Casual Industrees: Two Local Ski Bums With a Fashion Dream

Photo: Casual Industrees

What do two brothers with maxed out credit cards and an idea from 1999 have to do with fashion?  In Seattle, everything.

From my understanding, the goals of a fashion designer are as follows: Attain comfortable fortune, dress outlandishly knowing no one can tell you how ridiculous you look, and somewhere along the line make clothes for those of your ilk. Pretty simple rules to follow.

Photo: Casual Industrees

Luckily, Seattle has Brendan and Daniel Reid: brothers and fashion business partners. They live in West Seattle, and if you’ve ever driven to Alki you’ve probably seen their cluttered front yard, which prominently features a mutant design of Washington State.  This is the headquarters for Casual Industrees, a lucrative clothing brand that began in the chilliest of climates.

“Casual Industrees was formed during the winter of 98-99 on Mt. Baker,” say the brothers. “We had taken the winter off of school, rented a house with three of our friends and got jobs at the mountain. We pooled our resources, abused our credit cards and had the winter of a lifetime riding the largest snowfall in North American history. By the end of that winter we had a new plan in store. The damage deposit from our house would be used as the seed money to start a clothing company called Casual.”

Three orders and one winter season later, interns became employees and all operations moved into the brothers’ house on Alki Beach.  Even with that first ripple of small success, beginnings were slow, putting pressure on bank accounts, patience and refrigerator stock.

“The toughest part about starting Casual for me,” Brendan states, “was probably getting used to the poverty of it all. At first, of course, it was fine. We were in college and used to it to an extent. But there’s a whole lifestyle involved with running your own business that’s centered around long hours, delayed gratification, and commitment to a dream that might not make it. And this goes on for a long time!”

Photo: Casual Industrees

Fashion-mindedly aware of the classics (“We were sick of seeing people around here wearing I heart NY shirts”), the Reid’s wanted to create a similar banner for the Northwest.  Their first designs featured a striped Washington state and the infamous diesel chairlifts of Mt. Baker.  More recently, the Casual team is drawing from an eclectic pool of source material, such as the departure of the Supersonics and Mike Ditka’s coaching career.

“We have only just begun to develop this brand,” they say, “and if we stick to how we originally envisioned it, the ideas we’re trying to represent and give voice to are really timeless and won’t go out of style…stuff like local pride, lifestyle, that’s not going anywhere.”

These days, Casual’s offerings include beanies, women’s tees and hoodies. The brand also produces a line of accessories, like their famous “Can’t go out on Capitol Hill Without Them” beer goggles. From Friday, April 29 to Sunday, May 1, Casual will host an open house at – you guessed it – the headquarters in Alki. Shoppers are encouraged to come for the deals on tees, hats and hoodies – and stay for the live screen printing and beer selection.

Stop by the Casual Web site to sign up for their newsletter, check out designs, find local retailers, subscribe to Casual’s social media or continue to exercise a fashion crush.