Brothers In Arms: Andrew Kline of Tradition Boutique/ Strife

The more I become accustomed to the players behind the scenes of the street-wear scene, the more I see the alliance that it has with independent music namely hardcore. As you are about to see, from clothing companies to retailers, many former band mates have a vested interest in the street-wear scene, and for good reason. I’ve been perusing Tradition’s site for sometime now and seeing as one of the owners is in Strife, sounded about right up our alley for an interview on this phenomenal shop and a look into one of the players behind it. Oh, and we also chat about some “possible” Strife news! Be sure to check out and support Tradition, enjoy:

SP: Who are we speaking with and please state your role at Tradition?

My name is Andrew Kline; I am one of the owners of Tradition. I don’t really have a specific role, but I am responsible for the buying, marketing, and event planning. I also put together all of the art shows, contribute to the Tradition brand, and put together a majority of the special projects and collaborations. As an owner, you pretty much have to do everything if you want your business to be successful.

SP: Are there any other players in the company?

AK: Jason Gaines is my business partner. We started Tradition over 4 years ago, and teamwork is essential.

L to R: Andrew Kline and Jason Gaines

SP: From beginning to close, take us through a day in the life of Andrew Kline?

AK: It really depends on the day… I usually get up around 8:30 or so… Take my dog out and do some work on the computer. We update our blog throughout the day, so I usually look for new content in the morning. I will head to the shop at about 10:15. When I am at Tradition I do the normal day to day stuff connected with running a store. Both of us are on the floor selling and helping customers as well. After work I head home and grab something to eat.  Sometimes I will work on music, other times I will just chill. I always try to go out and support artists, musicians, and bands whenever I can as well.

SP: You had gone from playing guitar in Strife to working in the fashion industry, how did Tradition come out of this?

AK: I have always had an interest in fashion… I worked at skate shops in the early days. When Strife stopped touring full time I got a job working at Fred Segal. Fred Segal is one of the most well known and influential clothing boutiques in the U.S., and I learned a lot working there. I eventually became a store manager and the men’s buyer. Jason ran Conveyor, a sneaker boutique in Fred Segal Santa Monica. We both had aspirations of one day owning our own store and we put our heads together and started working on a plan.

Westlake, CA Location

SP: Give us a rundown of the brands (small and large) you’re currently stocking. From reading past interviews I see that you love working with up and coming brands. What is it that catches your eye with new brands?

AK: We carry a wide range of brands… The bigger, more established brands include The Hundreds, Crooks & Castles, Nike, Diamond, Black Scale, Fresh Jive, and more. We also stock a lot of up and coming brands like Soul Assassins, Bloodbath, Pros & Cons, Loud & Obnoxious, and more. I feel like these young brands are essential to our business. Exclusivity is dead, and once a brand reaches a certain point they start selling to everyone including mall stores. At some point our customers are not going to want a brand that has become mainstream and a brand that everyone is wearing. These customers really appreciate the newer smaller brands that you are not going to find anywhere else. We also stock out own Tradition brand which we will really be expanding this year.

Tradition/ Terror collab tee for "The Damned, the Shamed"

Tradition/ Terror KOTF collab tee

Tradition/ Terror KOTF collab tee back

SP: From collaboration tees with Terror and Soul Assassins can you shed some light on any other music collab projects in the works?

AK: We actually did 2 tees with Terror and 2 tees with Soul Assassins. I have known the guys from Terror for a really long time… They are great guys and one of my favorite hardcore bands. We did a tee to help push their new album, Keepers of the Faith, and before that a tee to push their album The Damned the Shamed.

We did a tee with Revelation Records for a book release party that we did for a book on 90’s hardcore called Burning Fight. Revelation was one of my favorite labels growing up, so it is really cool to have a shirt with our logo and theirs.

We also did a really cool collaboration with Raekwon from the Wu Tang Clan and Akomplice. We did a limited edition t-shirt and launched it with an in store performance from Raekwon. I am a huge hip hop fan, so working with Soul Assassins was a no brainer… I often work with Muggs, and we have some new clothing projects releasing in the next few months as well.

I like to do projects that are a little different and a little outside of the box… There are definitely some new music projects in the works, but nothing I can speak about until they are set in stone.

I did however get an email about a project with one of the best Straight Edge Hardcore bands from the late 80’s… I’m really hoping that this is going to happen.

We do a lot of in store events and have had performances from Raekwon, DJ Muggs, Sick Jacken, Fashawn, Self Scientific, Strong Arm Steady, El Prez,  Hawdwerk & Jansport J, Young De, Get Busy Committee, and more.

SP: There is a lot that goes into the start up and funding of a brick and mortar store. For those looking to do what you’ve done with Tradition, what two main pieces of advice could you give?

AK: Honestly… Don’t do it! But if you are going to do it, do it because you love it and not to get rich! There is so much work that goes into running your own business, and it’s not as glamorous as it may seem. There are so many stores right now and the market is really saturated.

Ventura, CA Location

SP: Y’all recently opened your second location so business must be good; given these somewhat unstable economic times what do you think your key to success has been thus far?

AK: Above anything I would say customer service. The customer is the most important aspect of your business, and without them you are nothing. We do our best to keep our customer happy and excited about coming in and spending their money with us. Aside from that, it’s all about building relationships and not burning bridges.

SP: In many regards, street-wear and hardcore have quite a bit in common in terms of values and exclusiveness, do you agree with this statement?

AK: For sure. I feel that a lot of the brands have the same DIY ethic that we had when we started our brand. It’s also a labor of love and not just about the money. Any kid can grab a guitar and start a band, and in the same sense any kid can start their own brand. It’s all about being different, original, and true to yourself.

SP: Has your involvement in the scene shaped the way that you operate your business any? If so, in what way?

AK: I don’t think directly, but hardcore and punk shaped me and I carry many of these ethics with me in everything that I do.

In-Store Performance

SP: Besides your involvement in hardcore, I see that you also produce Hip-Hop. Any new projects on the boards we can look out for?

AK: I have my first hip hop album called “Carry on Tradition” releasing this year. I produced the whole album and it features a bunch of OG s and newcomers such as B-Real, Ras Kass, Ryu, Chace Infinite, Planet Asia, Apathy, Young De, Sick Jacken, Damani, El Prez, Oseeola, and more. I am super excited about this project. We are dropping a few videos for it, and we will be working on some t-shirt collaborations when it comes out.

SP: Strife recently did some reunion shows on the East Coast so you know I’ve got to ask some questions on that. Like we’ve seen with Earth Crisis, any chance of more in the works or perhaps (holds breath) some new material?

AK: We just did an East Coast tour in November.  We are heading to Japan at the end of the month and then South America in February. There are some talks about recording some new material, but nothing definite yet.

SP: Strife was quite a monumental band in the 90’s hardcore scene. From then to now how do you feel about the current state of the scene?

AK: I think the current hardcore scene is awesome. Cali is killing it right now with bands like Alpha & Omega, Terror, Rotting Out, Piece by Piece, Downpressor, Take Offense, and more.

SP: Do you have any current music projects that we can peruse?

AK: I am pretty busy with Strife and my hip hop project. I started a hardcore band called Evacuate that I am trying to get off the ground at some point too. I have filled in for bands like Internal Affairs, Piece by Piece, and Absolute Madness, so you may be able to catch me at a live show with one of them at some point as well.

Drew getting some hang-time at the Strife reunion show

SP: You seemingly have quite a bit on your plate. How does Andrew like to spend his “free” time?

AK: Chilling, working on music, checking out bands, watching movies, etc.

SP: That about wraps her up brother, thanks very much for versing with us, feel free to drop some shouts and a favorite quote if you can fit it in?

AK: No problem man… Check out the store if you can www.shoptradition.com or follow us on Twitter. Our online store is up and running, so even if you are out of state you can grab something!

G-SP

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About stillproudclothing

Keeping the scene alive, one tee at a time!
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3 Responses to Brothers In Arms: Andrew Kline of Tradition Boutique/ Strife

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