com. I rather show action then prophesize. Working with JENESIS magazine has been a major plus for us, JENESIS stays on the pulse and its great energy coming from the Pittsburgh area that’s needs to be placed in high regard.

Check out Chilly-O’s brand, shop, and lifestyle features at http://www.chillyo.com

Written by Thomas Agnew