Spray can inspiration: ‘Streets wear the brand’ for graffiti-influenced Clever Fools By Paul cannon for Startland News

t’s a brand already plastered across the Crossroads Arts District, skating with increasing reach into the broader Kansas City fashion scene, Clever Fools creator Alex Trinkle said.

All courtesy of guerrilla marketing and effectively mysterious social media for the clothing line.

“The streets actually wear the brand,” said Trinkle, echoing the brand’s motto. “As in fliers, stickers, graffiti, and the walls you see painted downtown.”

Those designs mimic the graffiti- and skateboard-inspired images on Clever Fools’ freshly printed tees and jackets, he said.

“That’s who I am,” Trinkle said simply.

Do it better

On a muggy summer day in 2016, Trinkle was skateboarding near Harrison and Fifth streets in Kansas City when he realized he could put his own spin on an already-saturated merch market in the metro.

“All my friends were starting their own brands. Ripping off logos, like Coca-Cola labels, North Face,” he said. “I was thinking, well I could probably do this a lot better.’”

Hoping to capitalize on his own underground roots in skateboarding and graffiti, Trinkle quickly searched out a brand name to match his youthful creativity.

“Clever” rose to the top, he said.

Kansas City without the ‘KC’

Starting with a print-making kit from Hobby Lobby, Trinkle first debuted Clever Fools in nearby Lawrence where it first gained public recognition via Shark Surf Shop.

Fully breaking into the competitive Kansas City market was another animal, hes aid.

“Clever Fools is trying to expand more into the city. I just know coming from street wear, it’s hard to sell your brand unless it’s well known,” said Trinkle.

One differentiator for the clothing line? It’s not focused on being another piece of regional apparel with “Kansas City” emblazoned across every shirt, he said.

“It’s not what the brand is. We did not want it to be about Kansas City specifically,” said Trinkle.

Clever Fools’ printmaking and design, however, boast Kansas City ties — particularly the suburban Merriam warehouse where the clothing line gets its unique look.

“[The location provides] us more production, and independence,” said Trinkle.

Just ‘Keep It Street’

Accurately representing the culture showcased in Clever Fools’ merch remains critical for the brand, he said, describing a now-under-development “Keeping it Street” blogging site.

“It’s a blog about skateboarders and graffiti writers. Dope, talented artists, and skateboarders we look up to,” said Trinkle.

Clever Fools also plans to announce a partnership with a leading skateboarding subscription box company, he teased.

“We have been collaborating with Fun Box Monthly. It’s a dope opportunity where we can receive more brand awareness,” said Trinkle.

Interested skaters and artists can sign up every month to receive skate goods. Being among those items would give Clever Fools a more nationwide scope, he said, noting Kansas City’s central location provides opportunities for quick coast-to-coast shipping.