The fedora: a classic hat dating back to the 1890s worn by the coolest cats and best known for its low-sitting crowns, soft brim and “pinched” taper. For BRIMS co-founders Archie Clay III and Tajh Crutch, the iconic head accessory never went out of style.
“We wanna bring that energy from out past to the present, bridge the gap between the old and the new,” Crutch told Atlanta Black Star in a recent interview.
Launched in 2014, BRIMS luxury fedora line offers consumers a unique handcrafted, American-made fashion accessory that goes beyond any one particular style. Whether one is looking to dress up, or is going for a more casual look, the entrepreneurs say their hats are the cherry on top of any fashion ensemble.
The brand, inspired by Clay’s grandmother and Crutch’s grandfathers’ love of fedoras, uses quality materials including felt, velvet and silk to create an distinguished look. Clay, 29, and Crutch, 29, take pride in their business, but emphasized that their brand is more than just hats — it’s about creating an experience.
“For me, it was about how do we motivate individuals, inspire individuals who are our age — or even older than us,” Clay said of BRIMS’ mission. “And from there it was like, ‘Hey, I think we have something special.’”
The company’s hats are also one-of-a-kind, as the founders only produce limited amounts of a particular style. And once they’re gone they’re gone.
“It’s always going to be something different,” Clay added. “We want people to know that when you walk into a building wearing [our] products, you walk in with confidence, with your head held high. We want everyone to know we’re all kings and queens out here.”
After meeting in college and crossing as proud members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Clay and Crutch got the idea to launch their very own fedora line back in 2015. It was Clay who presented the dream to Crutch, whom he said had an eye for fashion and even customized his own fedoras at times.
At first, Crutch wasn’t fully on board. However, the duo got things rolling once they realized it was the opportune time to break into the market, as other notable hat brands, like Thorne Bros. and Stetson, were much older and very much established. It’d be years before a fresh luxury hat brand would hit the scene.
After securing a manufacturer and other things, Clay and Crutch made it their mission to launch their business. Cue the birth of BRIMS.
Currently, the company gets much of its business online, however, its “brims” are also sold by clothing retailer Attom in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood. Both Clay and Crutch said they hope to link with other retailers in the near future, but are also in talks of opening their own brick-and-mortar shop.
“We definitely want to have at least one flagship store where we can have an office, and from there we can do all our creative [work], and things of that nature,” Clay explained.
Additionally, they have plans to expand to an entire accessories line offering caps, beanies, jean jackets, hoodies, as well as other pieces one might pair with a stylish fedora.
So far, Clay and Crutch say their entrepreneurial journey has been great, although it’s been far from easy. Like most business owners, the pair admit they’ve run into several obstacles as they worked get their brainchild up and running.
“Two grown Black men coming into a luxury fedora business, it’s kind of like we started from the ground up,” Crutch told ABS. “We tried reaching out to others [for help], but we didn’t really get a response back. A lot of doors were shut on us until they saw us progressing and growing on our own.”
The friends said they eventually found their groove and were able to figure things out on their own. In just the past week, they’ve been able to grow the number of visitors to their website from 300 to more than 5,000 and have garnered over 30,000 shares on social media.
The recent accomplishment has been more than rewarding for Clay and
Crutch who, like most entrepreneurs, “bootstrapped” by pouring every penny, nickel and dime earned back into the growth and development of their brand.
“I have always known we had a great product, but you don’t always get that appreciation sometimes,” said Clay. “Outside of recently being featured in GQ British, I think this is one of our greatest accomplishments. Just getting the opportunity to be front and center from a product standpoint.”
He added that when you get that “stamp of credibility” it allows you to get your hands on more resources and also give back.
“It’s not just about being a Black entrepreneur,” he explained. “It’s about being an entrepreneur who’s trying to give back to other people that want to gain that knowledge as well.”
Business is booming for the fedora friends, and they already have big plans for the future. In the next five years, the pair said they hope to have opened their own store and to have earned over $1 million in sales. Moreover, Clay and Crutch hope to grow their brand to the point where they can just focus on creating new and improved styles.
“We want to be able to create a product that spans time,” Crutch told ABS. “It’s a statement piece, so whenever you wear it, it makes the whole outfit by itself.”