New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
Phone: (908) 964-1010
Over recent years, New Brunswick has continued to be remodeled into a metropolitan backdrop for new businesses, specialty stores, and boutiques. In the fall of 2012, lifestyle boutique Syndicated opened its doors for New Brunswick consumers and college students alike to offer streetwear, unique lifestyle accessories, and numerous art supplies. Given Syndicated’s metro location and ties to the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus, American Beau decided to take the liberty of contacting owner Matthew Shubitz to discuss his motives in opening the store and the direction for the store in the near future. Read below.
Explain the creative process behind founding/establishing the Syndicated franchise and your (the founders) reasoning behind wanting to become entrepreneurs in the high-risk/high-reward clothing franchise business.
I was becoming increasingly more discouraged with the direction that the mall based retailer that we (the Syndicated full timers and I) had all been working for was heading. I decided (as the others already had) to leave there for something else…different…better.
We wanted to have not only a store, but a showcase for “the lifestyle”. If it’s creative and cool (in the humble opinion of the Syndicated Associates), then we’ll probably be game to try it.
So the merchandise we carry is also influenced by our personal passions and the store we wanted would sell hard to acquire brands and stuff that we thought was useful and unique…if not occasionally a little bit twisted. We’ve been among the first stores to bring brands like Rook, Illest, and Pink Dolphin to NJ. We have our own Syndicated/LiveWrong brands of clothing and assorted accoutrement to go with, and we’ve also been able to give promising new local brands and designers their first retail store exposure.
Syndicated’s main audience pertains to admirers of streetwear. What drove you guys to make Syndicated appeal to this specific audience? Is there a certain aesthetic the store tries to abide by?
I guess what drove us to choose streetwear in particular is the fact that these are the styles and designs we would buy for ourselves. I’m not exactly our “niche target customer”, but I wear a lot of the brands we sell. And I offer creative direction for some of the Syndicated brand designs as well.
When we go to the trade shows for gifts and merchandise, we look for cool, unique, and useful things we would buy for our own use or to give as gifts. But we try to keep things a little bit edgier…like the VooDoo Doll Cutting Board with Backstabbing Knife included…sometimes hovering on the line of not quite totally socially accessible…but unique, and usually humorous (to us, at least).
What brands have had the longest tenure within the store? What new labels are you guys excited to bring to the store and why?
We’ll keep buying and selling the brands that we think have the hottest designs and keep their exclusivity. We treat the brands we carry like the old Yogi-ism that says “No one goes there anymore…it’s too crowded”…If you start finding the brand all over and everywhere else, you can pretty much guarantee that we will or already have stopped carrying it.
As far as new labels, we are expecting some new brands that are starting to cook in LA and San Francisco, but we’re also looking forward to new stuff from old friends like Mighty Healthy and Black Scale.
Explain your reasoning behind your transition from Union to New Brunswick. What was the deciding factor to uproot and come to NB? Was the college community of the city a main component in your decision to come?
Our store on Route 22 in Union was a great place for Syndicated to begin because most of the major roads in Jersey led to Syndicated Clothing on 22. Big windows looking out on 22 and the Parkway literally in our backyard. But I always had New Brunswick in mind for our flagship store. In Union, we saw a good 30% of our customers were coming up from this area, and one of our most successful events in Union was the RU SYNDICATED BBQ, so that only strengthened my desire to be here…and now I don’t have to make a special detour to make a stop at the Grease Trucks…it’s on my way to the store now.
What exactly made you choose George Street for your location?
At first we were actually looking to be either on Easton Ave or George Street, but we’re glad we wound up on George. We are in the heart of the Theater and Business District of New Brunswick, and around the corner from the Mason Gross School of the Arts (and we shamelessly offer discounts on art supplies to the art students and professors). The space was big enough to allow the significant addition of the Montana Black Spray Paints and all the crazy gift and accessory items, and still have room for art displays and shows.
What is the thought process behind getting an account with different clothing labels? Is there certain of rarity and/or exclusiveness you want for every piece of clothing?
We have a good reputation in this market, mostly because Ruperto, our Chief Procurement Officer, has been tight with many of the West Coast Streetwear companies for as long as I’ve known him, and Pert and I have been working together now for over 15 years. He knows what’s hot and gets us exclusive brands and limited edition releases. We look at new releases and collections every week from vendors who want to have their goods in our store, and we tend to be very selective.
Trends are always an essential aspect to the streetwear fashion industry/scene. When it comes to the process of choosing pieces for the store how much does trends factor into the choosing of clothing?
With a lot of our own designs, the new trend of the minute may even be the deciding factor. Our new “Syndicated Slugger Powerized” design was done on a crew neck sweatshirt and a tee shirt for the first run production, but we’re going to do a new run for spring on a raglan because, well hey, it’s one of the trends for spring. Some of the vendors we deal with are the ones that set the trends.
I have visited the store multiple times in the past couple months and I’ve been told of numerous “open mics” that the store has held. Is there a vision for Syndicated to be more than a clothing store or to further its reach into music and/or art retailing?
In the short time we’ve been in New Brunswick, we’ve hosted some great open mic nights, and this one coming up on Saturday that I hope you’ll be able to make. We like the open mic nights and other Syndicated presented or attended special events because they’re usually a blast with an incredible cast of characters turning out…and people get to know us. I wouldn’t say I have a vision to be something other than what we’ve become, but I’m very happy that these artists want to be involved or associated with us because we have these events that offer a creative outlet and venue, and often presents us with other interesting opportunities.
If a local clothing label was looking to get an account with Syndicated, how would they go about doing so? Are there stipulations for establishing an account?
Some of my best moments in the store have been when a local designer, who had never had product in a store before Syndicated brought it in for sale, sees his first retail sale being rung up. Here in New Brunswick, we’ve been seeing some great design talents and we’ve had a LOT of requests. We would ask that anyone with a line of clothing or merchandise they would like us to consider selling, please send your stuff (pix, graphics, propaganda, etc) to here along with any info about you and your brand/company that you think we’d need to know to decide to carry your stuff…or you can stop in, get to know us, and after a while, casually mention that you’ve done some design work and you think your stuff is all that, and oh, by the way who would I have to show it to…and then we will gladly tell you to please send your stuff to email@example.com…but if we’ve really gotten to know you, you should tell us who you are so we can take extra special care to CAREFULLY look at what you’ve sent. If we think you’ve got a good thing going, we’ll work out the details and bring your stuff in.
What can customers and future customers expect from Syndicated in the near future? In which ways is the store trying to increase its marketing and exposure around New Brunswick?
Look for more events…in the past we’ve done Video Game Competitions (a 10 year old son of an employee took 1st place in our Call of Duty Competition 2 years ago), so that’ll be happening in the near future. Art shows and exhibitions, music and performance art and Syndicated sponsored outside (the store) events like car shows and fashion shows.
And look for constantly changing merchandise…
Photography: Michael Torres (@FuckingTorres)