TACKMA started when Jeffrey Schottenstein made a pair of NikeiD sneakers for LeBron James with the acronym for 'They Can All Kiss My Ass' stitched across the back. Now it's a full streetwear fashion range, sported by everyone from Drake to Kevin Durant.
In January 2012, back when LeBron James was fighting to get his first championship ring with the Miami Heat and dealing with intense media scrutiny, he was spotted in the locker room wearing a pair of sneakers customized with the acronym TACKMA stitched across the back. Sportswriters and social media users tried to figure out the six-letter mystery before finally figuring out that it stood for "They All Can Kiss My Ass."
At that moment, TACKMA was just an idea of Jeffrey Schottenstein's, born out of his own frustration with the people around him who doubted his aptitude for greatness. His crude mantra resonated so much with James that he had Schottenstein toss the letters on the back of a pair of NikeiD sneakers to send a message to all of his haters. TACKMA soon evolved into a much larger project that attracted a following of others who wanted the world's naysayers to shut up. Schottenstein, who has a background in business, decided to transform the acronym into a full-fledged clothing line, and called on Ed Givens, a creative Cleveland native he'd met years earlier at an Ohio State football game, to help make his vision a reality.
Later he hired Danny Victor to handle business, Allan Francisco to design clothes, and eventually Mike Camargo to do sales and marketing. TACKMA officially launched in November 2013 as a brand focused on creating high-quality menswear pieces that benefit from the team's attention to detail—their varsity jackets feature lush lambskin sleeves and some of their woven shirts boast detachable collars. Their stuff is relatively affordable, too: The brand's cheapest items are suede-brim hats at around $65, and its most expensive offerings are outerwear pieces like suit-lined suede bombers, which cost about $600. The company's slogan is "Seek No Approval" (basically a cleaned-up version of what their acronym stands for) and its garments often feature the brand's black sheep logo. Since it's inception, Lebron has been spotted several times sporting TACKMA, in addition to athletes like Kevin Durant and musicians like Fabolous and Drake.
Today the brand drops its fourth collection, "Ruling Forces," which is loosely inspired by Top Gun and incorporates themes of aeronautics and aviation. The pieces include double-sided zip hoodies, leather-shouldered button-ups, and woven chinos. I met with the guys, minus Givens, at their showroom near Midtown in Manhattan to talk about Cleveland, their upcoming holiday collection, and how sometimes you just want to tell people to fuck off.
VICE: They All Can Kiss My Ass is an interesting concept for a brand. How did that become the jumping-off point?
Danny: Jeff came up with the acronym. He was just feeling a kind of way. Everyone gets into a funk. Sometimes you can just wake up in the morning and be like, Fuck everything.
Jeff: It wasn't a funk. I would say it was more of a frustration. I was working on another brand, but this one acronym always resonated with me. I had it trademarked.
Why is the idea of TACKMA so important to you guys?
Mike: How we use that acronym when approaching the brand is, we know that there are a lot of people who say because you do this, you can't succeed at that. You can't make a brand that is niche and cool, because you do this other type of business. The way we push that now, aside from the seed that was planted with how [Jeff] was feeling, is TACKMA is a representation of what people think we can't do.
Jeff: The acronym applies to everyone. There is a certain basketball individual who was feeling that emotion at the same time. He wanted to NikeiD some shoes and I did it for him. He was in it from day one. I am sure when people were burning his jerseys, he felt that acronym. So whether you are black, white, orange—you can feel that emotion. It applies to a lot of people.
What role has Cleveland played in supporting the brand?
Mike: I have no ties to Cleveland, but it already feels like I have something there. I think its dope because I am from Brooklyn and you know how proud Brooklyn people are. So it is cool to be able to help somewhere else have that cultural relevance. To be like, Yo, that shit Chris Paul is wearing, that started in Ohio. I think that is where the flag of TACKMA should wave.
Danny: In between Ed and Jeff, that's where it started. It is a brand that was conceived in Ohio, designed in New York, and sold everywhere.
What is the concept behind your collections?
Allan: The way I design is the way I would want my closet to look. I want pieces that are going to stand the test of time. A lot of places go with the trend, but I am trying to stay away from that. I have always been into Americana.
Danny: We are still growing and figuring out exactly where we want this to land. Some of the pieces that people really like are our outerwear and our hats.
What's the goal of the brand moving forward?
Mike: TACKMA is in such a niche area. We are creating a lane now that a lot of brands aren't, with fashion-forward and high quality pieces that are at a price most brands aspire to, but they aren't hitting the mark. We want kids to know you can wear fashionable shit without going to Zara. You can create your own look and you can have your own voice.
Buy some TACKMA gear right now at their website
Follow Erica Euse on Twitter.