From local hustle to H’wood bustle |

From local hustle to H’wood bustle

April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Hip-hop artists such as the Game and Big Boi have repped Carbondale big with Akomplice clothing from Patrick and Mike McCarney. (Submitted photo)

CARBONDALE ” When Akomplice clothing gurus Mike and Patrick McCarney in May hosted their Season 6 release party in Los Angeles, they rolled out the purple carpet instead of red.

Purple, after all, is associated with royalty.


And spirituality.

All are characteristics the young brothers originally from Paonia, Colo. ” who run their urban clothing line out of Carbondale ” want their brand to exude.

“You should wear something that means something to you, not just be a walking billboard,” 23-year-old Patrick said. “People should be asking themselves, ‘Does this represent me? Does this look like something I would wear?’ People want to show a little about who they are.”

The brothers’ packed-housed party ” which featured rapper Talib Kweli on the mic, and singer Amy Winehouse, hip-hop veteran LL Cool J and “That ’70s Show” actor Wilmer Valderrama on the VIP list ” was a full-blown Hollywood affair. The event not only premiered the grassroots clothing company’s newest designs in T-shirts, hooded sweatshirts and denim, but showed Akomplice is more than just a designer label.

Akomplice is a lifestyle.

“Our clothing conveys a message about our beliefs,” said Patrick, a freestyle rapper. “This market, streetwear, there’s a whole style. We’re not just a logo. Our style is varied, and our theme is me and my brother’s life.”

Mike, 21, is the founder of Akomplice, a brand inspired by a dream that came to reality about 31⁄2 years ago.

“‘Free Yourself’ was the first shirt I ever made, and it came to me in a dream,” he said.

The design features a person as a puppet with hands that read “FEAR” pulling the strings. Underneath the puppet are the words “Free Yourself.”

“I went from not hardly ever doing art to doing a full clothing line being in all the hottest shops,” Mike said.

Today, Mike’s designs are sold in about 130 high-end stores in cities such as L.A., New York and Miami. And Akomplice is worldwide, featured in Japan, Amsterdam, Puerto Rico, Korea, Denmark, Holland, Canada and Switzerland.

“People are people, and I’m the same person as people in L.A., Tokyo or New York. We’re interested in the same stuff; we just have different perspectives,” Mike said. “Everything we understand is from our life.”

But being based out of Carbondale, as opposed to L.A. or New York, offers its challenges. Shirts are manufactured at production sites in L.A. and Canada.

“We face the hurdle of ‘You’re from Colorado,'” Patrick said. “I have to hustle ” we have a different lifestyle here.”

Although he loves the city, Mike finds a sense of peace in Colorado. The Akomplice office and warehouse sits along the Roaring Fork River just outside Carbondale, where inspiration constantly flows.

“My inspiration constantly changes. For the most part, it’s an overall theme of life,” Mike said. “When I first started out, I had just turned 18 and at that time everything in my life was about philosophy or psychology of humans. In fashion, the hard part is, people try too hard to be with it.”

Akomplice’s mission is to “Bring fresh concepts and artful expressions to heads across the globe.

“The McCarneys want nature, music, cinema, art and politics to provoke thought in the people who see ” and, most importantly, wear ” their clothing.

The “Liberty” design, which shows the Statue of Liberty holding an automatic pistol in her raised hand, has made an impact in the hip-hop world. Rappers the Game, Big Boi from Outkast, CunninLynguist, Tonedeff and Black Pegasus are a few of the big-name artists donning Akomplice gear.

Akomplice has come a long way in a short time in accomplishing its mission. Patrick estimates Akomplice has sold more than 30,000 T-shirts in the last six seasons.

The goal is all about freeing yourself, Mike said.

“One of the biggest things I tell my friends and family is to go for what you want to go for ” you might as well try,” he said. “Don’t be scared to go for what you want to do. Even if you fail, the road you take will teach you something new.”