Apparel company finds roots in Columbus

Lohcal Apparel, Columbus, Ohio

Lohcal Apparel Union is a Columbus-based clothing company that keeps its values - being American made and affordable - at the forefront in all of its products. The company was started by three friends who all held the same ideals about what their clothing line should represent. Once they discovered their shared ideals, they hit the ground running, and Lohcal Apparel was created. 

Nathan, one of the company's co-founders, was kind enough to answer some questions about his brand, starting an apparel company in Columbus, and what the future holds. See what he had to say:

What made you decide to open Lohcal Apparel?

Lohcal Apparel actually came together by chance one night. To be honest, it took us less than 24 hours to decide to jump in. We all had the same philosophy on how we wanted to start an apparel company, and we had a target we wanted to hit. 

We wanted to be American made across the board. Whether it be hats, beanies, sweatshirts, t-shirts, you name it, we wanted it to be American made. We didn’t want to cut corners on that. We wanted to support workers and families here in the U.S., and we didn’t want to support the slave labor happening elsewhere. We wanted to know where our fabric was coming from and we wanted to know where it was stitched.

We also wanted to be reasonably priced. That may sound like an oxymoron if you know anything about the clothing industry, but it was our main goal. We wanted to provide high quality, well designed, affordable, American made clothing. Something that our customers could be proud to wear every day. We stand by all of that now and we work extremely hard to find and source all of our products right here in the USA.

Why the name Lohcal Apparel?

We wanted a name that is familiar. Something that means something to everyone, no matter where you are. The word “local” really embodied that. When something is local, it brings feelings of pride, community and togetherness. 

We also wanted to add a touch of what was local to us, being the state where we are located. So we decided to add the “OH” into the name to make it ours. We also had to be careful not to lock ourselves into just an Ohio market, as we knew we wanted to be able to expand outside of the state, and reach a larger audience, all while giving a little nod to our roots.  

What advice would you give someone starting a fashion- or apparel-related business in Columbus?

We are a rather young company still, and though we have a lot to learn when it comes to apparel and fashion, we would have to say that perseverance is incredibly important. We have failed. A lot! But, you really have to find a niche. There are so many little clothing companies, doing all kinds of stuff, that it is important to find what works for you. You have to find an audience. You have to be true to that audience but you have to be willing to expand and be creative. It is a real balance, especially when you are first starting.

We started our company on our own investments so that we did not have to worry about the pressure of paying back loans. That lead to us having to be really tight with what we wanted to do and how we wanted to handle product stock levels.

In saying this, our advice would be to plan, plan, and keep planning, on how much stock, what designs you have, and the logistics of how you will keep track of it all and how to go about ordering more of a certain product. You can only control so much, and there has to be a game plan for when you are low on a product. Or if you have too much product. How long is the turn around to create new product? Can you get the fabric still? Do you order extra and just have them waiting? What happens if you have a product sell very quickly and you can’t keep up? What if you plan for a product to sell well and it flops? There are so many variables that need to be looked at and there are some we are still finding as we move along.  So we would just say realize there will be issues, try to analyze the possibilities, and then put a plan in place for each of the scenarios you can come up with.

And honestly, most of all, have fun. We work for ourselves here. We design what we want. We get to set what we do. There are not many jobs in the world that are like that. Take pride in what you do, and don’t give up.

Do you have a favorite piece you've done, or one with a special significance?

It is really hard to narrow down to a single item. We have partnered with numerous groups to try and make a difference using our clothing line for something bigger. We have sold “Love In Ohio” shirts at Pride and donated money to LBGTQ groups. We have partnered with “Save The Crew” and created a shirt to support the Columbus Crew, donating money to the Save The Crew movement. We have also created an entire set of drinking glasses with packaging to sell for our hometown, donating all the profits to Destination Downtown Lancaster.

So, all of those products were very significant to us, but we also have had challenges with our own designs that hold a special place in our apparel line. Our new beanies that we launched this year were our most challenging job. Trying to source American made patches, hats, and to come up with something that would be comfortable, sylish, and hold up to our standards, was a six-month process. It took days of research, calls, logistics, and design decisions that no one else got to see. So, when those finally were in our hands, we have to say that meant a lot to us.

What do you see in the future for Lohcal Apparel?

We want to be able to expand on what we are doing now. We want to reach a larger audience, and to share with our customers a sense of partnership. We really do want to create a “union” of friends, which is what our full name really expresses. Everyone has brands that they love and are extremely loyal to. We strive for that same thing. That is what we want for the future of Lohcal Apparel.  

We also would like to have a place we could call home. A brick and mortar hangout. We have played with the idea already. We have started setting up at festivals, and plan to do that this summer, but having to tell customers that you don’t have a shop isn’t fun to do. We have a lot of support from people wanting that. Right now, we are simply focused on pumping out new designs, sourcing quality apparel and trying to be as creative as we can be. Once we have been able to expand our line and audience we might decide to finally set up shop.    


Learn more about Lohcal Apparel at


Monday, March 12, 2018