Beavercreek native helps establish ‘eco-contemporary’ fashion brand
By Nicole Wroten
As a kid growing up in Beavercreek, Eric Adams never really dreamt he’d one day have a career in fashion. In fact, for most of his childhood, he never really knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.
After graduating from Beavercreek High School in 1999 and attending Miami University where he studied philosophy and English, Eric was still just caught up in anything he found interesting. “I was clueless, but I studied what I liked,” he said in a recent interview.
Adams is now directing operations for Viridian Design Group, LLC, a powerhouse in the organic clothing and fashion industry. The company, based in Manhattan Beach, Cali., owns several brands of eco-friendly, fashion-forward clothing for men and women. Though he loves what he is doing, Adams could have never predicted this would have been his career, “especially on the business side of things,” he said.
Vicarious by Nature (VBN) is their high-end brand, which retails at Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. There is also Vcology, a middle tier brand targeted at Macy’s and Viridian, a low-end brand with high distribution, which retails at TJ Maxx and Filene’s Basement. They also create a private label, meaning they make clothes for other company’s brands, like Forever 21.
“I like to call it eco-contemporary,” Adams said. “Not everyone has heard of VBN, but almost everyone that buys eco-conscious clothing has.”
Adams really stumbled into this position by chance after moving to Los Angeles following his college graduation in 2004. “I wanted to live in a big city by the ocean and knew Miami, Florida wasn’t it,” he said. “When I moved … my neighbor’s best friend had a fledgling graphic t-shirt company. I started in a sales capacity and saw an opportunity to get in at the ground floor and help to build something better,” Adams said. “After investing some money of my own and a lot of proverbial sweat, things have evolved.”
And evolved they have. The market for organic clothing has grown immensely in the last few years, especially since “going green” has become “cool.” The benefit of buying eco-friendly, organic clothing, Adams said, is really all about supporting organic farming and the organic lifestyle. The farmers who help produce these fabrics “aren’t using any chemicals or pesticides.” “It’s about starting the movement of sustainability,” said Adams.
The company’s intention is to “create quality products while maintaining a lifestyle that facilitates a movement of sustainability.” In 2010, they estimate making around $1.3 million in sales, a growth from $150,000 in sales in 2008. “That’s serious growth for a five-man operation. We’re always looking for the right investor(s),” said Adams.
The brand has a number of celebrity fans, including Kristin Cavallari who wore clothing from VBN on the series finale of “The Hills.” “She bought it herself,” Adams said.
The brand is somewhat of an anomaly is the primarily female and gay male fashion industry. The company is made up of five straight men, who all happen to love the outdoors and who started off as friends. “If you saw our booth at the major trade shows, the anomaly would be blatant,” said Adams. “The thing is, we’re all talented and we’re all in the right position to excel using our strengths.”
So what does the future have in store for Viridian? A few exciting things are happening. “We moved our unbelievably talented designer out from New York and brought him on full-time. He came from a very well known men’s brand, but I can’t say where yet,” Adams said. “We signed with our first New York showroom, Archetype Showroom at 676 Broadway. And here’s what I’m most proud of; we’re doing some domestic production for Fall 2011. I’m really happy to be making clothes in the U.S.A.”
Even though Adams and Viridian have made it to the big time, he hasn’t forgotten his Ohio roots and still visits his family often, who now live in Yellow Springs. “I think Midwesterners are the best people on Earth and I miss them dearly,” he said.
Currently, most of the sales of VBN are online, through business to business and in shops on the west coast, but when asked if Dayton would ever see VBN in local shops and boutiques, Adams said that VBN is in the process of “converging on the interior. I’d love to sell in local shops. If anyone is interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Though he has no future plans of moving back to the area himself any time soon, there are aspects of Beavercreek that he certainly misses. He said, “Beavercreek is an amazing community filled with special people. I’m thankful everyday for my ocean view, but a large part of me is missing without the access to open land and endless trees.”
For more information on Viridian Design Group, LLC and Vicarious by Nature, visit www.vicariousbynature.com or e-mail Eric Adams at email@example.com if you’re interested in getting VBN locally.
Reach DCP Editor Nicole Wroten at firstname.lastname@example.org.