It’s amazing how your clothing can sometimes speak for itself.
Whether we want it to shout across a room or tiptoe into the corner, it’s saying something about us — whether we like it or not. I mean let’s think about it — there’s a reason why we put so much emphasis on what we wear, how we wear it and why we wear it….because we’re a walking message…a “figure of speech.”
But our speech can be positive and even negative. And that’s what sparked the light bulb for six guys….the fact that we’re all a figure of some kind of speech.
This past month, I had the pleasure for working with my friends to host the first ever iAMfashion runway show (which was a hit by the way) and from this experience I got to meet a bunch of new people including Calvin Cleveland.
Calvin is just one of the six co-founders of the clothing line, Figure of Speech, and a few weeks ago, I had the chance to talk with him and learn the story of this figure of speech.
MAY 5, 2011, Charlotte, NC — The birth of a concept
It was back in May of last year, when Calvin and his friend, Adrain, thought about starting the clothing line. They had each worked together in the past and along with their colleagues, Jay, Joe, Tecumesh, and Ahmed, they decided to begin the massive brainstorm of what starting something like this could be. And after submitting ideas to each other, Calvin said the concept went from “being a fairy tale to being real.”
And so began the birth for Figure of Speech.
The Speech behind the Figure
When I heard the name, Figure of Speech, I wasn’t sure where Calvin and the others were going with this concept until he put is simply: “We are a walking billboard…[and] in terms of being a figure of something positive. A positive message for our youth and people who might be looking at you.” And it makes sense, it’s a concept that we can relate too and it’s one that I’m sure we can all strive to be…a positive image.
Calvin went on to say that “everyone has dreams, everyone wants to do something…[and] we’re all one conversation away, one turn away, one friend away” from doing something positive and bettering oneself. So with this as their mindset, the six co-founders put together a brand and clothing line what would carry a message that they would be proud of.
But with a name like Figure of Speech one may wonder what kind of logo or image could you even use. I mean, let’s face it, the phase “figure of speech” could mean so many things and I found myself thinking of so many things. But the guys chose what I think is a very interesting logo that really fits their message well….the Wolf.
Now you might be scratching your head wondering what the heck a wolf has to do with this but just wait, you’ll see. When I asked Calvin about the meaning behind the animal logo, he directed me to their mission statement where I found this:
“At Figure of Speech, we pride ourselves in using the wolf as the face of our brand because we can relate to its characteristics.
The wolf symbolizes loyalty, success, perseverance, stability and thought. Wolves are also often regarded as path finders and teachers, traveling in packs, and NEVER leaving another behind.
We strive to express our freedom of speech, and innovative ideas through clothing, in hopes of inspiring our peers as they embark on their own Journey’s throughout life.“
Now that’s what I call a meaning behind a brand. And “once you’re in a pack, you never turn your pack on the pack” said Calvin and that’s the truth when it comes to anything you do and the circles you choose to be a part of in your life — once you’re in, you’re in!
“A great and crazy day” — SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 — THE LAUNCH
In late September, the guys dropped their website and Figure of Speech was ready for the world. Recalling that day, Calvin said the day was “indescribable…I know I’m only going to experience it once and I was going to live in the moment.” He said all their friends and family responded with so much support for the brand and the effort behind it.
But what attracted me to Figure of Speech was literally the speech they chose to put on their clothing. All their items carry a different message that’s positive yet unique at the same time. “All six individuals are…we’re all innovative thinkers,” said Calvin. “[All] into fashion and rapping, lyrics and learning life lessons.” He explained how most of their messages or catchy phases were inspired from life lessons they learned while in college. “We just want everything to relate and that’s what we do.”
Fashion meets philanthropy — FOS style
Even though, Figure of Speech, is still new to the fashion world, they’ve already made it clear that their brand is not just about clothing but about paying it forward and giving back. “Our FOS Cares is another thing that we do, that’s our philanthropy aspect,” Calvin said. “That’s one of the biggest things the brand stands for. It stands for dreams and to be everything that you want to be in life and we want to do the philanthropy hands on!”
Shortly after they launched the brand, Figure of Speech hosted a basketball game where they collected school supplies to give to area schools. But instead of just dropping off the supplies after the event, the co-founders of FOS wanted to take it a step further. “We went to the school to talk to the students. We wanted them to see that these are young black guys who are more than their environment,” he said.
The Future of Dreamers
After talking with Calvin, I could tell that Figure of Speech had a bright future ahead of them and that they really had no where else to go but up. The co-founders had successful launched a new clothing brand with a positive message and proved they were about fashion and service. They’ve even been featured in a few Charlotte and Greensboro area shows like the iAMfashion runway show and vendor showcase.
But where are they headed from here? Calvin said they’re in the process of dropping another set of clothes with new message and styles but they’re also trying to expand their brand, grow their philanthropy sector and continue to encourage others to join the movement.
And I challenge you to do the same thing, we all have dreams that are worth chasing so strap on those running shoes and go them!
“It’s essential that our environment consist of goal oriented dream chasers, willing to plow through any obstacles in their way.” — Figure of Speech
Until next time,
***P.S. I’d like to give a shout out to Calvin for talking with me and letting me share the story of Figure of Speech on my blog. Also all photos are courtesy of Figure of Speech. And, if you like what you see, then help these dreamers out and support their brand and continue to help make their dreams into a reality.***