Sam is a (slightly greying) bearded guy from the North of England who fits the stereotype of classic straight talking, no nonsense guy from Manchester who is honest as the day is long.
Paria - PA-RYE-AH - literally means social outcast.
I’ve always had the feeling of being a bit of an outsider, especially when it came to team sports and work. Not that I am some kind of awkward social oddity, just the way I look at things sits slightly outside the boundaries of what people called normal. This extends to what I liked to wear, how I liked to spend my time; effectively what I am into.
I’ve always been in to cycling in one form or another, from BMX in the 80’s, Mountain bike when it first hit the UK in the 90’s then grew into road and a little bit of track in the noughties.
As with any other sport, you start off buying the hard goods, but once you’ve added these to your stable, you need more and more gear as you develop. Road/ track bikes - especially when riding more athletically, demand more from clothing than most two wheeled disciplines, however I struggled to find technical clothing which looked as good as it performed. I had a few streetwear influenced pieces from Only New York, and had bought into Morvelo and Attaquer from an early stage, but still felt there was something missing and I ended up buying bland, unbranded kit just to keep away from the walking full kit branded billboard apparel which seemed to prevalent. There was also an inherent elitism around cycling culture; unwritten rules from how you should wear your shades on your head, to what kit was deemed to be acceptable and reflective of your riding style. As someone who had bucked convention from a very early age, this ground my gears - and without wishing to sound like some kind of stereotypical maverick cop, I started pushing against this whenever i rode with clubs. Seeing someone who had blatantly thrown a fortune at kit, had an attitude better be fitted to Housewives of New York, yet couldn’t ride up a 2% incline just fuelled my interest in find more and more niche wear - and from this the seed of Paria was sewn.
Throughout my career, I had pretty much exited stage left with a firm push from whatever business I was working for, never having quite fitted in and usually having offended someone. In 2013 - I could see the writing on the wall, and decided this was it - I had douchebags in my work life, full kit elitist wankers in my sporting passion - it all came together perfectly. Paria was born.
Initially the collection took inspiration from anything I was or had been interested in - streetwear, 90’s rave culture, pop art. It became clear though we needed Paria to be more cohesive and really represent something as people were struggling to work out what it was all about. Plus, having had no experience in the clothing or fashion industry, I was running a business blind with gut feel - not taking into account how the cycling apparel world operated, or what the riders wanted from their clothing. We started to work closely with some local designers who road fixed, and quickly got more into the urban, gritty scene of crit racing. Our brand and style reflected this and we slowly started to build a following; starting off in the Uk, but gradually filtering abroad with focus on the states and mainland Europe.
The guys we were attracting into the brand were exactly what I love about the sport; no nonsense chilled out people ,who were immensely driven but also up for a laugh. They often took their training and sport seriously, but then also loved a party and a few beers afterwards. No pretension, no elitism, no “club for the boys” - just inclusive good times. As we started to grow, we branched out into team wear, using our design aesthetic to bring a different, fresher look to what had historically been an area dominated by block colours and logos. Inevitably this led into supporting individuals, teams with kit, and ultimately full sponsorship as we now have with NVAYRK. As we have grown, we have kept a key tenet underpinning what we stand for, basically “Don’t be a dick”. Pay it forward. Help us, collaborate, and we will help you. Try and get one over, and we walk (or ride). Think “How can we both benefit from this for the greater good of the sport, and people”, not how can I extract maximum return and then fuck off.
This attitude has started to attract attention, and our brand is slowly being picked up and challenging larger and more existing players. Our brand ambassadors are being approached by bigger established sporting goods companies, and we see this as success and a compliment to Paria as much as to the individual concerned. Recently we have started working with Rad Race in Germany, and are now retailing to their customer base, as well as working with them on an Aurora/ Rad Race kit - which to be honest is one of my favourites.
So what next?
We are constantly refining what we do, taking feedback from the teams, riders and keyboard warriors and what we do and how we do it, so our technical gear delivers.
Over the next 12 months, we are looking to branch out more and more into the off the bike wear. Our roots are, and will always be in cycling but there are cues, Details and functionality which offer “real” world day to day benefits in casual apparel which we think have real relevance. We would love to link in with some heavy hitting artists too - and do some real left field shit basically - so Jamie Lynn, hit us up.
- Words by Sam Morgan, Paria's founder.