How Ethika Became One of Hip-Hop’s Favorite Brands?
With their recent collaborations with Kid Ink and Casey Veggies, as well as The Game's thirst trap pictures on Instagram a few weeks back, underwear brand Ethika has become the go-to brand for hip-hop artists in the industry.
Founded in November of 2001, and with deep roots in action sports, Ethika has managed to become a popular brand among today's best musicians, athletes and artists. With CEO Matt Cook at helm, as well as the contributions of Malcolm McCassy and Kevin Delaney, the brand's outreach in the music industry really surged in 2012 after the San Clemente-based underwear brand decided to branch out and utilize their resources in building a music program. The results of the program have benefitted Ethika in several realms of entertainment, most notably the genre of hip-hop.
Ethika has quickly risen as one of the new options in underwear for hip-hop. From the likes of MGK to Lil Wayne, Kid Ink and Meek Mill, today's hip-hop artists have managed to bring awareness to the brand in several different ways. With more collaborations in the works for Ethika and the biggest names in hip-hop, the brand is making a splash like no other.
XXL recently spoke with Ethika CEO, Matt Cook, to get his thoughts on the brand's rise in hip-hop , upcoming collaborations and more.
How do you feel about Ethika becoming one of the go-to underwear brands in hip-hop?
We feel really good about that! from the beginning, Ethika has had deep roots in action sports. It wasn’t until about 3 years ago that we decided to branch out and dedicate resources and energy building our music program. It really has paid off for us – and also has inadvertently broadened our brand way beyond just the hip-hop/music industry.
Why do you think the hip-hop community has embraced the brand so much?
We feel there are two main reasons Ethika seems to be out in front. the first is the overall brand and what we represent and stand for. We spend as much time on making sure everything we do has a unique and contagious vibe as we do on developing the actual product. The second is simply the product. We have been doing this a long time and the underwear game is not easy. we have been able to create and perfect a quality product that is comfortable and gives our customers a sense of confidence. At the end of the day, if the product isn’t good we wouldn’t be able to maintain such a broad following.
What hip-hop artists was the first that you saw wearing the brand? And what artists do you feel are responsible for making the brand aware among the hip-hop consumers?
Lil Jon was actually the first hip-hop artist to wear the brand and this was back around 2008. MGK, Meek Mill, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, and Kid Ink made the product really visible to the masses. We also feel that the hip-hop consumer extends beyond just the artists. To us, music inspires everything, so getting Wayne, Meek, MGK, Ink, etc. in the product and really behind us generated additional interest from all types of professional athletes, celebrities, influencers, etc. This sort of domino effect is where we have seen the biggest increase in visibility.
You’ve been collaborating with hip-hop artists such as kid ink and casey veggies, what about these artists and their movements made you want to work with them?
We have been pretty fortunate - in that we have a good following and relevance in the marketplace. This has allowed us to create some really cool relationships and collaborations. We always tend to gravitate to artists that share our vision and vibe. Kid Ink and his manager DJ Ill Will have been such a great partner for us. The deals are always easy, we are able to collaborate on Tha Alumni designs, and our retail partners love Ink. Every aspect just makes sense. For us, Casey Veggies was in a similar situation where he has his clothing line (Peas N Carats). He has a retail location in LA and was already wearing our product. We got a long great with him, we love his music and were able to both benefit from our collaboration.
Compared to other underwear brands, why do you think Ethika sets itself apart from the competitors?
We are really selling a lifestyle as much as we are selling underwear. Our creative team has done such an amazing job in translating this vision across the board - from our overall brand image all the way down to the designs and prints we decide to produce, and at some point it will always come back to the product. The consumer wants and appreciates quality products. We are perfectionists on the product. You would be amazed at the amount of time we still spend on tweaking our “staple fit” - the fit that everyone already loves so much.
Should we expect more Ethika collaborations with hip-hop artists?
Yes. It's a main company objective each season to collaborate with hip-hop artists. We will continue to roll out new designs with our current artists and will be releasing new collaborations as well. We have something with Chevy Woods coming out soon and are working on a Meek Mill/Dreamchasers collection. There is a couple other bigger deals we have in the works as well that will be unique and exciting.
Tell me about the response you’ve received since The Game decided to put up his pics on IG?
Man, this has been a topic of conversation at our office. The exposure has been really great for the brand and our online sales for that matter. We have been working with him on his give-back initiative “the robin hood project” and would like to collaborate with him and be able to give back. People don’t realize how much he actually does help kids and the community. We are always excited about figuring out unique ways we can contribute to programs artists are already doing.