Dallas graphic designer John March turned his eye toward apparel with Big Ol’ Boy, his clothing line for bearish gents
RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer
When John March wants something done right, he does it himself — or rather, if he wants it to fit right, he makes it himself.
March was frustrated that comfortable clothing options for him and his bear friends were limited and hardly any fun stylewise. Most men would just, ummm, grin and bear it, but not March: With a few ideas and determination, he set out to create a line that offered quality clothes with some winks along the way.
“Bears, muscled guys and bigger men tend to be an underserved market when it comes to clothing,” March says. “Part of my marketing theory was to start with bears because I think of myself as a member of the community and I think I have an idea of what they like.”
A graphic designer by trade, March didn’t see much out there that was all that appealing from a design standpoint. At big and tall shops, apparel for larger men was either of poor quality, way overpriced or both. In essence, bigger men were sort of held hostage by not having anyone willing to make stylish clothes that fit.
That was the genesis of Big Ol’ Boy.
With some humor and a stockpile of sketches, last spring March started his online store of shirts and caps that cater to big guys. Ever since, he’s been making an impression in the community and beyond.
“We’ve had lots of women calling orders in for their own big boys,” March says. “There are companies out there that cater to bears, but it’s just sort of generic. I think we’ve seen that people embrace the idea of a brand and by creating an overall brand geared toward bears and big men, then they might appreciate the fact someone is thinking about them.”
Currently, March’s line is composed of short- and long-sleeved tees with whimsical designs.
Sport graphics and slogans such as “Big Ol’ Jock” with a jockstrap image or “Big Ol’ Biker Boy” that takes a spin off the Harley-Davidson logo have proved popular with his gay following. But his biggest seller is a Tabasco-like label with “Hot Stuff Spicy & Saucy” sprawled across it. You’d almost think he’d get sued for copyright infringement.
“Fortunately, I know enough about trademark and copyright laws to do this,” he says. “But I did check with my lawyer. The difference is that I’m using this as parody and not on a competing product. But I wanted to use images that are rooted deep in our sensibilities like the logo or constellations for the Ursa Major shirt.”
Of course, March targeted what he knew, and teamed up with the guys of BearDance and the Dallas Bears for this year’s Texas Bear Round Up. It was obvious but also a stroke of genius.
“The feedback has been great,” he beams. “We did sell some at the TBRU vendor market and we did well with the BearDance events. I plan to work with them in the future.”
March recently added to the Big Ol’ Boy with a new line of polos — his first addition to the brand. With more than 300 design concepts in his catalog, he expects to introduce a new graphic tee on a consistent basis.
“With the polos, guys can wear them to work,” he says. “We have other ideas for items beyond that even. With each new item, we want to grow to a point to offer a wide range of items, build a community of loyal customers and listen to what they want.”
Although he wouldn’t consider himself a fashion designer, he does include himself as a client, which helps in creating his looks. With a group of friends as his sounding board, he would say that Big Ol’ Boy very much reflects his sensibility — even if he is more a preppy than a T-shirt guy.
This being his first business venture, March had to learn fast. Whether it was translating graphic art onto fabric or learning the benefits of ringspun cotton, he’s found his groove.
“I would like people to discover this sort of organically,” he says. “Maybe they’ll see the shirt on somebody or run across it online. Sure I may not be much of a T-shirt person, but now I get to make my own and I’ve never seen one I didn’t like!”
To see the collection, visit BigOlBoy.com.
LOVE THIS T
Making activism fashionable, Revenge Is has created the “All Love Is Equal” tee (also a tank). Made of eco-friendly materials, the line means to spread the gay-friendly message that all people should have the right to marry … and look hot while saying it. Five percent of net sales benefit Marriage Equality USA.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.