A trending fashion line that promotes individuality may sound like an oxymoron, but the founders of Memphis-based BeU Clothing don't think it has to be.
Nor do the many fans of this urban apparel line created by friends Josh Smith, Jason Humber, and Jared Wallace. They developed BeU Clothing to promote a straightforward message: Just be yourself.
"The world tries to make you into what they want you to be, so we just encourage people to be themselves no matter what they're doing," Smith said. "An athlete, a musician, or a blue-collar worker, we encourage you to be you."
BeU launched in late 2012 but recently found its way into local retailers such as the Southaven Mall's iCon clothing store, the Midtown Skate Shop, and Whatever on Highland. They have also created a website, beuclothingco.com, where fans can order various styles of T-shirts, tank tops, hoodies, sweatshirts, and hats ranging from $25 to $40.
BeU's latest item, a shirt emblazoned with the words "Memphis is Music," displays a pair of headphones wrapped around a microphone. On the back of the shirt, a long list of Memphis-based artists celebrates some of the city's best talent, from Playa Fly and Three 6 Mafia to Eric Gales and Justin Timberlake.
And the company's connection to music doesn't end there. A BeU Clothing mixtape hosted by DJ Rock Steddy and K97’s DJ Larry Live is being prepped for release in September. Featuring songs from Gangsta Boo, Drumma Boy, Juicy J, Yo Gotti, and many more, the 20-track mixtape will be available for download on beuclothingco.com.
"Most of the artists [on the mixtape] are going to be artists that had a little something to do with the clothing line," said DJ Larry Live. "We're basically sending a message that you don't have to be anybody else. Be yourself, and you can accomplish anything that you want to."
The BeU merchandise is primarily pressed by Smith and Humber out of their shop, Custom Plaques, Trophies and Screen Printing in the Broad Avenue Arts District. Wallace, though a Memphis native, currently resides in New York. He's responsible for expanding the BeU clientele to New York and New Jersey. Wallace said BeU Clothing would be featured in select stores in Denver, Colorado, as well.
"If you look at our Instagram, there's [more than 6,000] people following us, and there are probably over 400 pictures of people who've submitted pictures when they buy a shirt," Wallace said. "We've got pictures of people in Japan wearing our stuff. We've got pictures of people in Paris in front of the Eiffel Tower [wearing it]. It's really starting to take off."
The next step for BeU Clothing is expanding into major clothing retailers to reach more people. They also aspire to open a BeU Clothing store in Memphis and add jeans and shoes to the line's collection.
"BeU is more than a name. It's like a lifestyle," said Humber, who came up with the clothing line's moniker. "We reach out to everybody — skateboarders, people in the hip-hop community, people in the gothic community, the gay community. We support everybody and [their] cause."