There are a few things that everyone uses every day. One thing we can pretty much all agree on is that people wear pants, in some form, every day of their post diaper life. I say “almost” because the tribe on the North Sentinel Island definitely do not wear pants and definitely don’t like visitors. But, for the rest of us, it’s a daily routine we adhere to. Everyone has their own tastes, baggy, boot cut, straight, tight, way to tight… and even tighter than that if you drink copious amounts of soy. However, if that’s your thing, rock it, there is a market for you, and I won’t hate.
I have been a fan of many different designs over the years having worked mostly military, law enforcement and security. When someone works a job that requires you to carry various tools of the trade, that person finds the best way to carry said tools. This has required me to search out the best brands and designs and I have my solid go to companies. One being 1620 Workwear and the other being Aurora Project (formerly Oxcart and Adaptiv).
Some of our readers may recall Mark’s first company, Oxcart. I was an early adopter of his VX2 Renditions in 2016. To say that I enjoyed that denim and pant design doesn’t even scratch the surface. I wore those into the ground, used and abused during my EP/Armed Security work, at the range, taking the kids to school or just going to dinner. His design, for me, was the best blend of causal, utility and dare I say, fashion.
Interview with Mark Chin:
I had the opportunity to ask Mark a few questions about the evolution from Oxcart to Aurora Project. Here is what he had to say:
“I started selling back in 2016. I had initially put only fashion denim on my site slowly trying to build it and a background for the brand. In 2016, I came up with the idea of the V2 after a losing night playing poker at a local casino. I drew up the pocket layout and hung it on my fridge. With the help of my good friend, Jason Davis, I started getting pre orders for the V2 almost instantly after it was posted on Soldier Systems and Instagram with a picture of him and an M4 mag hanging out the slash pocket.
I took pre orders and did my first run of like 100pcs. By the end of 2017, I had collab’d with Tu Lam of Ronin Tactics, E-Van at 30 Seconds Out (Tunnel Rat Jeans) and I had 4 iterations of the V2X which became very popular. Sales were great for doing everything out of my garage. (minus the manufacturing)”
Mark’s product was soon eyed by a well-known company, Dyanimis/AdaptivX. However, his association with that company was short lived and sometimes professional relationships don’t work out or aren’t a good match. Like most successful entrepreneurs, Mark learned from this experience and when I asked him about that he was honest and self-reflective, here is what he had to say:
“Professionally, I think I’ve learned a lot of what not to do and that you need to take more risks on product ideas. Even if a product doesn’t work, people look to your brand to see what it is you’re doing that the competition isn’t. The more diverse your product is, the more diverse your customer base becomes. But you must make product that people can use, and when I say people, I mean everyone, not just Tier 1 guys. The biggest change I’ve made as a designer (I hate that title) is being more intricate and riskier with design ideas. Not all the big ideas will work, but you have to give it a shot and see the outcome.”
That brings us to the start of the Aurora Project. I asked Mark how this company came about and what motivated him to dive headfirst again into business:
“So the other 1/2 of AP is my best friend Slade. He medically retired from the Navy last year and frankly if it weren’t for him, I don’t think I’d be giving business another try. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, and our lives together have seen and been through a lot in just the few years that we’ve known each other. We think very much alike when it comes to designing and he pushes me to test our limits in manufacturing. We’ve developed quite a few products that we hope to release, but we’re in the “small business” stage of limited funding. We’ve been in talks with a few companies to collab on products, and hopefully they’ll come to fruition.”
“It’s when people don’t want to work with you is when you should worry. This year, I think we will focus on solidifying our product’s uniqueness in the marketplace. We want the old customers to come back, but also bring in the new customers who are attracted to what we’re doing. Our product isn’t designed for just one person in mind, it’s designed for everyone. But with that, don’t be surprised if we end up doing some one-off designs for some Tier 1 dudes…because it’s going to happen!”
Round it all up:
There are certain brands that have etched out their place within the apparel/tactical/lifestyle market. Brands like Defcon, Salient Arms, Kill Bad Dudes and Aurora Project. They offer their take on products people use every day. Taking designs, materials, marketing and the sheer will to succeed and turning that into game changing products. Mark and his original designs from 2016 have accomplished all of this and I cannot wait to see where he takes this new venture. Stay tuned and keep an eye out for drops and products from Aurora Project.
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