Pittsburgh Streetwear Companies Gain Success by Getting Active in the Community / by Alex Young

Clothing Brands Good Sports and Reviving Real Promote Local Culture

 Owners of Good Sports Jake Sullivan and Steven Crump | photograph by Alex Young

Owners of Good Sports Jake Sullivan and Steven Crump | photograph by Alex Young

In 2011, Jake Sullivan walked into a local Pittsburgh clothing store called Timebomb. He bought powder blue Wiz Khalifa Taylor Gang Bombay Gin Cup shirts and sold them on eBay.

His enjoyment of clothing turned into a budding apparel and media company in 2015 that he operates with Steven Crump.

At the Make Sure You Have Fun Mixed Threads clothing fair in 2017, Crump and Sullivan were selling their own brand Good Sports. Even cooler, the experience came full circle because Ryan Brown, the designer of the Gin Cup shirt that Sullivan had bought years earlier, hosted the local streetwear market. 

People could have “Pittsburgh clothes for the [whole] year if you look into it,” Sullivan said.

Another local apparel brand that was at the Mixed Threads market was Reviving Real.

Now, Good Sports, Sports for short, and Reviving Real are examples of an emerging streetwear culture in the city

“To have a brand you have to have people know the feeling. You want to make it have a meaning,” Crump said.

I asked if either of the Good Sports partners skates because that’s the feeling I got looking at their collections, like the latest Exordium. Turns out, only Crump skates, but the love for culture grew from the two’s fondness of Nike SB sneakers back in seventh grade, P-ROD 2 specifically. That’s how they conceptualized “how everything ties together, the shoes, the clothes, the music,” Crump said.

For Mike Caraballo, the founder of Reviving Real, his company succeeds because “a lot of us share a genuine love for what we are pursuing, as well as the culture of the city,” he said.

Sports try to support the culture too with a goal to “get more involved.” The 23-year-old Bethel Park and Wexford natives in Crump and Sullivan conduct an interview series called Pittsburgh Culture showing the energy coming out of the creative scene and “the ones behind it all.” Musician Linwood and thrift store owner and barber Zed have segments.

Caraballo noted clothing brands in Pittsburgh aim to help communities of local artists. They “are doing the most to not only serve the people with quality products but continue to help push the culture and arts here in the city,” he said.

 Shop412 socks via  @shop412's  Instagram

Shop412 socks via @shop412's Instagram

Aaron and Christian Kinkela, the brothers who operate the legendary Pittsburgh lifestyle label named after the city's 412 area code, said, "A lot of what we do is supporting the local economy with anything whether it's local seamstresses or local printers. A lot of things happen right here. That's another part of giving back and doing what you can to keep the money in this town."

A local online publication and conversation series called Style412 ran an audit on Pittsburgh’s fashion scene throughout 2016 and 2017. Style412 founder Elysia Panda mentioned authenticity attracts customers to a local business.

“Consumers of this generation are placing value on immediacy, practicality, authenticity and the ‘small shop’ experience,” Panda said.

 Reviving Real's "Vol. 3" mixtape | cover art by Dakarai Akil

Reviving Real's "Vol. 3" mixtape | cover art by Dakarai Akil

With every clothing collection that Reviving Real releases, a music mixtape with highlights from ‘Burgh rappers, musicians and cover art by a visual artist accompanies each release. “We like to curate sounds from artist around the city that we see working hard and putting that time and effort into their craft,” Caraballo said. “Vol. 3” of Reviving Real’s music compilation releases on April 20, along with a spring collection.

Additionally, people have been receptive to Sports, obviously, we love our teams, but the Good Sports kind message and general aesthetic promote quality. Crump remembers local rapper Mars Jackson being the first notable person to wear their clothes. InnerviewQ has also been seen wearing Sports.

Part of creating a clothing label is selling a lifestyle and that’s what Good Sports does with their Pittsburgh Culture series and that’s what Reviving Real does with their showcase mixtape. “The artists here can see what everyone else is doing and create connections with fellow artist,” Carabllo said.

 Good Sports Track Pants part of the Exordium Collection | photograph by Alex Young

Good Sports Track Pants part of the Exordium Collection | photograph by Alex Young

“We are seeing an emergence of online lifestyle brands (versus the traditional boutique), which is definitely something new to our city,” Style412’s Panda said.

The Sports’lifestyle clothing, which is sold online at www.goodsportspgh.com and at One Up Skate Shop in Pittsburgh’s Southside, isn’t trying to be in your face with its simplistic designs.  “A lot of things are just overdone now,” Crump said. He mentioned the We’re Proud long-sleeve shirt comes from looking at old ‘80s and ‘90s Sports Illustrated. Garments like polos and quarter zips highlight the Exordium range. 

With limited quantities in each Sports collection, “we focus on every little detail because they all matter,” Sullivan said. Patience helps them, as the business pays no attention to typical season-by-season collections.

Down the line, Crump and Sullivan hope to grow into a brick and mortar store, much like Shop412's store on the Southside, to build a Pittsburgh foundation.

Sports will produce more clothing when they're ready. "Everything is here it's just how it all gets put together," Crump said.

For anybody looking to enter the game, Shop412 urges people to make "moves to further the product."