Knowing the target market is the key to a great apparel line. Who do you envision wearing your clothes? How do you get in touch with that person to know what they really want? For Chris Moak, owner and designer of High Top Society Co., it was pretty easy. That’s because Chris is his market. At only 21 years old, he already has his own apparel brand, 11 thousand Instagram followers and a customer base that reaches as far as Australia.
High Top Society Co. is an urban inspired apparel brand. Its influences draw from skinned knee skater culture, music heard in basements while sipping a cheap local brew, and memories fueled by exploring the city at 3am. The style seamlessly blends hip-hop and skate culture. It’s a little gritty, comfortably edgy and truly honest.
Chris officially started High Top Society Co. during his freshman year of college at Ball State, but he’s been designing clothing since high school. He would see friends in the hallways repping his brand, then strangers around town who didn’t even know him. His peers made up his core customer base, which then expanded into his college peers and on from there.
“I’ve always loved making stuff,” says Chris. “I like to see people I don’t know wearing my clothes and enjoying the movement.”
Chris has always been style conscious, with a self-admitted shoe obsession and a need to dress in a way that expresses his personality. He’s also gotten enjoyment from buying different clothes and testing out apparel brands, which then morphed into the idea of founding his own. He used his graphic design major to design the clothes and locally print his first line. As he continually watched his clothes sell out as his audience expanded, Chris decided to grow his company.
He now has his operations based out of Chicago, where photo shoots, product shots, inventory and distribution take place.
“I used to do it myself but I got too busy with school. So now I outsource to other companies,” says Chris. “But I watch them closely. I don’t do anything unless I do it the best way possible.”
In order to keep to this standard, Chris is focusing on producing a higher quality garment. Instead of dropping full lines in fall and spring, he’s transitioning to releasing a product every month to ensure he gets things perfect. His new plan will keep a steady flow of new inventory for his customers. The clothing will also feature more complex printing, allowing for additional colors and intricate designs.
Chris sees the future of his line expanding to the coasts and internationally. He puts a large amount attention into marketing, which he deems as one of the principle reasons for his success.
“Marketing is your biggest tool. If you’re not marketing, you won’t make enough sales to actually run your business,” says Chris.
The majority of his outreach is via Instagram, where he puts photos from shoots on view for his steadily growing follower base. High Top Society Co. also participates in fashion shows, RAW events and local EDM festivals. These platforms allow the company to sell the clothing while promoting local models, artists and musicians.
High Top Society aims to develop a sense of community, one that’s modest but full of talent. They showcase those talents by running the brand through music, skaters and artists in the area, encompassing their culture and promoting a path of positivity.
“If you’re starting a company you have to keep consistent and keep a clear positive image,” says Chris. “Don’t stray from the path you set for yourself. Never forget that.”
Photo Credit: HTSC Photographers