Garrett Minniear and Mike Rodela, two Indianapolis natives, have officially made their dreams a reality. Their streetwear boutique, Quality, will be holding its grand opening on July 15th from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pattern talked with the owners beforehand about their goals, streetwear, upcoming trends, and more.
McKenzie Price: Are you guys originally from Indy and how did you meet and get this going?
Mike Rodela: Yes we’re from Indy. We’ve been good friends for probably 14-15 years. We grew up in the skateboarding community, which is small, and so everybody kind of knows everybody. There used to be this old local skate spot in a church parking lot and they would let us put out our little boxes, rails, and stuff like that. So they allowed the local youth in the area to meet up there, and it’d be kind of a safe haven when there wasn’t a park nearby. Garrett and I met there and become friends then. We were like 15-16 years old. Garrett got married a year ago and at his wedding reception we started talking about the idea. We both kind of had it in our minds, but just as a dream. I would say that was the beginning point. He texts me on his honeymoon and he simply says, “Were you being serious about wanting to get together and open a boutique?” And I said, “Hell yeah, man, dead serious.” So from there it kept growing.
MP: What about the name Quality. How did that start?
Garrett Minniear: Growing up interested in clothing in the Midwest is kind of difficult. That clothing is majorly west coast or east coast, right? So for the longest time a lot of shopping and access to those kind of products is online only. So we’re trying to bring the brands that we think are producing the quality product in that kind of streetwear genre and making them available to people locally. Maybe they don’t know about it, are interested in that kind of stuff but have never been able to see it in person, and just bring the products locally where you can feel ‘em, touch ‘em, see ‘em.
MR: The word “quality,” people associate it with something good, you know? If you say, “this has quality,” no matter what you’re talking about, it’s automatically assumed that it has good quality, not bad. As I grew up, I was into sneakers and stuff with brand names, but growing up playing basketball and skateboarding, I’d be blowin’ out shoes like crazy. So what makes one pair of sneakers last longer? What makes a pair of denim jeans last longer? It was the quality of the product that would separate it from the others. It also just kind of goes with the mindset “quality over quantity.” I’d rather have one really nice thing, even though it might cost as much as 10 different things.
MP: Is there a certain item of clothing you want to be known for?
GM: I think we’ve tailored towards the streetwear experience. And we try to keep ourselves out of the whole, “come here for the newest shoe,” or newest whatever brand is, but rather creating the whole package and streetwear experience. That’s the goal.
MR: I don’t know that I would want to be known for any one specific piece, or one shoe, or one brand even.
MP: In terms of clothing, what’s your philosophy?
GM: Clothing is an expression of who you are. Depending on your outfit, it could be the vibe or how you’re feeling that day, an outfit can put your mood out without you actually even saying anything. So I think words are just another way to speak to people, and put good energy out or whatever it may be.
MR: I agree with that 100 percent.
MP: So for the Quality label then, what’s your philosophy?
MR: Help our clients express themselves.
GM: Very much along the lines of that minimalist-essential vibe. Making a local brand that can not only collaborate with people in the community, but also bringing a quality product to the community. I think it’s important to have both of those things.
MP: Because there aren’t a lot of other menswear boutiques around here, especially of the streetwear genre, what do you think will set you guys apart from the other local brands?
MR: I think our passion is just going to come through. I think it comes through in our store. If someone wants to come in and talk to us, our passion for what we’re doing is gonna help us set us apart. I’m constantly looking through sneaker blogs and fashion blogs, trying to stay up to date on all that stuff, so of course the knowledge of the industry. I think that’s definitely going to help to set us apart from the competition.
GM: Even if this business wasn’t here on a daily basis, we would still be following the shoes and clothes that are coming out. So when you compound that with having a streetwear business, you have that passion and knowledge. And we can give that to other people now that we have a retail storefront that we’re selling that stuff in. We can bring that to other people and share it with them, which I think sets us above somebody who has the retail business and is just selling clothes and only wants to make the money.
MR: I feel like the kid who is lucky enough to own his own toy store, you know what I mean? I guess to put it that way, but obviously on a much bigger scale.
GM: Like every time something comes in and we’re opening the boxes, we’re just as excited to see the stuff as the customer who’s coming in looking for it, which is cool. To come in everyday and be excited and enjoy it and being doing it with a guy who I’ve known for 15 years. It’s a dream for sure.
MR: Everything we have in the store has been hand-picked by Garrett and I. We’ve gone through catalogs and we sit down like, “Hey what do you think about this?” “You know that’s cool, but this one’s a little bit better.” We don’t have a buyer, everything is done by Garrett and me.
MP: What brands do you house?
MR: Other than our own, we have Represent, Premium, Dope Couture, Zanerobe, Publish, Champion. For footwear we have New Balance, Redwing, Saucony, Karhu, Represent also makes footwear. They’re doing really awesome stuff with their Chelsea boots for the fall.
MP: How important is it to have a relationship with your customers locally?
MR: It’s very important. A customer that comes in and purchases one of our Quality branded products or even purchases anything from our store, they’re supporting our business and they’re helping to support our livelihood, which means a lot to us personally. You’re willing to support us, we’re going to support you.
GM: I think one of the goals too is to build a community of people, like a close knit community of people. It’s not just a monetary thing. You know, we’re not opening this store as a “get rich quick” plan. It’s what we’re truly passionate about. Finding people here in this area who are also passionate who can bring their ideas, opinions, and feedback so that we have a whole community of people who support this movement, especially in this area.
MP: On that topic then, are you guys going to be housing other local brands?
GM: If there’s a local brand that produces to the level that we both think is acceptable to sell, 100 percent. A lot of the brands, obviously at this point, we’re carrying are not a local brand. It’s the brands that we know and are confident in. At a point where we do find local brands that have that same confidence, then we’ll have a conversation about it. But yes I’d be open to the idea.
MR: Absolutely. And all brands start off as local brands, so I think he hit it right on the head. If it’s local or known and we feel that the product represents us in a way, and we also believe in that product and that our customers will also be able to take that from it and be psyched on it, then we’re gonna roll with it.
MP: What are your goals in terms of changing the idea of fashion in Indy?
GM: I think the Midwest, especially here in Indianapolis, it’s kind of an untapped market for people, especially dudes, to be into their clothes and pay attention to putting stuff together and be fashion conscious. So I think to set an example, Mike and I will be out here to bring the products, to make them available, to wear the products, and show people how we put stuff together with social media like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, whatever. Not only putting new stuff that we have on those social media sites, but putting outfits together and showing people how things can be put together and to push everyone to create it and personalize it themselves. Giving them a base line to start from that they can expand off of that and make it whatever they want.
MR: Also we’ve been talking about the Midwest and how it’s a common stereotype that we’re behind, which you know, has been true. Now with social media and just the Internet in general, there’s really no reason for us to be behind on any types of trends, especially fashion, music, and anything like that. It’s a lot easier to kind of follow a certain trend that you know is popular. Something that is somewhat of a status symbol like a Nike shirt’s gonna have the big Nike swoosh, like oh okay, I know that the Nike is not a cheap product, it’s a brand name. But we’re here to show people that are into that already, or maybe just getting into it or don’t know anything about it, to educate them that there’s a lot more to this than just what you think.
GM: I think one other thing too is like with sneaker boutiques, when you get generalized as one, a lot of those are associated to a pair of Jordans, with the matching Jordan shorts and the t-shirt. There’s a lot more to it than just the outfit that was made by Nike, Jordan brand, or whatever to go with that pair of shoes and making people realize that.
MR: And there’s nothing wrong with NIke or those brands…
GM: But those outfits are no good.
MR: Right, like the one you’re talking about with the all green outfit, like yeah, you’re matching, but sometimes people will say, “You dressed off the mannequin.” Somebody at a Finish Line or Foot Locker, a big chain retailer, trained their employees to think this is how you outfit the mannequin, with the newest product. Garrett and I just having the opportunity to just go with what we think is cool, what we think other people will think is cool, is a great one.
MP: Do you have your own clothing now or will you?
MR: At first we did the hats and then some t-shirts. Going forward, we’re going to continue to add to that as well. Eventually, we’ll release our own collection.
MP: What are some trends that you think will be popping up in clothes and shoes this fall?
GM: Chelsea boots, which I don’t know if it’s necessarily true, but I think you’re gonna see that trend continue to evolve. Men’s Chelsea boots — see some new, different variations to the boots. I don’t know that there’s necessarily a new trend like some kind of secret, but especially fall, destroyed denim, layers. Scoop tee, a high low tee under shirts and sweaters, sweatshirts. Fall is personally my favorite time to dress, to be able to layer those pieces and different stuff together and have a temperature that’s suitable to do it, I love it.
MR: It helps in the Midwest that fall, in my opinion, is the most pleasant time.
MP: Any change in sneakers?
MR: I think we’ll continue to see a rise in, I’ll just go ahead and say it, non-Nike brands. They’ll continue to be successful, but a lot of other brands have really made a name for themselves in the “lifestyle” world. Streetwear, where the sneakers not as much performance driven, but are to be worn with a pair of jeans a t-shirt to walk around in, go out to eat, go to the bar, whatever. I think we’ll also see some other footwear companies that have yet to delve into that category of lifestyle, classic, or retro. We’ll see them sort of resurrecting themselves, even though they might have a category in performance. For example, there’s a company Diadora, they’re well-known for their soccer cleats. Well two years ago now, they introduced their Heritage line in the U.S., which is mostly classic running shoes and they’ve become extremely popular. So I think we’ll continue to see that and then also a trend that I see worn is not just the look, but actually the comfort. When I put on a pair of shoes, I wanna be comfortable in them. I want to find that happy medium, something that looks really good, but is also very comfortable.
MP: With the opening happening now, what is next?
GM: I think we’ll continue to expand our own product line and bring new stuff in to pull people in. Expand our own house line.
MR: Just increase inventory. Add to our website, we’ll have a blog on there, to grow that and just working on new ideas. As I get more into fashion, I want to actually find out what the process is. I wanna learn how to sew, source fabrics, to where we can actually do that on our own on a little bit larger of a scale.
MP: Will you ever branch out into womenswear?
GM: Some of our footwear orders, which haven’t arrived yet, but we have women’s footwear already. With the streetwear stuff, a lot of that also is more unisex. With things not being crazy branded and being just kind of the essential pieces, a lot of it is crossover. But yes, the goal is we will have women’s footwear, and then as we continue to evolve, either introduce more unisex or get women to consider unisex items or introduce women’s wear. A lot of the brands we have also have women’s lines currently. Just a matter of time before we expand.
MR: So our girlfriends or wives don’t have to steal our clothes and stuff all the time.
MP: Is the main purpose just streetwear or will you do higher functioning clothing?
GM: I think our goal is to just blur the lines and not necessarily pigeonhole yourself into a category. Why not mix the high fashion with the street fashion? Or the grunge look, which is so popular right now, with a pair of Chelsea boots? Just trying to kind of expand people’s minds out of what is acceptable, like, “Oh, you can’t wear those colors together. That’s a fashion faux pas.” Who gives a fuck? Do whatever you want. Hopefully make people comfortable.
MR: When I think of streetwear, I’m sure there’s some definition, but streetwear is everything. It’s whatever you’re wearing. A suit could be considered streetwear, you know what I’m saying? Throw a pair of sneakers on with a suit.
GM: Or how often you see a guy throw a jacket or blazer over an outfit that you wouldn’t consider to be a dressier outfit, but just kind of a way to spice things up.
MR: Streetwear influences high-end, high-end influences streetwear. That’s a positive way to say it. Some people would say they bite ideas from one another, but what came first, the chicken or the egg? We’re all influenced by some other thing. We all get inspiration from different things, so I think that’s only common or only bound to happen for those streetwear brands to influence the high-end designer brands and vice versa.
Photos by Aubrey Smith