Inspiration: Designers Who Started Their Own Clothing Line

As I’m writing the “Designers Guide to the Apparel Industry” eBook that I plan to release soon, I started to take notice of WHO are the role models that inspired this book. Essentially, who are the designers who started freelancing and eventually started and now run a successful clothing line? As Steve Knerem’s “start a clothing line” series sheds light on HIS experience doing what so many of us designers want to do: Branch out and release something of our own.

These designers got started working for clients. As you know, you’re mostly working on THEIR ideas and helping them solve problems. I’m sure a lot of designers reading this have felt the urge to work on their own ideas but probably never had the time. Heck, you may have even “started a line” yourself but there’s a good chance your tees are gathering dust in your basement because you were never able to take the line beyond a casual hobby.

The folks I’m featuring here have taken it past the hobby phase and created their own unique brand. Everyone talks about starting their own line, which as we’ve seen the past few years, lots have done just that – started. While I give people praise for starting something on their own terms, let these folks be role models and inspiration to take it to that next level.

Some of these I have interviewed for my eBook and you can read case studies about HOW they did it. You can get notified by email when the book comes out.

Mark Capicotti

Mark Capicotto created Glamour Kills

Glamour Kills - Bonjour Monday

Glamour Kills - Summer of Love

Rob Dobi

Rob’s portfolio is at
He created Full Bleed.

Rob Dobi - Client work - This is it (Michael Jackson) and Green Day

Rob Dobi - Fullbleed

Dan Mumford

Dan’s portfolio is at
His apparel is available at

Dan Mumford - Client work - Awakening

Dan Mumford - Mumford Clothing - The Death of Summer

Sam Kaufman

Sam runs East Fork Studio
Lead & Light

Sam Kaufman - East Fork Studio - Client work - Weezer

Sam Kaufman - Lead & Light - Telemanipulation

Brandon Herbel

Brandon blogs under the alias All Work No Sleep and runs Make Believe Studio.
Make Believe Clothing Co.

Brandon Herbel - Make Believe Studio - Client work - Lady Gaga

Brandon Herbel - Make Believe Clothing Co.

Kyle Crawford

Kyle’s portfolio is at
Electric Zombie is the clothing line, with a bunch of satellite websites that are all amazing.

Kyle Crawford - Client work - Alkaline Trio - Little death movie poster

Kyle Crawford - Electric Zombie - Transsmission Black

Johnny Cupcakes

Johnny Cupcakes does… Johnny Cupcakes. You should check the story out.

Johnny Cupcakes - Voodoo cook

Michael Leon

Michael Leon is the man behind Commonwealth Stacks

Michael Leon - Michael Leon Studio - Client work - Rasa AdvertisingMichael Leon - Commonwealth Stacks - CWS shirt and Beetle shirt

Jacob Bannon

Jacob Bannon is the creative mastermind behind Deathwish

Jacob Bannon - Client work - Killing the Dream

Jacob Bannon - Deathwish

Glenn Jones

Glenn’s portfolio can be found on Behance or on his website.
Glennz is the place to find his world famous shirts.

Glenn Jones - Client work - Despair - Unsolved crime

Glenn Jones - Glennz - Office chat

David Murray

David Murray is the guy designing SEIBEI.

David Murray - SEIBEI - I'm fat let's party - Zombie hunter shirt

Jeff Sheldon

Jeff Sheldon is the man behind Ugmonk.

Jeff Sheldon - Ugmonk - Path to nowhere

Eric Terry

Eric Terry is the designer of the amazing stuff at LintyFresh.

Eric Terry - Lintyfresh - Keith the quiet

Shepard Fairey

As we all know, Shepard Fairey is Obey Giant. They also do Obey Clothing.

Shepard Fairey - Obey Giant - Rock the vote poster - Inauguration poster - Bauhaus band

Shepard Fairey - Obey Clothing - Obey your computerShepard Fairey - Obey Clothing - Obey trademark