If you found yourself donning a trucker or newsboy cap in 2004, you’re probably already familiar with Brixton. The southern California-based apparel brand that was founded in the same year (named after the Clash’s song “The Guns of Brixton’’) was first put on the map by its headwear and partnerships with skate and surf companies Active Rideshop and Surf Ride.
After expanding into flannel, jackets, and other apparel and accessories, Brixton was eventually acquired by Altamont Capital partners in 2014 with other big names in the skate and surf industry, like Billabong’s surf and Dakine’s windsurfing brands.
The strictly e-commerce and wholesale-based business opted for a refresh seventeen years into its existence with the creation of brick-and-mortar locations as well as a complete rethinking of its product line. In September 2020, Brixton relaunched its website, introducing new lines that include a “premium” brand utilizing premium fabrics.
Brixton’s first physical location was opened as a “test store” in Sydney, Australia, in 2019, and its success was followed by the opening of a store in its hometown of Oceanside, California. Two more stores came online in skate capital Encinitas and Long Beach, respectively, in 2020 and 2021.
“I always liked the fact that the brand felt like Southern California, but it didn’t feel like a surf brand or a skate brand,” CEO Raphael Peck told San Diego Magazine. “It felt like an Americana lifestyle brand. I love that differentiation, that toughness, that durability it had. There was a tremendous opportunity to get back to our roots, and I thought, ‘What does the physical manifestation of our brand look and feel like?’”
Peck has been looking for new ways to develop the brand, and along with finding a way to physically embody the Brixton brand, the brand itself has gone through its own evolution.
A new line called Crossover will be geared toward men’s technical wear. Another label, Reserve, is an elevated version of the brand’s Americana image (further underlined by key pieces of the line being crafted in the US).
Brixton’s increasing interest in sustainability has led to the potential use of recycled fibers and hemp in its products. Select hats that include wool meet the Responsible Wool Standard for sustainability.
Brixton hats have been spotted on celebrities like Katie Holmes, Gigi Hadid, and Kaia Gerber, but the brand has pursued more formal partnerships as of late. The company collaborated with the Fender guitar company as well as the estate of Joe Strummer from the Clash, to whom the company owes its namesake.
The high-profile collaborations continue a trend of brand partnerships in the 2020s and have helped aid Brixton’s evolution from a purely skate and surf culture brand to a go-to for the casually fashion-conscious.
In addition to what Peck calls “friendly unions,” the company has further and multipronged plans for growth. Headwear still accounts for half of Brixton’s entire sales, split evenly between men’s and women’s fashion. On the apparel side, only 20 percent of sales are women’s fashion.
“But half of the consumers who visit our web site are women,” Peck told WWD. Focusing on that conversion will be a priority for the company, with additional emphasis on marketing to that segment.
If it seems like the guns of Brixton are firing on all fronts, that’s exactly the case. Perk says that there is no benefit to not growing both its wholesale partnerships with companies like Zumiez, Tilly’s, and Nordstrom as well as its direct-to-consumer plans. While stores continue popping up on the West Coast, the CEO sees opportunities to continue to grow its wholesale channel along the East Coast.
The outlook is good regardless of whether you’ve been a Brixton ride-or-die since 2004 or have only just discovered the brand. The company is determined to make sure they’re well-represented in the closets of both devoted skaters and the wanderlust-prone from here on out.
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