WRITTEN BY: BEN NEUHAUS & MIRANDA MALLOY
It’s Rogue Territory’s 10 year anniversary. Typing this up, we just released RGT’s 2nd fall/ winter delivery of the season, which will includes a brand new proprietary collection of camouflage patterns you’ve never seen the likes of. A pattern they’re calling Blended Anniversary Camo—a mix of two of their most widely sought after camouflage patterns from the RGT archives, Raindrop Camo and Drake Camo.
I know Karl and Leslie, the power couple behind the brand, are reminiscing hard right now. I can only imagine the roller coaster of emotions. So, while they’re feeling deservedly emo right now, I’m going to fuel the fire a little with a love letter of sorts to both the brand and the people behind the brand.I made my 1st RGT purchase online from Atlanta, GA where I was still living in 2011. It was the RGT 14.5oz Indigo Stanton (duh), and it’s very possible our lives would be different today if I hadn’t found Rogue Territory on a site called Denim Debate (RIP Secret Forts), and for a myriad of reasons, I really connected with the brand. Like the vast majority of our customers today, I didn’t have access to a ton of options living in Atlanta. I’d been wearing RRL Slim Fits for years, and I loved the fit but was in the market for a new slim/ straight raw denim brand beyond the 3 available in my city at that time. Like most of you guys, I did all my homework and research online and pulled the trigger (industry folks now call this ‘webrooming’). I purchased directly from RGT’s website without asking any questions beforehand, and it worked out pretty great. The Stanton was exactly what I was looking for.
I worked retail for someone else back then. I was great at sales but didn’t always love what I was selling, which worked out pretty well for me because I started selling product I won in sales competitions on eBay to help support my new Rogue Territory addiction. For years I’d been visiting LA and Long Beach twice a year to visit my brother, and that’s how I finally met Karl and Leslie in real life after emailing back and forth for many months. We met for lunch at a kooky LA Thai spot with an Elvis impersonator and they ended up being two of the most genuine and authentic people I’ve met in my life.
Rogue Territory helped lay a path out in front of me, and Karl and Leslie, as friends, definitely helped give me and Miranda the courage to start the journey we’re on right now. They are two of the only humans on earth who know even a little bit about how hard we fought to launch SOP. Even most of the people we call friends today don’t know what we went through to be here right now. Karl and Leslie’s story and fight felt similar and validating as we got to know them better. Like a broken record, I always say this business is about relationships. It’s not lip service, it’s total fucking fact. Relationships is the reason we choose brands we’ve chosen, the reason we continue to do business with brands, and also the reason we’ve parted ways with brands. When we moved to Long Beach in late 2012, it was directly through Karl and Leslie’s relationship that we felt this crazy idea of SOP might actually make it.
When our own families thought we were crazy and SOP was a juvenile delusion, Karl and Leslie knew we needed to hear we could do it. And we were only just the right amount of crazy needed to start a retail business. Karl introduced us to the short-lived business partner who helped launch SOP (even tho that didn’t exactly work out, I don’t hold it against you Karlito, if you’re reading this). They’ll probably never really know what all those many hours spent in their backyard in Atwater Village meant to us in the early days. But it’s important to say that if anyone out there is reading this and you don’t have friends in your life supporting you, helping you, advising you, get you some new friends TODAY. I don’t mean “yes” friends who will just agree with you, but I do mean surrounding yourself with smart AF, driven hustlers who add value to your life and will talk about the things no one else will. One day sitting in their backyard, Karl told me something that I needed to hear more than anything—he knew the store would be successful because of me. Literally no one in my life, other than Miranda, had ever believed in me like that. The ironic thing is that I knew SOP would be successful, too, but because of RGT.
Rogue Territory was our very 1st committed brand. Long before we had a business plan, or any idea in actual hell how we’d open a store, we had them. For us, the people and the brand are so inseparably linked that just seeing that iconic feather has an emotional impact, and I think it’s that same hard to explain feeling for many customers. So, when we hosted our very first pop up event in Long Beach, we released a co-branded work shirt that sold out in minutes. RGT was so integral to our beginnings that we pretty much forced Karl be in a launch video shot in Long Beach and at their studio in LA.
RGT, as both a brand and as people, is just as important to our shop today as it was in 2013. Because we’ve been through similar struggles and milestones through the years, they’re able to not just be our #1 selling brand in store (still to this day), but can keep us growing together in ways nobody else does. From our very 1st ever invoice due when Leslie told me not to shit my pants when I saw it (because she was 100% totally right that I was gonna), to figuring out how the hell to do payroll, to taking every single half-baked collab idea I’ve ever had at least 90% seriously…they’ve been right there in the trenches with us. To be honest, our businesses have gone through some similar struggles. In this business, you see folks clearly backed by investors come on the scene out of seemingly nowhere—brands and stores often run by people who may not be in it for the same reasons as us and who seem to get to skip right over paying their dues and earning their place. Even though a lot of those go away almost as soon as they arrive, it’s still hard to not feel the unjustness of it—that some of us have to fight our way into our place in this world while others don’t. The ironic thing is that the fight is what makes us capable of not just surviving but thriving. It’s incredible to walk alongside friends who share the same work ethic and who aren’t just unafraid to get their hands dirty but want to work their own business. All of it. Even the shitty, non-glamorous, sweaty, panic-inducing parts.
Going forward, we’re working on some really rad, big projects with RGT that we can’t wait to share with everyone. But, for now, let’s celebrate 10 years of crushing the game in an unrelenting, unforgiving, kick-you-dead-in-your-nuts business. And, if you’re local-ish or planning to be in town November 16th, go ahead and mark your calendars for Snakesgiving, SOP’s 6 year anniversary, where we’re releasing two really fucking incredible RGT collaboration pieces that will definitely blow your entire brain out!