Words by Kaci Hamilton—
David Beckham. The Williams sisters. Brett Lee. Mabricio Wilson. What do these people all have in common? An inspired marriage of their favorite sport, and a unique fashion perspective. While Wilson’s name may not register as many hits on Google as his esteemed colleagues, that may not be the case for long. The 32-year-old former semi-pro soccer player, along with his brother Leroi (pictured, above at left, with Mabricio), founded Futbolr Clothing, an urban fashion line imbued with the spirit of the game they both love. The five-year old brand is proving to be something of a Mozartian prodigy, accomplishing quite a lot for its young age, and gaining a few high-profile fans—Tarrus Riley, Sean Paul, Busta Rhymes, to name few—in the process.
With roughly 45 years on the soccer field between them, the two brothers hatched the idea for an edgy soccer-inspired clothing company in 2007, bringing Futbolr into full-being in 2008, the idea being to fill the gap they saw in “cool clothing for people who love soccer.” Today the brand is sold in 108 US stores, with pieces suited to every fashion need, from t-shirts, polos, hoodies, to zipper jackets, track jackets, bags, hats, even laptop cases. In the fall, they’re looking forward to introducing button-downs, summer cargo shorts, footwear, and, if all stays on track, jewelry.
Of course, going for absolute domination in any industry comes with a price. Raised in Queens by Jamaican parents who named him after Jamaican football great Mabricio Ventura, Mabricio is married to his work. He and Leroi have their pinkies in every aspect of the business, from marketing to design to sales to expansion. Mabricio just wrapped a months-long business “honeymoon” in the UK, schmoozing magazines, stylists, stores, distribution companies, and even a couple professional players, with the hopes of garnering the same success they have had on the US front. “When we started, phase one was to develop a brand in the United States, but phase two was always to get to Europe, because the soccer market there is quite significant. We wanted to develop a brand, a name, our business system, so when we launched in Europe we would be a known American fashion brand.”
As they move forward with phase two, Mabricio shows no signs of putting phase one on hold. The goal for the company this year is to expand from its base in the Northeast, and into the West Coast. “Currently we aren’t in any stores in California,” Mabricio laments. “The goal is simple: double the amount of stores we’re in now, just in California, and then head up to Portland, Seattle, Oregon, and Vancouver. We have our work cut out for us in 2012.”
Mabricio’s work ethic is a reflection of his time on the soccer field, which he credits with teaching him innumerable life lessons. “I learned so much from playing soccer. My sense of determination, of constant improvement and always keeping a step ahead of the competition, I got all of that from playing soccer. As for being on a team, that goes without saying. I know that I can do anything with the right team, which I currently have.”
It’s this same sense of hunger and drive that Mabricio wants to pass on to another generation of players-cum-entrepreneurs. He’s extended Futbolr’s ever-growing reach to philanthropy, creating soccer camps and scholarships to reward bright soccer lovers like himself. New York State Senator Malcolm A. Smith has become a fan of Futbolr, partnering with the brand to work on community programs to combat childhood obesity. “At the end of the day, we are more than just clothing, we’re a member of the community, we’re a lifestyle, we’re a style maker, we’re a motivator. Success is great, but if we can’t pass something on to our kids and help those who need it, then what are we working for?”
Shop Futbolr’s online store here.
Sean Paul wears the Futbolr Splat T