The Long Game

Posted by Joe Eldridge on

We just sold our 500th shirt via the website. That's not counting in store sales, patreon or the promos that have been given away.

Back in 2006 I started a streetwear company called Hoodie Army. It was rooted in indie hip hop and skate/graffiti art culture. It's success was owed mostly to our presence on MySpace and the cultural wildfire that network was for about 3 years. M.I.A. and Diplo were each in possession of one of our hoodies at one point. It was a fun ride but because I had no prior experience with fashion, marketing and was not a legitimate graphic artist, it all felt like a flash in the pan. It didn't seem like there was enough there to BELIEVE in. The end was marked when I turned down a collaboration offer with Kentucky's Nappy Roots. They wanted to do a hoodie with banned cover art from their first album. It required an upfront investment of $5k, which scared the shit out of me. It didn't happen and Hoodie Army eventually scattered to the wind.

Who knows where HA would have gone. All I know is I wussed out because I didn't believe in it enough. Belief is in plentiful supply with Shadebeast. People come into our shop and THANK us for existing. If you go to shows in Athens or Atlanta, our shirts are in full effect. If I joke about shutting Shadebeast down, friends litterally get angry with me. I'm smart enough to know this is not about ME. The metal community wants a metal centric record store to exist. The popularity of our shirts has everthing to do with their quality and the strength of the art. I'm mostly a connector with some really talented friends.

Establishing Shadebeast as the first legit streetwear brand representing underground metal is my passon project... my LIFE project. I believe in it and I'm not in a hurry. Streetwear brands rooted in the surf, skate and hip hop culture come and go yearly. Only a handful have lasted more than a decade. I think this is because those cultures are marked by stylistic trends and try to cater to those ephemeral ups and downs, and want a quick payout. The community Shadebeast strives to represent, made up of stoners, heshers, bangers, etc., has existed since the late 60's and isn't prone to mainstream popularity, much less wild trends. It's a subculture that's around to stay, even if underground, in the shadows. So is Shadebeast. 

- Joe

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