When you hear the phrase "cannabis fashion," about the only thing that comes to mind are those HUF pot leaf socks. Until now, cannabis company merch meant beer cozies and lighter leashes emblazoned with dispensary names. Swag equaled additional advertising opportunities and giveaway fodder on holidays—nothing more.
But when local distributor LTRMN—the company that first carved out a name for itself with attention to sharp aesthetic details, like sneaker box-shaped packages containing fresh drops of flower for dispensaries—started brainstorming branded merch, the team asked themselves: "Why can't company swag be a coveted summer capsule collection?"
Six months later, brand manager Alex Veltri unveiled the first collection. The launch party, held July 13, debuted a line of monotoned athletic wear bearing the all-caps logo, against a cherry-red, flame-inspired backlight and the beat of a live DJ set.
There aren't any cannabis references anywhere on the clothing—no leaves, no green details. Just the name "LTRMN" (pronounced "letterman") in white embroidered lettering on basics like black dad hats, hoodies and athletic socks. The venue—a retail space usually occupied by jeweler Stick & Stones and a vintage pop-up—was cleared out and replaced with a stark, black backdrop accented with red spotlights and leafy indoor plants. Stylish creatives and faces from the design and advertising realms outnumbered dispensary customers two to one.
From the perspective of passers-by, this looked more like an indie athleisure brand launch than a cannabis industry event. And that's exactly what LTRMN hoped to accomplish.
"They described their concept as 'the non-weed weed brand,'" says Veltri, who designed the clothing line and manages social media for the brand. "They wanted to do things differently, which worked for me, because I had no experience with cannabis. I come from fashion."
Prior to joining LTRMN, Veltri owned and operated his own retail store, Lé Court on Southwest Broadway. At Lé Court, he got to know more of the creative community and made connections with people like Nat Gray of Kamp Grizzly, who would end up helping with design and production of the merch line. Veltri's goal was to create a simple, cohesive collection that "represents LTRMN from its inception," he says. "Something that, if we were to look back 15 years from now, would speak to the context in which the brand was founded."
He points out the current fashion era highlights simple, comfortable athletic apparel that dovetails with the company's references to varsity sports. The mainstream acceptance of 2010s streetwear has brought about a revival of the age-old cultural connection between cannabis, hip-hop, skateboarders and basketball, which comes across in Veltri's promotional content leading up to the launch. Posts on social media showed a diverse group of models walking dreamily around dunes at the coast to the tune of ambient hip-hop beats—no joints or smoke rings in sight.
"No one's made rules for what makes a cannabis brand, or the 'right' way to build one. We wanted to elevate cannabis merchandise so it wasn't as niche," says Madeline Manning, account marketing director at LTRMN. "Some people enjoy consuming but don't want anything to do with Bob Marley imagery."
Although he never envisioned himself designing cannabis merch, Veltri sees that the direction of trends has brought him exactly where he's supposed to be. To him, the LTRMN brand is an opportunity to elevate cannabis culture, as well as make fashion more accessible to cannabis enthusiasts for whom rasta motifs and tie-dye don't resonate.
Witnessing a fully fleshed-out lifestyle brand emerge out of an Oregon Liquor Control Commission-regulated recreational cannabis distributor signifies the establishment of a New World Order of cannabis culture, one that influences people far beyond those who regularly consume it.
"I want to take LTRMN to Supreme levels," he says, referencing the popular, award-winning streetwear brand. "High fashion takes streetwear seriously now, just like how people can enjoy weed without being dismissed as a stoner. Or be a proud stoner who cares about fashion. It doesn't matter—you can be all of the above if you stay true to your core values."
SHOP: Find LTRMN online at shop.ltrmn.com.