If you want a t-shirt featuring a nostalgic 80s or 90s cartoon, a tank-top emblazoned with a catchphrase such as “Bazinga” or “I’m Pickle Rick,” or a hoodie with your favorite Pokemon on it, these days you won’t have any trouble at all. A quick Google search or stop at the local Hot Topic, Target, or even Walmart will yield results. But what if you want something a bit different from mere graphics printed on fabric?
Volante Design is a clothing company that as its website says, makes “Superhuman Streetwear.” The head designer, David Volante, had done custom work for some time before officially forming the company in 2013 with his wife, Willow, who is the current CEO.
Around that time when one of David’s designs, the Assassin’s Creed 3 inspired hoodie, went viral, things really changed for the business.
“We had sort of a ‘light’ webstore and thought to ourselves, ‘Let’s just put a hundred-pieces of this in stock. Why not? We’ll never sell a hundred pieces,’” said CEO Willow Volante at this year’s E3 Conference. “At that time, we were making each garment individually. So, we put a hundred pieces up, and we sold them in four hours. Actually, we sold a hundred-and-forty in four hours. We’re still not sure why our website let us sell a hundred-and-thirty. That left us with a hundred-and-thirty orders that we didn’t know how to fill, because we figured we would maybe get ten and be happy about that. For custom pieces and an individual one-off basis, that’s like a good volume. At this current time in our company, we can do about twenty-custom pieces a month. But at that time, we were doing considerably less because we were cutting by hand. So, the sheer volume of orders was both exciting and also a shock.” Since then, Volante has since become a familiar face at many conventions and shows nationwide.
Their unique look isn’t the only reason why Volante pieces sell. They are made to be durable and able to withstand the daily rigors of wear and tear. As Willow herself put it, Volante Design’s goal is to “make practical, wearable clothing that makes you feel badass.” I personally own one of their coats; the first version of their popular Eagle. My favorite aspect of it is the long coat tails it features. The coat also features the same Assassin’s Creed hood design that helped to make their early hoodie a viral hit. But, if I ever feel so inclined, I can remove the hood by unfastening the buttons that hold it in place. I do get some odd and curious looks when I go places with it, but I still feel like the badass that Willow had first mentioned.
Though they are known for their gaming related attire, the company has been looking to branch out into other looks. One recent addition to their line is called the Shinobi, which Willow Volante was sporting at their E3 booth. “[It’s] inspired sort of by samurai armor and some ninja elements,” Willow commented. “We’ve really played with the hardware to make it feel kind of techie and cool.”
Another recent addition to their brand has been the UKoala Bag, which wasn’t intended to become a product. “We were originally wearing these as a side bag to do transactions, but people kept asking us ‘Do you sell those?’ So, we figured we should,” said Willow. American made, modular, and coming with a ten-warranty, there’s no wonder why people wouldn’t want them. “We will eventually be making more bags though,” she added.
Volante is also looking forward to designing some new products around the handful of licenses they’ve recently acquired, ever mindful of expanding further than their video-game roots. Though their products are a bit pricier than their mass-produced counterparts, it must be remembered that everything is handmade here in America using some of the best and most durable materials available. When I can afford it, I can’t wait to get myself either a vest or a pair of Talon wrist wraps. If you’re looking for something unique to wear, visit their website at www.VolanteDesign.us.
Nicholas Eskey is an avid reader and writer. When not contributing to The Beat, he works on his personal projects, the latest being a fantasy novel called “My Personable Demon.” He lives in San Diego, California, and is frequently bossed around by his cat.