What better way to demonstrate your pride for being a new dad than advertising it right on your polo shirt? Dad Shirt is a line of paternity clothing for men - well, heck, anybody! Because an embroidery of a father swaddling an infant in a Baby Bjorn is a style anybody with a sense of humor and who's ever rocked a crocodile / polo player on their chest can get behind.
Ryan Grim, the co-founder of Dad Shirt, embraces the quirky humor behind the apparel's logo and brand - encouraging others to get in on the joke and sport the look. With a soft cotton fit, a variety of colors, and a cost of just $30 per shirt, this is the perfect baby shower gift we can all get on board with.
Tell me about Dad Shirt. How did you come up with the idea for the company?
The first rumblings of Dad Shirt date back to 2010. I was working at a job that was alright, but I had some spare time (to say the least!) and wanted something to put my energy into at the end of the day. I thought a dad-and-baby logo would be ridiculous, and roped in my brother, John, who does marketing, and off we went. We got loads of free polo shirt samples and started working on the site. We made prototype after messed up prototype until it was where we wanted it to be.
Is the concept meant to be taken seriously or would you say there's a humerous undertone to it?
I honestly don't know anymore. It depends on the person. It started more as a joke brand but after you put so much time into it and people start to like it, the whole project became more of a real serious thing. I guess a company can't be a joke, but a joke can be a company, maybe? Some people see it and say "Aww, that'd be the perfect gift for my brother-in-law who is having his first kid." And some people are like "I'm never having kids because they're a huge hassle, but I think the logo is funny - I'll buy nine." (OK, we've never actually sold nine in one order.) The idea of dads have become funny; Most people will agree. Just look at Tim and Eric or Louis CK or Jim Gaffigan. Don't you laugh sometimes when you see a dad in public, with kids in tow? The more beleaguered he is, the funnier.
From far away, the logo isn't funny. It's a polo t-shirt and there's very little that's funny about polos. But up close it's this weird little thing, and people are like, "What is that? Ohhh, very cool." A long time ago you could say the same thing about the Lacoste crocodile, and now people consider it normal to wear a crocodile on your shirt. Same goes for a polo player, or a the swoosh.
Who is your demographic? I imagine young moms love the shirts for their partners. They'd definitely make for great Father's Day Gifts!
Many of our customers are wives buying the shirt for their husbands. And then the guy throws it in the closet and never wears it. (Kidding! I hear from customers all the time and they get worn a lot.) Mothers buy the shirts for their sons who are having a kid. And, of course, dads buy it for themselves to tell the world they're a dad.
I'd be a shitty businessman if I didn't add that they're the perfect gift for baby showers. Get the mom a Baby Mozard CD or whatever she wants, and get the dad a Dad Shirt.
Do you think single, childless men wear the shirt? Do you wear them? Or is it pretty exclusively sported by fathers?
Women, single guys, old farts, babies, pets, sweaty teens - anyone can wear a Dad Shirt, as we explain in the site's FAQs. I like to wear an early prototype that's kind of rough around the edges.
How do you generally market the line?
The internet. Getting in people's faces at parties. Doing stuff like Created Here. We've gotten some good press, and that always helps. And then there are people wearing it out and about - so someone sees it and are like "I have to get that for [person they know who would like it], where can I find one?" (The website's URL is conveniently located on the tag.)
Are you in local stores or do you plan to be?
In Brooklyn? Nope.
I do plan to be. I'd love a Dad Shirt display at every J Crew, and hell, every Barney's in the city. The right lunches and congenial butt pats with buyers haven't happened yet.
Do you have plans to expand? Socks or even fanny packs would be a big hit.
Socks, fanny packs, boxer-briefs - yes to all. We've talked about doing baby bags for dads. A real nice bag with brown leather trim, full of cookie crumbs that a dad keeps in the back of a Subaru.
You've lived in Brooklyn for a while now. How has the creative community here effected you and your ability to launch something all your own? Have you found that there is a strong sense of comradery, or has it been challenging for you with so much content and competition?
Most people you talk to about your project aren't going to say "No, don't do it. Give up." More like "Bad Shirt!" People either seem to like the shirts of they're good liars. That said, I'd be misstating the truth if I claimed to be deeply ingrained in the fashion community here. I work as an editor for a website. I'm pals with the women behind TEN & Co. and Carleen, but I guess I'd say I'm not involved enough to feel a strong sense of competition with other small shirt companies. I've always seen Dad Shirt as a nation-wide brand that appeals to everyone everywhere. It was designed in Brooklyn, and I live here, but I'm going after the dad in Indianapolis and the dad in Sacramento as much as the Cobble Hill pep pep.
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