Imperial Motion started from the garage now they’re here:
Story by Theo Lewitt Reinventing a staple is tough. Trunks have been around since the 60s. They grew, then shrunk, then stretched, and hold every color. Teos are even more dried out, and pants flood higher or sag lower with each season. Unique approaches don’t come around all that often, but when a newcomer pops up […]
Story by Theo Lewitt
Reinventing a staple is tough. Trunks have been around since the 60s. They grew, then shrunk, then stretched, and hold every color. Teos are even more dried out, and pants flood higher or sag lower with each season. Unique approaches don’t come around all that often, but when a newcomer pops up with aspirations to take over a whole industry, questions must be asked. There’s bound to be a story of interest in there somewhere.
Eric, Steve and Spencer started Imperial Motion in 2002 before any of them cracked 20 years old. College dropouts with a few credit cards to max out, they began their brand from a parent’s garage – with the founding idea that “you don’t need to be somebody to make something.” Since we’re gonna be seeing a lot more of them in surfing, we figured it was time to meet the fam.
Stab: How does a company from Tacoma in Washington fit into surfing?
Imperial Motion: Growing up, going surfing was no different than going snowboarding for us. The waves and the mountains were both two hours away, and both worth the drive. So, surfing has been a part of the brand since day one. Our first custom item ever produced was a boardshort, which is still the cornerstone of the brand.
Here’s: Billy Kean.
Everyone has a line. Yours is “representing the underachiever.” What does that usually-negative word mean to IM? When we dropped out of school to start the brand, our friends and family told us to go back to school and not be underachievers. We put that slogan, “representing the underachiever,” behind the first tee we ever made and haven’t stopped using it since. To us, it’s a reminder to choose your own way in life.
Brent Bielmann. Photographer. Fisherman. Model (seriously… he models.)
For IM’s first surf-team rider, Jake Davis, the brand’s sentiment “speaks for itself. When IM came to me, we all got along so well and everything clicked. It just made sense to go with it because they represent the underachiever, which I felt like I was.”
Alex Smith, another v good addition to the IM fam, sees it differently. “I’m really passionate about qualifying for the World Tour and putting out the best edits I can, so I’m not aiming to be an underachiever. But I think I definitely haven’t achieved what I know I can, so I think that’s what I can take out of it.”
Alex Smith, Jake Davis, Evan Thompson, and photographer Brent Bielmann are flying the IM flag in the world of surf. How’d you pick em? We wanted a group of guys that, as individuals, we felt were in a similar place to us and where we are as a company. I think we all wake up every morning with a bit of a chip on our shoulder, and start each day feeling as though we have something to prove.
For Jake, this chip is a major driver in his career: “I’ve gone my whole life getting just as good results and as barreled as anyone else, but never got all the fame or the same outcome with sponsorships that all of the other kids got.”
Similarly, after years of injury and lacking sponsor support, Alex has something to prove.“I tore my meniscus and had some knee surgery a year and a half ago, so I feel like the world hasn’t really seen my best in a while. I’m working really hard to show everyone I’m still here,” says Alex.
What’s IM do that the competition don’t? I think, putting it into music terms, we put out one great album every year, though you’ll probably never see us with a number one billboard hit. In doing this, we create trust with our customers. They know that if a piece has our name on it, it’ll be quality. We’ll still be putting out great records ten years from now.
What’s your niche? We want to bridge the gap between fashion and function.
Jake Davis, less social presence than older bro Luke, but certainly no less enthusiasm above the lip.
Alex appreciates that “they’re not super flashy and poppy like a lot of other brands. They kind of just do their own thing based up in Washington, away from the surf industry, which creates a different kind of vibe from what you see in a lot of other surf brands.”
What’s IM’s specialty? Seven years ago we introduced the ‘tight & right’ boardshort featuring the first and only drawstring that goes all the way through a fixed waistband, making it the best fitting board short on the market. We’ve made improvements on this short every year and it’s still the best fitting short today.
The word “imperial” implies a takeover. Are you a planning global surf takeover? Yes…
Check out the brand’s site and full line, here.
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