CHANGING THE WORLD, ONE SHIRT AT A TIME - INTERVIEW WITH MATT CLEVENGER OF APPLES AND BANDAIDS.
'When I was a kid, bandages could fix everything and an apple a day kept me healthy,' are the words of Matt Clevenger, the man making a difference with his clothing line Apples and Bandaids. The line has teamed up with Empowering Lives, a non-profit organization that provides food, medical supplies, and education for third-world villages, through directly donating 50% of sales to the agency.
‘With every pandemic and catastrophe, there is an opportunity for good.’
INSPIRER.nu’s Sophie Taylor recently gained a little insight from Matt on his personal style, inspirations and what’s to come for Apples and Bandaids!
INSPIRER: Describe your personal style and do you consider yourself to start or follow trends?
MATT: There is a balance in the fashion world. There are so many types of fashion and I love the variety and the creativity in clothes, but I have lived in Santa Cruz which is a small beach community about an hour south of San Francisco. The culture of my town is very beachy and where surfers and skaters kind of set the style of what we wear. I would say that I am a follower at times but maybe set the trend for a few people.
Who and/or What are your biggest fashion inspirations?
My biggest fashion inspiration is looking at different cities in the country. I try to keep up with how much the fashion world changes. I get inspired by my artsy friends who love to create and inspire each other to grow and to dream bigger and better. My friends are a huge part of my style.
Most embarrassing fashion flashback?
When I was a kid I wore some pretty funky colors but when I was little I wore a sweatband for 4 months straight. I don’t have really any embarrassing fashion flashbacks. It is really about if you are comfortable and if what you are wearing makes you feel better about who you are.. I say go for it!
Favorite/Least favorite trends or styles of all time?
I think my favorite fashion style is Flannels. Everyone in Santa Cruz wears Flannels year round. My least fav trend would have to be Crocs the sandals slash shoes. Sorry to those who wear them still.
Favorite location/store/brand to shop at?
I love local surf or skate shops down in San Diego.
When did you first realize your passion for fashion?
I think I have always enjoyed fashion… of course as a kid I wore some weird combinations, thanks Mom : ) Growing up my mom was and still is a very fashionable cute mom who loves going to used clothing stores and finding unique fun clothes. After graduating high school I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life so I went to a local community college and took many different kinds of classes and in one of my math classes I sat down next to a guy and his name was Jeff Schwerdtfeger. He is the kind of guy who is pretty much good at every extreme sport or if he is not good at something he makes you think he is. We became really close friends and would always push each other and dream together. One day we thought after trying to shape skim boards in my garage… what about starting a clothing company? I thought it was kind of funny at first and we had a list of names that we thought would be pretty sweet. But one name for some reason stuck out – Adoni, which means Master or God in Hebrew. So we created a few designs and printed a small order of shirts. Just sold them to our friends and it just kept progressing. Adoni fizzled and I birthed a company called Apples & Bandaids. My heart was to make clothes with a cause. So I think that is when I really became passionate about fashion and style.
What gave you the initial inspiration to start Apples and Bandaids?
My heart is to see change in the world. I also work at a church where I lead college students and I think the biggest desire that I have is to see someone’s potential and give them an opportunity to use their gifts. I think this goes for Apples and Bandaids as I can see the potential of what a cool thing it is, even if it never made it to a huge chain store but a bigger company adopted the dream of creating a line of clothes that actually was making a difference in the world. It makes me sad to see huge companies making millions and millions of dollars off of the fashion world when there are people who are starving living in trash dumps. 1 dollar a day provides clean water for a child for a year. It really does not take to much effort for us to make the change that our heart desires to see. There are many amazing organizations, so it’s in my heart to see more people less concerned on drama or gossip but to look at how are we making a difference today?
Over the next few weeks Apples and Bandaids have a window display in URBAN OUTFITTERS in Santa Cruz!
Why do you think fashion is such an effective medium of presenting a positive message?
Every day we wake up and look into our closet and pull something out and put it on our bodies. Clothes really represent how we want the world to see us. I know there is a lot more to all of us than just what is on the outside layer but first impressions are pretty big. What a cool thing would it be if there were more companies representing or using the model of if you buy this shirt it is actually making a change. I love what Toms shoes has done with the ‘One for One’ model. I love what they are doing and fully support them 100%. We represent who we are to the world by what we wear. I know it seems a little shallow but I think for the people who own a pair of Toms shoes. When you see someone also wearing a pair of toms you kind of have this crazy connection.
What are your aspirations for A&B's future, and what can we expect over the next few years?
I love to dream big so we will see where God takes this company. I am super excited about the future and I love watching so many people really wanting to make a change in this world. It is very easy to look away from the fact that people are starving all around us, yet we are complaining about the smallest things in life. I want to inspire others to see their potential in themselves and know that they can make a change. So many of us want to change the world but if we just start small by helping a handful of people I think that is HUGE in my eyes and in God’s. I am excited and ready for what is next.
When you support Apples & Bandaids, you aren't just buying a shirt, you are changing a life! So get online and check out the Apples and Bandaids website, make your way over to the store, get behind this inspirational movement and get in contact with Matt if you'd love to be further involved!
Join some of the bands that support Apples and Bandaids:
Picture Atlantic, The Scene Aesthetic, I am Empire, Every Avenue, Robots & Butterflies, Danger Radio PLUS MORE!