By Kate Bernot, @redeyeeatdrink
June 12, 2013
Other breweries sell merchandise like baseball hats, hoodies and pint glasses. Naperville-based Solemn Oath envisions its new Sover line as much more than that.
"What we’re trying to do is build a lifestyle brand," said John Barley, president of Solemn Oath. "It gives us an outlet to express ourselves, and it's a new challenge that we’re welcoming."
Conceived over the course of three days camping in Wisconsin, the Sover line (pronounced So-VAIR) will launch in July with nine pieces of design-driven apparel from artists Jourdon Gullett—who designs labels and artwork for Solemn Oath—and Claudia Lara.
After the initial apparel goes on sale July 15, Barley said he hopes to include hard and soft goods under the Sover label as well, adding that Solemn Oath currently is working with three or four craftsmen to produce them.
"We’re a brewery, but we’ve entrenched ourselves with a lot of talented artists and photographers and are always trying to work with someone new and creative," Barley said.
Solemn Oath doesn't seem terribly concerned with the skeptics who think that brewers should stick to, well, brewing.
"We’ll continue to push our limits on the beer side as well, but one of our goals from a long-term standpoint is that we’ve really tried to push the limit of 'What is a brewery?' It doesn’t have to be so finite as to say 'We make beer and nothing else.’" Barley said. "Beer is such a cultural piece."
Barley said Sover—whose name is a combination of the first initials of Solemn Oath and the Latin prefix 'ver-,' meaning 'truth'—draws inspiration from brands like Ugmonk and Best Made, which produce apparel in addition to tools and accessories.
"We don’t really know what this is going to become for certain, but we think there’s a demand for it because this is something we’d like to see," Barley said. "We like to make beer that we want to drink and products that we want to use."
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