As part of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in the fashion industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brent Wheatley of LEOVICI.
LEOVICI is a luxury menswear athletic brand manufactured in the USA by former professional baseball player Brent Wheatley who used his family’s career path as inspiration. Brent’s father, Bob was a co-owner of the golf apparel & lifestyle brand, TravisMathew and Brent’s grandfather William was an original board member at Nike and was actively involved during its formative years.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Fashion and athletics have always been a part of my family. Our roots in the fashion industry are three generations deep. My grandfather was on the original board of Nike and my dad was a co-owner of Travis Mathew. From a young age, I knew that I wanted to continue that tradition by building something of my own.
Obviously, at their conception, both Nike and Travis Mathew were very single sport specific. My goal in starting Leovici was to develop a new type of sportswear brand that harnesses the comfort of sportswear while commanding the respect of designer clothing. The goal being development of luxury-quality, small-batch, versatile pieces that can be worn anywhere, meant to toe the line between fashion and utility. We call it “Athluxury”.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I believe that the niche that we are creating is very unique. It is something that we are still developing, but I know that Athluxury has a bright future. Blending comfort with luxury materials and premium quality is no easy task, but I know that we are on the right track.
I think that the best example of this to date is our Dress Shirt. We developed a fitted pattern typically seen in designer dress shirts but made ours out of a performance material. So, it looks like a traditional cotton dress shirt but it has 4 way stretch, it is machine washable, and it is liquid repellant. You could literally wear our dress shirt to the gym and be completely fine.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Stay the course. Trust the process and trust yourself. I know that sounds cliché but it’s the truth. Personally, I wouldn’t say I have experienced a “burn out”, but I definitely have days where I might be feeling down about not growing fast enough. As with anything in life, when you’re surrounded by competition and working to make a name for yourself it’s about putting your head down and moving forward. Rolling with the punches and getting better each and every day. Brick by brick.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We have implemented a collaboration program in which we team up with professional athletes, let them design their own piece, and donate all profits from that particular piece to the charity of their choice. For example, on April 15th (Jackie Robinson Day), we released our “42” Hoodie collaboration with Seattle Mariners Gold Glove shortstop JP Crawford. All proceeds were sent to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. We have two additional collaborations that will both be released this summer. As we continue to grow, this program will be a major part of our identity and we know that it will bring nothing but goodness into the world.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
My dad grew up in Eugene Oregon and was a huge Oregon Duck fan. His childhood hero was track superstar Steve Prefontaine. Because of Prefontaine’s affiliation with Nike, my dad was able to meet with him a handful of times, and was even able to run with him on the track at Hayward Field. Prefontaine’s most infamous quote was one that my dad instilled in me from a young age. Prefontaine said, “To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift”. To me, the quote serves as a reminder that God gives every person specific gifts, and expects us make the most out of those gifts.
Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?
Over the past couple of years, the push towards fashion/comfort hybrids has been noticeable — men’s dress shoes with athletic soles, jeans with spandex, etc. I think that this movement is going to blow up in the next few years. There is a certain type of confidence one gets when they know that they look great but are also in clothing so comfortable that they could wear them to the gym.
Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.
- Work Ethic — This one speaks for itself.
- Authenticity — Find a niche and be yourself. You will never be able to please everyone.
- Develop Great Content — In today’s world, this is so important. Before launching Leovici, I was lucky enough to meet travel influencer/photographer Eric Rubens — Eric is now a co-owner. His work for us has been incredible. Having someone like Eric who can deliver high quality content on a regular basis for your website and social media is a must.
- Have A Detailed Plan — Know where you want to be and how you’re going to get there.
- Know Your Numbers — If you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know your business.
Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?
Two things come to mind. I know that the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluting industries in the world. A strong push towards sustainability will hopefully help that. Also, I would love to see more American brands bring manufacturing back to the United States. That has been a staple aspect of the business plan for Leovici from the start and we take great pride in it.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would love to see our athlete collaboration program grow extensively. As Leovici grows, I am really looking forward to seeing all the good that we can bring to the world through this program.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Instagram: @leovici , @brent_wheatley
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!