“Every store I’d walk into around here, the prices were crazy, almost $35 for a T-shirt,” said New Jersey surfing native Michael Foltzer, founder and CEO of Seven. “There’s no way I’d even really want this shirt that bad. I figured, if I want to wear the stuff I want to wear, I’m going to have to make it myself.”
And he does. Working with a manufacturer in Los Angeles, and a seamstress in Pacific Beach, Foltzer not only personally designs all Seven’s apparel, but does all the screen printing, sewing, and embroidering himself using friends’ shops in Hillcrest and Mira Mesa. While each shirt, hoodie and hat is hand-crafted, Foltzer keeps his product costs between $17 and $27.
“I wanted the line to be based around the most comfortable clothes ever and it took me probably a full year of just sampling types of fabrics until I found the right type of material,” said Foltzer, who officially launched his brand in August.
“For me, it’s all about comfort and the price you’re going to get. My shirts aren’t made by a machine, their hand-assembled by me and local San Diegans,” he said.
While Seven functions primarily online, Foltzer still manages to make the packaging and delivering of his apparel personal, giving each of his T-shirts their own name and printing the product’s personality description on its faded, hanging paper tag.
“By giving it a name, I give the product its own unique character,” said Foltzer. “Nobody I’ve found out here has done anything like this before. Brands might label their shirt something that goes with the art, but nobody gives a T-shirt its own personality and writes its story on the tag.”
Also unlike many surf and skate stores, Foltzer is working on designs for dog bandannas that he hopes will be well-received, specifically in Ocean Beach.
“OB is such a dog-friendly town and people almost want to buy something more for their animal than themselves,” said Foltzer. “I figured that if I came out with something like this in OB, it would definitely be a hit.”
But Seven Clothing Co. aims to do more than sell quirky and quality surf and skate apparel. Foltzer also includes a hand-written letter in every package, thanking the customer for being a part of their mission and welcoming them into the Seven “community.”
Foltzer says the shop’s main goal is to build a community around the mindset of “bettering life for yourself, the environment and everybody around you,” creating a clothing culture that gives something back and brings people together.
Seven’s primary sponsor is Surfrider Foundation, a national charity that focuses on protecting the world’s oceans and marine life through activist network. With a local chapter in Sorrento Valley, Surfrider’s recent events have centered around San Diego beach cleanups and fundraising to eliminate the water contamination in Tijuana. For every item that Seven sells, $1 automatically goes toward Surfrider and their environmental rescue efforts.
“Because we’re a surf and skate lifestyle apparel company, it fits in really well with our mission and vibe because they’re all about keeping our oceans clean,” said Foltzer of Surfrider. “I’ve always known that my end goal in life would be to have my own brand and my own company, but more than that, I wanted to create a community of something that everyone around the world could relate to and be a part of.”
In addition to sponsoring local musicians, artists and surfers – and hopefully animal shelters come next year – Foltzer is also building Seven’s network through just the store’s name.
“When I was a kid, I used to have OCD and count everything up to seven or multiples of seven, like car volumes could only be on 7 or 17,” said Foltzer. “It took me two years to overcome that. But since then, the number has appeared everywhere. Seven’s always been present in my life and I just wanted to name the company something that had meaning to it.”
Foltzer says that when he first began advertising his brand at the Ocean Beach Farmers Markets, people would come running up to his tent because of the name, saying either seven was their favorite number or that it held a type of religious meaning for them.
“I thought it was cool to see people who were also affiliating themselves with my brand this way,” said Foltzer. “Some weren’t even in that skate and surf lifestyle but the number and the brand name still meant something to them.”
An added product in Seven’s packaged deliveries is a handful of orange company stickers, with a surf-enthusiast skeleton holding a board that reads, “Seven.” In black letters above the image are the words, “Keeping it fresh since 2017,” the year Foltzer’s idea first started becoming a reality, and another multiple of seven.
Seven makes deliveries across the U.S. and is hosting their first big sale in December. Sign up for their email list at sevenclothingco.com to get discounts. Also in December, those who spend $40 will get $10 off with the promo code sdholiday18.