As the founder of Onnit, Aubrey Marcus has a reputation for finding things that people want and making them more want-able. Whether it was taking the nootropic game to a new level with the creation of the best-selling Alpha BRAIN®, or casting sculptures of ferocious primates into kettlebells for the Primal Kettlebells line, Marcus doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel but rather finds ways to make it roll a little smoother—or with a little more style.
That’s the idea behind his new clothing line, the Aubrey Marcus Collection: taking classic men’s fashions and adding the details that make something as simple as a cotton T-shirt turn heads, and, more importantly, express how you want to look and feel better than any off-the-rack clothes could. The line represents a long journey Marcus has taken to find his own authentic sense of style, and he hopes it will help you do the same.
The Clothes The Man Made: The Aubrey Marcus Collection
We pumped a few cups of MCT-infused coffee into the boss man and asked him to explain how the Aubrey Marcus Collection can do for your wardrobe what gorilla kettlebells have done for bad-ass garage gyms everywhere.
Onnit: You’re known mainly as the founder of a fast-rising fitness product and education brand. Why did you decide to create an eponymous fashion line?
Aubrey Marcus: Style and fashion are a big part of my life. I really enjoy them and always have. But living in Austin [Texas], I literally have zero shops that I can go to. The style just isn’t there. And Austin is a pretty progressive place. It’s not like I’m living somewhere deep in the Dust Bowl where there’s nowhere to shop but Walmart. I’m in Austin and I still can’t find clothes.
I like to push the boundaries a little bit more with the fabrics, with the cuts, with the styles that I wear than what is available here. So, knowing that, I thought, “What if I curate a collection for people all over the country—myself included—that allows them to reliably find well-constructed, well-designed fashion that pushes the boundaries?”
Like a lot of things we’ve created at Onnit, the AM collection started out based on needs that I had. I’m not that unusual of a guy. If I have a need, I know other people will have that need too.
Did you design the clothes yourself?
I co-designed the collection, but really, I’m more of a curator. I’m not a creative visionary that can sketch out what I want. But [Onnit’s Apparel Manager] Stephanie Garrett might be, and between her and our Italian designer partner, Giuseppe, they’ve shown me a bunch of stuff that I’ve loved and other stuff where I’ve thought, “I would dig it if we tweaked a few things,” and then suggested them.
What is it about Giuseppe’s designs that you like?
Italy has always been a few years ahead of most everywhere else when it comes to fashion. It’s like fast forwarding to our future in a year or two. There are elements to their style and what Giuseppe has done—the asymmetrical cut on the shirts that we have, the unfinished hem on the sleeves and collar—that you wouldn’t have seen at all a few years ago except maybe in LA or Europe. It’s becoming more common now but in most places it’s still hard to find those kinds of details.
What do those details—the asymmetrical cuts and unfinished hems—represent to you?
You know, in my worst fashion era, I used to wear Ed Hardy and Christian Audigier shirts. I had some of the ones with the foil and the rhinestones [laughs]. It was like, how much shit can you put on a shirt? It was a two-pound shirt! Those days are long gone.
Look at me now [indicating his current outfit]. I’m wearing a simple white tee with a different fabric and slightly different cuts and design elements, but it’s those slightly different design elements that take a white tee and elevate it. It has the right fit and just the right tweaks to make it unique. So it’s not like popping open a bag of your dad’s Hanes shirts. This collection is something you can own. That represents you and highlights your own style.
I think these shirts catch people off guard. You’ll have those little moments where people see it on you and go, “Oh, shit! What’s that?” I think that’s what good fashion does. It stops people for a second and makes them think, “Man, look at that.” Obviously, fashion can go too far and somebody can be wearing something that just looks crazy, but I’m interested in pushing the boundaries a little bit while keeping things simple.
All these clothes are simple and understated. We have a hoodie that we call the Gi Sweatshirt. It’s not wildly dissimilar from other nice hoodies that you’ve seen, but there are little subtle details, like the finish of the hem. The four rows of stitching along the edges are similar to the finishings that you’ll find on a jiu-jitsu gi uniform. We all have open hoodies that have zippers. So instead of finishing it with a zipper, this hoodie folds over itself and we use leather loop closures. A subtle detail took this basic thing and elevated it to something cooler.
Speaking of the Gi Sweatshirt, some of these clothes seem to have a martial theme. Is that what you were going for with the collection?
You could say that. The Chop Tee has clean-cut edges like it’s been slashed by a sword. It looks like the bottom was just cleaved off.
There wasn’t an intention to make this line clothing for a modern-day warrior or anything like that, but at the same time, look around my office. I have a samurai sword, armor… that theme is a part of who I am. So it’s natural that the collection would reflect that without even trying. I’m automatically going to tilt that direction.
Some of the shirts feature prints of dogs. What are those about?
To me, they represent an emotion. We have a Doberman blended with a guy who’s smoking a cigarette and looking away. It kind of implies an “I just don’t give a fuck” attitude. A Doberman is a dog that doesn’t give a fuck because it’s the king of the junkyard. So, when you’re feeling it, that’s your I-just-don’t-give-a-fuck shirt.
Then the bull terrier tank top is saying, “Hey, I’m here to party.” It’s an image of a bull terrier wearing an embellished, over-the-top jacket, which essentially communicates that “I’m a playful, party animal at heart.”
Is there anything about the collection that reflects how you’ve grown as a person?
It’s settled into how I want to express myself, which these days is simple and down to earth but a little bit unique. In high school, my attitude was, “Don’t look at me. I’m scared. I want to totally blend in.” But, like most people, you burst forth from that and want to be noticed. Then it becomes all about being loud. “Hey, world, look at me. I exist.” And that’s what my fashion represented for a while.
And then you graduate from that to “I don’t need the world to notice me. I want to wear what I want to wear and I want to express myself for who I really am.” That’s the evolution that this clothing line represents. What’s the “me” of the future? I don’t know, but I have a hard time imagining that it’s going to change in the expression of what that is.
The line is for men. What kind of man did you have in mind when putting it together?
Someone who doesn’t need to be super flashy. Doesn’t feel compelled to wear something that screams, “Look at me.” But at the same time, someone who appreciates style, uniqueness, and the construction of the clothes they put on. It’s for someone who gives a shit about how he looks but doesn’t need everybody else to look at him. Some of the clothes have rough edges and look casual, but they’re carefully designed lifestyle wear and very well made.
A lot of the Onnit audience is very fit. Can these clothes accommodate people who are too muscular or lean to fit in standard, off-the-rack clothes?
Absolutely. The jeans are drawstring, stretchy jeans. This whole line is for people who aren’t sedentary and want to be free to move. As you’re working at your stand-up desk, you can stretch out in these pants, or drop into a squat if you want. All the clothes stretch, whether it’s the knit blazer, the joggers, the hoodie, the shirt. Everything is something you can move around in.
I think that’s really important. We need to be able to move. You don’t want to wear something that binds you up. If your kid wants to play, you want to be able to say “yes,” not, “I’d pick you up but my knees will rip my pants” [laughs]. The collection will be more comfortable for athletic guys who are maybe too wide in the shoulders and thighs for most clothes.
The AM Collection shoes come in bags, not boxes. Why?
Most of the times I’ve bought shoes, the boxes went from the store to my house and then immediately to the trash, and that really seems like a waste. You need boxes when you need boxes. When you don’t need boxes, why waste the paper? It’s hard to be completely carbon neutral and create zero waste, but when you have the opportunity to reduce waste, you should make that choice. While it’s not going to make a huge difference to planet Earth to sell shoes out of bags and not boxes, it is symbolic that we had a choice and we made the best choice we could.
Some fans of yours might be wondering how the AM Collection differs from Spase, a previous line you had.
Spase was more about bringing awareness to certain topics that were dear to my heart—plant medicines, causes. We had a shirt that was a combination of an orca and a sad circus clown because at Sea World the orcas are like sad circus clowns being made to perform for people. So that was me taking two things I love—social causes and fashion—and trying to combine them into one. It was cool, and I think it had its moment, but really, at the core of it, I decided that I’m doing a lot to raise awareness for causes through other means as it is. I don’t need to combine them with fashion to get the word out. I can just focus on fashion for fashion’s sake.
If there are causes that make sense to bring in, we certainly will, and you might see some of those Spase designs in the Aubrey Marcus Collection, but that’s not the main intention.
What is the difference between Aubrey Marcus as a brand and Onnit?
Onnit is a company that’s a collection of the ideas, the ethos, the gravity of hundreds of people… thousands of people. Maybe even hundreds of thousands of people [laughs]. It’s all of our customers and everyone who’s interacted with it. And I’m a guy. Onnit isn’t me. Onnit is its own entity. I often have to take a moment and reflect on that. While I’ve had a major role in raising this child, Onnit is not me. It’s the same as with any parent—your kid is not you. Maybe it has some tendencies, some values you taught it, but Onnit is its own organism. AM is one person with all his strengths and weaknesses, desires and flaws—the whole gamut.
At the same time, Onnit and AM carry a very similar ethos and we’re very interconnected, so it doesn’t make sense to have a hard line between them. Nor does it make sense to have no line at all. Onnit may use [Director of Human Optimization] Kyle Kingsbury to push out a video or our trainers to inspire people—everybody here is creating something. But in AM, I’m curating a specific type of fashion. It’s my taste and people who have similar taste will identify with it. And, ultimately, fashion is about preference. It’s not about science, like the supplements, the nutrition, and the workouts at Onnit are. This type of fashion isn’t about data. It’s about, “Do I like this? Is this cool?”
To answer you more directly, I’d say Onnit as a company offers sportswear for customers who want to conquer the gym and the AM collection is for conquering your life outside the gym. It serves the same person in two different settings.
Why is the collection being sold only on Onnit.com?
There are so many things being sold there already, I didn’t want people to have to leave to go to aubreymarcus.com. I thought it would be frustrating to click over if you also wanted to pick up some Alpha BRAIN® or something, so we’re putting everything in one place. On onnit.com, you can shop for my collection, get a performance fleece, supplements, whatever you want all at the same time. Onnit and AM have a lot of the same customers anyway, and Onnit specializes in customer service and the delivery of goods.
What’s your advice on where to start in shopping this collection?
I think one of the challenges in shopping for anything online is recognizing how well it’s going to fit. My advice would be to try a shirt. Buy that shirt, put it on, and see how it feels. See how you like the construction, the fabric, and see what you think. And then you’ll have a pretty good idea of how the rest of the stuff is going to look and feel. There are brands out there that, when I see one of their shirts, I know how it’s going to feel. So give it a shot. After you try it, I think you’ll gain greater faith in the rest.
The Aubrey Marcus Collection is available HERE.