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Two celebrity-backed labels rise from North County

Actors Scott Eastwood and Mark Wahlberg are making their mark in the apparel industry with Made Here and Municipal — both founded right here in San Diego

Dane Chapin and Scott Eastwood in front of a wall of colorful spools of string
Image Credits Made Here Product Shot: photo by Kai Diaz, All other Made Here Photography by Jesse Natale, J North Productions, Municipal: Photography by AJ Voelpel

Chances are that as you read this right now, you’re dressed a lot differently than you were last September. If there’s one thing pandemic life has reinforced for a lot of us, it’s that we like to be comfortable. Sure, we liked it before, but it’s reached new levels in the past six months. If you’re one for numbers, consider this: shares of activewear brand Lululemon soared nearly 280 percent from March to August 2020. Our daily wardrobe has likely changed forever. 

This unique time has also turned a lot more attention toward home, both literally and figuratively. And while pride in American workmanship isn’t a novel concept, supporting domestic jobs has taken on a new meaning in the COVID-19 era. One Encinitas-based brand has made it their business (literally) to embrace both the renewed love for the staples that make up our wardrobe and the people who make them, and with celebrity clout to boot.

Scott Eastwood

For Made Here founders Scott Eastwood and Dane Chapin, celebrating the American worker and showcasing American-made products was at the core of their company concept from day one. Friends for several years, the Hollywood star and local entrepreneur teamed up with a shared vision to create a brand that features the highest quality goods and embodies a sense of national pride. “We wanted to have something that looked quintessentially American,” says Chapin. So, they began with the items that are at the core of every closet: T-shirts, socks, underwear, and hats. “Two percent of the apparel that Americans wear is made domestically,” Chapin continues. “So, it’s been an industry that’s gone through huge shrinkage. There are plenty of goods that are made here that we could slap a label on, but we thought it made a huge statement by making something that’s not made here much anymore and demonstrating the quality of goods that the American worker can make.”

“We just want to open people’s eyes to the abilities of Americans to make anything and everything”

Dane Chapin, Made Here

Prior to their soft launch in September 2019, Chapin and Eastwood worked tirelessly to develop their brand’s image, source manufacturing partners, and create the styles that make up Made Here. What is arguably as much of a passion project as a business venture for the partners means they’re intimately involved in every aspect of the company, down to how each piece fits. “Simple things that you take for granted — they’re not made here. So, to get that right… takes time. We were going back to the drawing board on a lot of these things,” says Eastwood. 

“I think what Scott and I are learning together is that apparel is hard,” adds Chapin. “There are a lot of details to it. I have a lot of experience in branding and marketing, but apparel brings a whole additional layer to it. We’ve surrounded ourselves with really smart people in the space and we have our own instincts, and Scott has his style and we merge that every day as we develop our goods.”

Designs by Made Here
Designs by Made Here

Made Here products may be limited to clothing for now, but both Chapin and Eastwood are quick to attest that this is only where their story begins. “We have plans to do other things as well. This is our entry to the market,” says Eastwood. “We have a pretty audacious vision for this. It goes well beyond apparel,” echoes Chapin, whose broad entrepreneurial credits include game company Usaopoly, the Bindle Bottle water bottle (named one of Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2018), and chairman of development company Zephyr. 

Eastwood, whose recent Afghan war film The Outpost was released in July to broad critical acclaim, is putting his filmmaking skills to work at Made Here through an ongoing video series titled In a Day, all centering on domestic topics, which can be viewed on the company’s website.  “There’s a ton of subject matter out there that we’re all interested in,” he says. The first episode, which debuted in May, features Eastwood’s visit to the
USS Nimitz. “It’s just fun to tell the story and learn about it, and if we do it right, it will reinforce what we’re doing as a brand,” says Chapin.

Currently available exclusively online, Chapin says Made Here is in talks to ink a partnership that will make the brand available on Amazon in addition to the company’s own website, potentially to debut as early as this month.

Scott Eastwood
Scott Eastwood

The coronavirus proved powerless when it came to the successful launch of another local celeb-founded clothing brand. If you’re among the
15.7 million Instagram followers of A-list actor Mark Wahlberg, you’ve likely seen him plugging his latest venture, Municipal, even prior to its official debut on July 15. The Carlsbad-based “sport utility gear” apparel company is a project of a different kind from Wahlberg and longtime business partner, producer Stephen Levinson (“Lev,” to his friends). Responsible for some of TV’s biggest blockbusters like Entourage and Boardwalk Empire and co-founders of production company Unrealistic Ideas, the pair set out to create a functional, versatile clothing brand that represented their lifestyle. They teamed up with former Callaway Golf exec Harry Arnett to bring their concept to reality.

Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson outside
Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson

“Lev, Mark, and I landed in the same space, which was that all the brands that we liked, for one reason or another, had some sort of limitation to them, and we would talk about how we would all have to curate pretty intensely to have the types of things that we would wear every day in this life that we were all living,” remembers Arnett. “Mark is doing something different about every 30 minutes. He’s working out hard, he’s taking meetings, he’s playing with his kids, he’s making an appearance, and he doesn’t want to change clothes 50 times while he’s doing it, and Lev is the exact same way.”

Designs by Municipal
Designs by Municipal

“We talked about this opportunity for this different kind of brand that didn’t exist,” Arnett continues, who says it fell somewhere near “athleisure,” but they couldn’t stand that term. “We didn’t feel like that really described what we were talking about. It was more about cool, versatile, comfort-above-all-else, and things that were enduring, lasting, really counter to fast fashion — it was like a giant middle finger to fashion and embracing things that typically wouldn’t be embraced by an aspirational brand. In abstract, that became sport utility gear, which is: the most versatile, stylish, comfortable things you wear 99 percent of the time. I love the stuff that we make that looks kind of mean and rugged, but you also happen to know that you’re the most comfortable person in the room.”

It’s a concept that’s certainly resonated. Many of the items, which include tees, polos, sweatshirts, shorts, and other workout-inspired clothing, flew out the virtual door, and Arnett says 20 percent of their customers have already been repeat buyers in the brief period since Municipal’s site went live. Within 24 hours of Wahlberg posting about the polo, it was sold out. “But, that’s not really a great consumer experience,” says Arnett. “It’s by design that we want him to love it and post about it, but not by design to run out of it.” Part of that, of course, is simply the “Mark Wahlberg effect” given his massive following, but it’s also partly attributable to supply chain issues resulting from the pandemic, which will be remedied as the company forges ahead. Upcoming styles are teased on the site, which Arnett assures will be delivered as promised. Primarily geared toward men currently, the brand plans to add women’s styles in 2021.

Municipal CEO Harry Arnett
Municipal CEO
Harry Arnett

Even with such tremendous runaway success, the team at Municipal have made it their priority from the beginning to ensure they’re part of the community, and in meaningful ways. According to Arnett, the company has plans to launch its Municipal Community Heroes program imminently, which will offer a permanent discount on Municipal products for military, first responders, and medical workers. 

So yes, our wardrobe has changed forever, but also for good. madeherebrand.com, municipal.com


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