Malcolm McCassy, the founder and visionary behind popular underwear brand Ethika, points to his upbringing in Encinitas as the propellant for his impressive and continuing success.
“I was blessed to grow up in beautiful Encinitas,” he explained from his headquarters in San Clemente. “I was surrounded by motocross, skateboarding, BMXing, surfing, and all of that infused in me at a young age.”
Growing up smack in the middle of North County’s extreme sports boom, Malcolm was inspired by everything happening around him to start creating big goals early on.
“At the time I began seeing a lot of people going through a lot of different things,” said McCassy, who points to a warehouse gig at No Fear as the foundation of his education in clothing. “I was 16 when I was at No Fear, and it opened my eyes about having a passion to make a difference in the world. Being able to see apparel and see how you can change the culture was huge for me. I have no idea where I’d be without that.”
McCassy quickly learned the ins and outs of what it takes to launch a clothing brand, from the cutting and sewing, to design, and even visiting fabric and trade shows.
“At the time, I noticed all these athletes would wear a ton of brands they were proud of — except their underwear,” McCassy notes of the initial origin of Ethika and his friendships with stars such as Travis Pastrana and Ryan Sheckler. “I had an idea to make an accessory to focus on a category that didn’t exist.”
With that simple thought, Ethika was born, with its name alone having a deep meaning. “It’s a made-up word, but it stands for athletics, ethics, ethnicity in a crazy cynical world,” says McCassy. “For our logo, everyone thinks it looks like an ‘E,’ but it’s actually an arrow going through a circle, which is meant to be the girl and guy symbols for sexuality. The accent in it represents the uniqueness that only you have.”
Fast-forward 15 years and McCassy has seen Ethika grow beyond even his wildest dreams, all despite the bumps along the way.
“A lot of people don’t understand what these brands have to go through to get to where they are,” explains McCassy. “I learned everything myself from building the website to designing the underwear. Now seeing celebrities like the Jenners and Kardashians, NFL star Colin Kaepernick, or hip hop artists wear Ethika… My belief in why I was doing this and why I never gave up is that this was going to be a revolution to change the way people look at things.”
McCassy emphasizes the fact that Ethika isn’t just a brand of underwear, but so much more. “When normal people give me a hug and say that the brand itself inspired them… you could never get a paycheck that compares to the feeling of changing other people’s lives.”
Now, McCassy is looking to grow his footprint — and message — even more. “Early on I realized how attainable pursuing your own project could really be.”
For more information, visit www.ethika.com.