Faze, the longtime men’s clothing store at 3236 21st St., closed its doors Oct. 1. But the same team has opened State of Flux, its spiritual successor, just two blocks south on Valencia near 23rd Street.
Johnny Travis and Herbert Gracia, the two founders of Faze, which is an acronym for “Fearless and Zealous Everyday,” opened State of Flux at 1176 Valencia St. Oct. 19. The men’s fashion store has both in-house designer clothing and apparel made by other companies from around the globe. Their goal is to sell unique items that aren’t found elsewhere in the city, Gracia said.
“We don’t come from this industry. We just knew we really wanted to do it,” Gracia said.
Travis and Gracia founded Faze in 2007. At the time, the two were selling custom-made hats and t-shirts at events and festivals but had no retail location. Travis, who was working in the financial world at the time, recalls that he would be at work by 6 a.m. when the stock market would open, work his regular shift and then focus on the clothing company in the evenings.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be there forever, I was trying to anticipate a jump,” Travis said. “Money is cool, but when you work a lot and your mood doesn’t change, it’s time to do something different.”
Eventually, Travis quit his finance job and devoted himself to the business full time. The two moved into their 21st Street retail location seven years ago. But they had a recurring problem with other companies infringing on their copyrights and trademarks, like using similar designs or having similar names: Faze Apparel sued another company, called “FaZe Clan,” in 2018 for copyright infringement because it sold clothing with the word “Faze” on it.
Gracia said they had to go through litigation a few times on other occasions, which grew expensive and, from a business point of view, was not sustainable. So eventually, the two began exploring other ideas.
They sold the Faze brand in March 2019 for an undisclosed amount and to an undisclosed buyer — Gracia said they had signed a confidentiality agreement. The partners then developed the concept that became State of Flux as an evolution of their work at Faze. They picked the name because it encapsulates the rhythmic ups and downs of life, the good and the bad, and their logo reflects that state of being.
The new brand was their chance for a clean slate, so the group wanted to do something bigger and better than their old company. They shopped around for a new location, which they found on Valencia. The new spot is bigger, but also pricier than their old location — at 21st Street, they paid $3,000 a month, and on Valencia, they now pay $4,500 a month.
They see State of Flux as more than a new clothing store. They also plan to offer classes on clothing design, fabrication and manufacturing, as well as screen printing for shirts.
The back of the store will be a small photography studio to be rented out to customers.
At present, the store sells items from brands like Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co., but also in-house fare. Gracia said they make a limited run of apparel like shirts, pants and hats.
The store is currently open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and from 12 to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
“We’re still learning. We’re not masters; we’re always learning,” Gracia said.