Have you seen those cheesy novelty tees? You know the one’s I’m talking about right? Shirts that aim to remake a store brand and Christianize it. Stuff like “OURAPOSTLE” or this one or maybe you’ve seen this one. I always cringe a little bit when I see stuff like this and its honestly what comes to mind when I think of a tee shirt that supposed to represent our faith. I think “where’s the originality? why does this shirt feel so cheap?” Fortunately not all shirts that represent our faith are the same. In the last few years we’ve seen the rise of some brands that have raised the standard of what a faith based brand could be like. Brands like NOTW and S & N, just to name a couple, have definitely elevated the standard in Christian apparel. But there is another name that has been introduced into the scene that has pushed the proverbial “bar” to another notch. Enter: B3AR FRUIT™. B3AR FRUIT™ was birthed in the mind Octavius Newman of Philadelphia, PA. But it wasn’t because he had a burning burden to launch a clothing line to represent Christ to the masses via fashion. He wasn’t foaming at the mouth because there was no one out there giving a proper representation of the excellency of Christ in the arena of urban fashion/street wear. It was a far more simple and honest genesis than that. Newman attended military school so he had to wear uniforms thus making his personal wardrobe fairly small. After being introduced to the urban/skater subculture through the influences of people like Pharrell Williams and Lupe Fiasco, he gravitated towards the style. “I liked the clothes of the urban and street wear culture ” says Newman, “but they just didn’t make my size!” So instead of lamenting that the clothes didn’t come in a comfortable XXL or XXXL (Newman is a self proclaimed “big dude”), he decided to do what some would dream of doing but never get around to doing - he decided to make his own. Armed with a passion for clothes, a devout member of the sneaker-head culture as well as a melding of hip-hop, skater culture and comics he began the process of launching his brand. But it wasn’t until a YouTube video came across his path that the inspiration for what the brand would be began to take shape.
Someone shared a video of fired up, passionate minister and subsequent YouTube sensation Paul Washer preaching from Matthew 7. In it, he talked about how there should be some proof in your life that you believe what you believe. He taught that there should be some sort of fruit that you are a believer. And there it was....”believers bear fruit.”
Its a message Newman believes connects at the heart of everyone, especially those influenced by the urban/street wear subculture. “With statements like ‘Skate or die’ and ‘go hard or go home’ our culture is constantly saying that we need to be about what we say we are about. So when people ask me what is B3AR FRUIT™ about, I’m like ‘you agree that if you’re going to be about something then there should be some proof that you stand for that, right? Well, that’s what B3AR FRUIT™ all about.’ Then I tell them ‘Now, I believe that comes from somewhere deeper than just skating or rhyming and if you want to get into that then cool but if not, then enjoy the shirt.’” And that’s where he aims to make B3AR FRUIT™ a bit different than many other brands. He doesn;t depend solely on the message to connect with the buyer. Though it is steeped in biblical theology which he believes can relate to anyone, Newman isn’t necessarily concerned if the theology isn’t the first thing that speaks to the buyer. “I want the brand to speak to people in various layers. For some people, they just might connect with the art like ‘yo, that’s a pretty dope design.’ Some might just say “this shirt feels GOOD!’ while others will connect with the message itself.” Its an idea that leads him to say very plainly (and actually quite loudly) “I’M NOT MAKING A CHRISTIAN CLOTHING BRAND! Its a lifestyle brand that people can connect with, Christian or not.” Which is why quality of the brand is a very important component of Newman’s approach to the lifestyle brand he’s creating. “No one cares how much Bible you know if what you do is junk. If you are making hamburgers and people say ‘yo this burger has roaches in it!’, people just aren’t going to listen to you.” He goes on to say, “Cultural relevance in urban/street wear is QUALITY. If its not quality then it has no relevance. No one cares about what you rep if it looks bad. They’ll say ‘what you stand for obviously sucks!’ because you aren’t repping it well.” His passion for the quality is not just a matter of gaining respect from those who come across the B3AR FRUIT™ clothing. For him, its a matter of worship. “Excellence is my worship to God. God is great and I aim to give Him my best in everything,” he says passionately.
The lingering question for many though is still “why should I spend my money on B3AR FRUIT™? Should I do it because its Christian and I have to support my brother?” Surprisingly enough, its creator says quite emphatically “NO!” He explains this way: “Don’t buy it because you feel obligated to support my Christian brand. Buy it because you like it. Buy it because you identify with it. Buy it because its a quality shirt with a good design. Buy it because the quality of the shirt feels good when you put it on. Buy it because you believe in the message. Don’t buy because you feel like you have to, buy because you think its dope.”
So, after bursting onto the scene with a compilation album (full disclosure: it won “Editor’s Pick in the Best Compilation Album category for the Rapzilla Best of 2010 Awards and can be downloaded here) to coincide with the launch of the brand, and now 11 pieces in - many of which are sold out - this line proves to be what it sets out to be: excellent. And if Octavius Newman sets to make an excellent product that you can connect with and is worthy of your money then he is doing exactly what the brand wants everyone to do and that is to B3AR FRUIT™.
So head over to B3ARFRUIT.com and purchase one the new shirts today before they sell out!
Also you can follow what B3AR FRUIT™ is up to at @B3ARFRUIT