Business Casual: The Story Behind We Are The Process
06 January 2011Written by Christina Lee
When Georgios Saliaris and Larry Luk studied graphic design at Atlanta’s Portfolio Center, they claimed the school’s basement as their unofficial studio and perfected their screenprinting techniques inside its tiny closet. They took select requests from their graduate school colleagues, though they concentrated most on creating bold, thoughtfully-designed streetwear – t-shirts that they and their photographer friends would throw on without hesitation.
However, more than three years later, these guys behind EC Design Co. – with Nike and Coca-Cola as clients – still struggle to gain respect, and for one reason only. “If you’re associated with New York, then you’re awesome as well,” Luk says. “With us it’s like, ‘Hey, we’re from the South’ – and automatically, it turns people off.”
But Saliaris, from South Carolina, and Luk, a Texas native, refused to move to cities regarded as U.S. design hubs – Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, where brands like Rocawear largely resided. Instead, the thirty-somethings launched their new clothing line, We Are The Process, just 11 miles up I-75 from where they met, inside a friend’s photography studio in East Point.
And in their brand’s first-ever collection, the designers embrace their Southern identity. For some of the We Are The Process t-shirts and caps, Saliaris put a new spin to an Atlanta icon: Chief Nokahoma, Braves mascot of more than 30 years. Though he left Nokahoma’s flat-top mohawk and rallying grin intact, Saliaris also gouged his eyeballs and stripped the skin off his face.
The logo set a stark precedent for the other emblems featured in their fall-winter, mostly black-and-white collection – weathered American flags and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, reinterpreted. “We’re not like Threadless,” Luk says. “We want our line to be taken seriously.”
But Saliaris’ Nokahoma and Luk’s use of varsity lettering also indicate, the men behind We Are The Process love watching soccer, football, baseball and basketball. “I played baseball when I was a kid. I sucked, but I liked it because of the uniform, and I liked sitting on the bench and joking with my teammates,” Luk says.
So when they launched We Are The Process, Saliaris and Luk produced 50 t-shirts bearing the line’s slogan: “Champions of the Dirty South.” The designers say this not to declare themselves as victors, but to speak volumes of their pride – and encourage other Southern artists to do the same.
“I still like seeing a team come together and beat the odds,” Luk says. “That’s how I see me and my close friends.”