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Tiffany Montgomery
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Fyasko growing with art-driven T's and more

By Tiffany Montgomery
February 18, 2009 7:39 AM

I finally got a chance to meet some of the team behind Fyasko, a small, up-and-coming brand that I have heard about from a few retailers.

Bobby Abdel at Jack's Surfboards told me about Fyasko when he and I were walking through Jack's new Irvine store. Bobby pointed out the large selection of Fyasko's art driven T-shirts, and said the shirts do "very, very" well with the kids.

At Agenda, I talked with Mike Murphy, part-owner of the brand who is also the sales rep. Mike and his partner, who works in the food industry, have grown the brand slowly over the past five years with private funds. Like many brands before them, Fyasko started in a garage and is now in its fourth warehouse. Mike took no commission for two years, and managed a restaurant on the side.

While Fyasko is known for its colorful T-shirts, it also makes cut-and-sew pieces including pants, wovens, shorts, boardshorts and jackets.

Sales grew 26 percent last year, and key accounts include Jack's, Active, Identity Board Shop, Antiapparel.com, Urban Outfitters, and PacSun.

I asked Eric Lane, a buyer at Identity Boardshop, how Fyasko does in the shop.

"We originally brought in Fyasko because (Mike Murphy) and I had a common friend, but it soon proved itself in the store," Eric said. "It's not something that does huge numbers, but it adds to the diversity of the shop. We mostly carry T's, but occasionally carry limited cut-andsew. The T-shirts are very art driven as opposed to some of the 'majors (brands),' which tend to work logos into their stuff.

"I think that's appealing and comforting in some situations to the customers. They don't have to worry about being labeled this guy or that for wearing a cool shirt. I think Fyasko is one of those companies that you can't put your finger on exactly what demographic would be the ideal customer for them. Having said all that, we look forward to supporting them and like rooting for the occasional underdog."

Mike said retailers have been supportive of Fyasko through its early years, especially because the brand only does two shipments a year.

With PacSun, Mike said Fyasko worked with the retailer on the 50 doors that would carry Fyasko to protect core accounts. PacSun's spring order included hoodies, a short and five T's.

"It's been good," Mike said. "We've protected our best stores. ... And they pay their bills on time."

Fyasko does have some international distribution in place, including in Japan, Germany and France and was close to a distribution deal in Norway when we talked.

Fyasko shoesAt Agenda, Fyasko was also showing a shoe that it developed with a friend, which had received strong interest from some key retailers, Mike said.

"We'll produce some, but keep it tight and test it out," Mike said.


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