Seattle-based independent record label Sub Pop Records has pretty much always been the cool kid, boasting early releases by luminary grunge bands Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden.
Founded by Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman in 1988, Sub Pop turns 30 this year – and is planning a big summer birthday festival that’s free and open to the public.
“In music industry years, that’s pretty good,” says Amanda Graham, production manager at Sub Pop. “Our corner of the market is a shifting landscape. It’s not lost on us how lucky we are to still be around, putting out records across a spectrum of tastes and representing the artists we love.”
And they do put out lots of records: Sub Pop’s considerable roster includes Sebadoh, Sunny Day Real Estate, Band of Horses, Flight of the Conchords, Fleet Foxes and The Head and the Heart. “We’ve been around long enough to have a significant history behind us, but we don’t shy away from experimenting,” Graham says.
And we’re impressed: Along with hosting a bunch of pop-up shops, Sub Pop opened a retail store in the Sea-Tac Airport four years ago.
“Opening our retail shop gave us a unique opportunity to expand our product line, and that’s when we started bringing in more Alternative pieces,” Graham says. “We work with an amazing network of local independent printing, sewing and embroidery shops to customize goods to our artists’ and designers’ specifications.”
Sub Pop needs to be on-point when matching the perfect garment to each artist’s objectives and priorities, often on tight timelines. “Some artists care most about specific colors or materials, while others are more cost or socially conscious,” says Graham, who stresses her staff’s job is to be good listeners and bring their artists’ visions to life.
While the record label uses a lot of our women’s tees, hoodies, joggers and hats, lately the Sub pop team has gotten more requests for boxy cropped cuts, unisex fits, pastel hues, all-over prints and soft comfortable fabrics.
“We choose Alternative garments for their softness, stylish cuts and rich colors, along with the company’s sustainable practices,”
-AMANDA GRAHAM, SUB POP RECORDS
“Artists are thinking beyond the good ol’ tour T-shirt, although that remains a touring band’s bread and butter. They’re looking at more accessories like hats and totes, which travel easily.”
One of Sub Pop’s all-time best sellers was a decorated Champ Eco Fleece Sweatshirt. “That one was an instant classic for us, and you know it’s comfy when it becomes a staff favorite,” Graham says.