Friday, July 06, 2007

Cricket Syndicate featured in Lavender Magazine

Cricket Syndicate is a fun, small company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The local GLBT magazine (Lavender Magazine) in Minneapolis featured Cricket Syndicate back in March of this year. So here's the article the wrote up about Christopher Straub and his Cricket Syndicate line of underwear. To view the article at Lavender Magazine click here.

Christopher Straub is trying to get in your pants. That is, if he isn’t there already. But don’t call the cops just yet—you actually might like what he’s offering.

This 28-year-old fashion designer is the creator and artistic drive behind the underwear company Cricket Syndicate.

“A couple of years ago, I was really into the vintage thing—I wanted everything that I had when I was a kid,” Straub says. “And I wanted Underoos, but they don’t make Underoos in my size, so I had to make my own Spider-Man underwear. I found a Spider-Man shirt or whatever, I cut it up, and I made it into some underwear.”

Soon, Straub was hand-sewing underwear left and right for his friends. It wasn’t long before he decided to turn the new undertaking into a cash cow.

The designer recalls, “I started putting them in boutiques, and I’d sell like $1,200 in underwear a month. And then, that just kind of grew from there.”

As Straub explains, “I love to take something like NASCAR, beer, cigarettes—any of that stuff—and take it out of its element. Taking this total promo, giveaway crap, and turning it into a high-style menswear item.”

Straub sells the unmentionables on his Web site now, but his initial marketing strategy was quite different: “I would sell them at bars, and I’d leave with hundreds of dollars from people just buying underwear out of my messenger bag. A group of 10 friends would dig through, and then other people wanted to dig, also. It helped to create that frenzy. After 20 minutes, I’d be done selling, and I would just dance.”

For Straub, success with the underwear sales has been overwhelming and encouraging. He grew up in Edina. A family death early in his life meant he had to work and help pay the bills for his family.

Although Straub never formally went to school for fashion design, he used to make dresses for his best friend, Natalie. He worked a number of different jobs, from set designer to fashion retail merchandiser.

Straub remembers those early odd jobs: “I used to manage at a Kmart in Fargo, North Dakota, in the menswear department, and I would put these outfits together that were totally not the crowd.”

Straub’s days in the glamorous likes of Kmart and Old Navy might be over, but that doesn’t mean he’s done with dressing people up.

In the designer’s words, “I’ve gone to Paris twice to style for other designers. I’ll be styling down in Florida, and I’ve styled in California, too. It’s nice to work with some designers that sell $60 million worth of product a year.”

Straub hopes one day to be selling alongside big-name designers, but it probably won’t be happening in the next year or so.

As Straub relates, “In this part of the country, you can’t make a living making one-of-a-kind pieces. I don’t do suiting. I like to make fun, everyday pieces. And there’s not a lot of people willing to spend $80 on just a simple top without any buttons.”

Straub is planning to take Cricket Syndicate into the mainstream, however, with a new line of underwear called Clones.

As Straub remarks, “They’re the one-of-a-kind feel, and they have the same kind of philosophies, but they’re my own screen printed designs.

“Instead of getting 100 T-shirts, and making 100 separate pairs, we’ll produce different predetermined designs. It’ll be a lower price point. We’ll be able to produce more to get into stores that would demand a size run of all patterns.

“I’d still like to have the one-of-a-kind. You feel so good, because no one else is going to walk down the street wearing the same thing. I’d love to still offer that, but I’d love to be in Urban Outfitters, Metro Park—stores with a little more edge.”

In case you’re wondering what kind of underwear Straub is hoarding for himself, he reveals, “My absolute favorite images are photo-quality images of faces. I just sold one with Christina Aguilera’s face. I love sports ones like Kevin Garnett. I really like that kind of thing.”

So, if Crickets haven’t invaded your underwear drawer yet, they’re not far away. And you thought that chirping noise was something to call the exterminator over!

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