Cincinnati – “Over the last 10 years the energy in Cincinnati has been incredible. The Queen of the midwest is full of great restaurants (OTR), killer coffee (Coffee Emporium), and the pride of southern Ohio…the Bengals. This coloration is inspired by the energy of the Cincinnati Bengals. Wear this shirt while watching football, walking around OTR, or just hanging out.”
Troy – ” Inspired by one my first LIGHTNING BOLTS of inspiration, Troy OHIO. I’ve met some of my best friends in this MIDWESTERN gem, based on riverbanks and a city square. We recommend wearing this while watching football, drinking iced chai, and playing pick up basketball with friends.”
Athens – “Settled in the rolling hills of OHIO is the wonderful town of ATHENS. The Mighty Bobcats made a Cinderella run in the NCAA tourney a few years back, and we have a love of underdogs. Spending a lot of time in ATHENS has been a big part of our lives. Getting tattoos, drinking coffee, and having OH Betty’s…memories I will always cherish. Wear ATHENS with pride, and dream big.”
Midwestern Conference is a project, launched by three friends who all shared a common idea of home…the elegant, non-coastal MIDWEST. Based on the love of times shared with family and friends, their Midwestern Conference apparel line is built on the simple themes of hardwork, pride and family.As friends and partners, they knew that they wanted to do something that didn’t fall into the typical music meets fashion branding of a clothing line (as partner JT Woodruff is the frontman for Hawthorne Heights). They wanted to do something that was more lifestyle oriented, but a theme that they all had in common. That theme ended up being their love for athletics and traveling.
Each shirt design and color theme is based on conversations involving their favorite cities in the Midwest. The great times they had with friends and family, their favorite sports teams, or even a tiny town with a great coffee shop have all become inspirations for the looks so far.
Above all, the partners agreed it was important to showcase their hard work and dedication by hand printing each of the products in small town Ohio, USA. It’s common place in the Midwest to work as hard as you can to support whatever it is you love, and they wanted to honor that tradition by doing all the work themselves. With the modus operandi, “It’s OK to be different, as long as you are being yourself,” Midwestern Conference is poised for success.
You Indie recently caught up with one of the three partners, Nick Corns, to discuss the endeavor. This is what he told us about it.
As well-travelled people I imagine you’ve seen parts of the world that have inspired you, touched your hearts and changed you but what is it about those Midwestern roots that feels good and shapes you at your core?
Yeah we have all travelled all over the world and seen a lot of beautiful and amazing places, but we always come back home. The Midwest will always be our home because this is where we are surrounded by friends and family, the people we love and cherish; these people and memories are what have shaped us to our core.
Midwestern Conference represents more than just our personal experiences though… It’s an ode to simpler times, when loyalty, determination, and hard earned success were a priority. We want that to be an inherent message in our brand; one that can be received by anyone, anywhere who shares the same values. The MIDWEST IS RELENTLESS and we always come up on top.
How did the project graduate from an idea kicked around between friends to a real undertaking?
We have been talking about doing something like this for years; finding a way to represent this special family we’re part of and the values we share, in a way that allows us to invite the world to experience it with us. Right now it’s just about seizing the opportunity we have finally been afforded, since we’re all finally back home.
Were you ever hesitant about doing business with friends?
No not for a second. These people are my friends for a reason. That’s what separates the Midwest from everywhere else; our bonds can’t be broken; our friendships could never be compromised by a business, and that will never change. So, going into business we never had any reservations on that front. We trust each other with anything, so I wouldn’t want it any other way.
How is this project different than the typical “music meets fashion” clothing line? On the flipside how has music inspired or enabled this business?
Of course we’re all inspired by and share a passion for music, but we really want to separate our musical endeavors from this project. Our purpose here is to represent the most raw values that bind us, those that people from the Midwest live by; it all comes back to working hard for the things you’ve earned, taking pride in those accomplishments, and sharing them with people who understand that sacrifice the most.
Of course music plays a huge role in our lives and has given us the opportunity to travel the world and meet some amazing people, and we have learned a lot from it.
What are the catalysts that inspires the individual designs? How does a design go from the drawing board to a finished product?
It’s a throw back to our pasts. The colors and designs remind us of our childhood. We’re inspired by our favorite sports teams, signs from local hangouts, anything reminiscent of the places and experiences that have influenced who we are today. Our parents and grandparents always worked hard to give us the best lives possible; It may not have been impressive to the rest of the world, but our small town was all we needed to feel invincible. We just want to embody these notions, which made the Midwest such a great place to be raised.
Are these clothes manufactured in the Midwest or domestically?
All of our supplies from the clothes to the ink are bought in the Midwest. We do all the printing ourselves in Troy, Oh. So we take great pride in doing the work ourselves. Each print is special and unique and hand printed with care.
What are you hoping the experience of wearing these clothes is like for the consumer? Who are you hoping will enjoy these?
We just want our consumers to be happy, proud and feel comfortable in what they wear. “Always remember to be yourself”, is kind of the motto around Midwestern Conference. We want to encourage people to remain true to themselves and their dreams, no matter what the surrounding circumstances. Midwestern Conference values pride and respect, for yourself and each other. Being yourself will always land you in a good place.
We hope to reach as many people as possible, of course. We aren’t limiting ourselves to the Midwest; we definitely don’t want to exclude anyone outside of the Midwest. The values we urge can be found anywhere in the world, wherever hardworking, ambitious people can be found. In the short couple weeks we have been selling, we have already sold coast to coast and overseas. We are excited about the future.
Do you wear the clothes and what has your experience been? Is there a best practice for washing, ironing, wear that you’ve discovered?
Yeah we wear the clothes all the time. I always get interest and positive feedback when I wear Midwestern Conference in public. There is no technique required with regard to washing or ironing; the most important practice is putting it on every day, feeling proud, and enjoying it!
What can you tell us about the designs in your debut collection?
We wanted the final products to be clean, classic and simple. Timeless, like the Midwest.
Where can people find you on the internet and social media? How does one place an order?
@midwesternconference – Instagram
As the project grows would you ever consider visiting the Shark Tank for an investment? If so, who would your ideal venture capitalist investor be?
NO! We want to go all the way with this line; we want the world on board, but we would never risk diminishing the spirit of Midwestern Conference by handing over the reins to someone chasing dolla billz.