I did not expect a Sporty & Rich sunflower yellow sweatshirt to be my first Jawnz purchase of the new decade. For those that only know Emily Oberg for her pretty selfies on IG, it would be easy to dismiss her apparel line as just another shameless individual merch brand lurking on the internet. It’s only when you take the time to digest the brand do you begin to realize her business is a masterclass in online branding. Sporty & Rich is laying down the blueprint in how to captivate an increasingly impatient online audience.
Being someone who was in tune with the culture I knew of Oberg from her days of interviewing Hypebeasts at Supreme drops via Complex Media. She disappeared from my radar when she stopped interviewing teenage boys and resellers. But eventually re-appeared on my Instagram explore page.
Since Instagram has become the de facto business card for every fashion brand, it is an asset when you can captivate anyone who lands on your grid. A few thumbs flicks and taps and you can instantly get a feel for Sporty & Rich. Since the brand first began as a mood board it comes to surprise the curated images linger with you. The aesthetic of the brand is easily identifiable even without seeing any of the apparel. Images of 90’s celebrity street style, retro automobiles, well-designed spaces, and cheeky memes all work together to create an aspirational aura. It’s a brand for romantics. It’s for dreamers who resonate with images of a mid 30 yr old Jerry Senefild, retro Porsches, and a tightly cropped vintage photo of the Amalfi coast. The brand captures that era with stunning accuracy. The nostalgia hits hard, and it feels pretty damn good.
The collection itself is a direct reflection of Oberg’s personal style which leans heavy on timelessness. The shirts look great with retro staples such as straight leg jeans, classic sneakers, and if you have the funds, a Rolex. Oberg preaches sustainability and the need to buy less. The apparel is made in the USA in Los Angeles where workers are paid fair wages with eco-friendly cotton. The point isn’t to hoard Sporty & Rich gear like you would with a hotshot streetwear brand. Simply wear what you have often.
Buying into Internet clothing brands always felt like taking a bite from a knock off Big Mac, it’s always unoriginal. There are the ones that provide a more affordable alternative to what is currently trending. Or brands who leverage social media to offer boring basics to tech bros. You’re either buying Fear of God inspired sweatpants or a flannel shirt that promotes itself for not being cut too long. We know the Future Is Female. Who would have known that it also holds true in menswear too.