What began as a WordPress blog with just 14 followers has, in four years time, morphed into a streetwear brand with a flagship store in the Short North.
Located at 1104 N. High St., Kingsrowe sells T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, shorts, and snapbacks. Though the clothes are only available in men’s sizes, there’s no reason the ladies can’t wear them, too, said Dionte Johnson, one of the label’s co-founders.
“A T-shirt is a T-shirt− your confidence and style makes it come to life,” he added.
Kingsrowe is named for a street on Columbus’s east side; it’s where Johnson and his co-founders grew up.
Though there were plans to sell apparel from the start, Kingsrowe originated as an online forum for its team’s pop culture-related musings about everything from urban slang going mainstream to whichever mixtape they were into at the moment.
“We printed maybe one batch of shirts all of 2008,” Johnson said.
However, retail isn’t foreign territory. In 2010, Johnson took over Short North sneaker and streetwear boutique Sole Classics.
“We’ve been doing very good numbers the past two years out of Sole Classics,” he said. “As we outgrew our last office space, the two options that came up were get a warehouse or storefront. The numbers worked and the timing was right, so we [got a storefront].”
Kingsrowe’s design team doesn’t necessarily subscribe to one aesthetic, so the store’s merchandise varies.
“It’s not like you’re going to find a boat oar or a crown in every graphic, or a bird, or even a certain look,” Johnson said, adding that the team is influenced by what they see on a daily basis.
“We are just starting to get our feet wet with more cut-and-sew pieces and expect to start introducing them sooner rather than later,” he said.
Eventually, Kingsrowe would like to house another brand or two in its retail space− a goal that shouldn’t be difficult to meet, as the streetwear industry is alive and well in Columbus, according to Johnson.
“The culture is here and has been for some time,” he said. “We just never had a brand to support until the recent emergence of HOMAGE. We are hoping that people take our lead to see that we can create things right here in Central Ohio without needing to have a big city co-sign or without moving away.”