With a humble launch in 2009, Heel Bruise is one of those brands that’s done well by simply loving what they do, working with their friends and building momentum slowly and steadily with no real rush for anything other than making more of the things they want to make. Sounds easy enough, but it’s amazing how many companies get into it for the wrong reasons, blow themselves out by selling themselves out or simply don’t possess the endurance and passion for the long haul. We caught up with pro skater and Heel Bruise co-owner Richard Mulder this week for a short interview about Heel Bruise, its mission and where things are headed with the brand. Here’s some of what he had to say.
There’s obviously a ton of skate and street apparel brands out there making shirts and what not. How is Heel Bruise different from the rest? What makes Heel Bruise, Heel Bruise?
Heel Bruise basically embodies who we are. Myself and my childhood friend Thomas started the brand in 2009. We grew up skateboarding together. Being a skateboarder and getting all the exposure to music and all the other outlets that come along with being a skateboarder—we wanted to portray that. A lot of things that we do come out of what we are and who we are as people. There’s really no gimmicks. When we look at Heel Bruise we’re proud of what we see. Everything we make we wear. We’re not doing it cause it sells. We don’t have to say we’re a skate brand cause we are skaters and our brand naturally goes into other outlets that surround skate. It’s not a marketing plan that’s just where it goes.
So with this eclectic design direction, who would you say identifies most with Heel Bruise?
Our brand really translates well with older skaters. There’s a nostalgic feeling to what we do. We can also tell our story as older skaters to younger skaters. It’s awesome how big skateboarding is with Street League and X-Games and all these big things. Skateboarding is definitely getting the attention it deserves, but there’s a culture there that needs to be preserved and we like to project that in what we do.
You guys are known for you collaboration shirts with artists and other creative people in and around skateboarding. Who have you had a chance to work with thus far and what’s been your favorite project?
We’ve done stuff with Lance Mountain, Diamond, The Chrome Ball Incident, skaters like Aaron Murray and guys like Remio who’s a graffiti artist. But one of the most memobrable was with Eric at The Chrome Ball Incident. It’s really fun to think it out and come up with meaningful collaborations. We wanted to create a keeper that someone would really want. So we did this project called the VHS Project where we pulled some of the most influential and iconic screen grabs of VHS videos that we felt were impressionable, honor skateboarding and stand for all that we love about it. It was one of those shirts where a lot of skate shop managers wanted to get it—the people that could really appreciate skatebaording in the early 90s and late 80s and how it all evolved. That was a really fun project to be a part of.
You guys recently featured De La Soul on your blog. What's your relationship with those guys?
Robbie Jeffers who is a Heel Bruise ambassador knows them and they basically just came over to hang out. We just got a new headquarters and we have a really cool space where people can come and shoot. De La was touring in this area and they needed to get some photos shot for their upcoming album. One of the photos that Robbie shot is going to be in an upcoming Rolling Stone coming out. They’re totally down for Heel Bruise which is really sick.
Can you speak on a few designs currently available now in the CCS Shop? What’s the Leaders Of The Pack shirt all about?
The leaders of the pack shirt was inspired by early athletic shoes that were used for skating. Before there were skate shoe companies that’s what you wore. Those companies paved the way. If you look at any old skate videos from the 80s, those guys were wearing Jordans and stuff like that. When I started skateboarding the only thing I wore were Chuck Taylor High-tops in black. I put a hole in them the first day, but still I learned probably half my tricks in Converse. Those were some iconic brands that really shaped us growing up. We wanted to pay tribute to those companies. They’re not “skate companies”, but they made an impression.
What about the Mexican Blanket shirt graphic?
We’re a Southern California-based brand and so we’re heavily influenced by the latino community here. We wanted to tribute that with this Mexican Blanket idea. We put it in our logo and it’s really that simple. That shirt did really well for us.