We often get asked about how Hero Within got started. Did we have years of experience in fashion or merchandising? Did we have a clear vision from day one? Naturally, being a comic book based company, origin stories are important to us. There is a short answer to the origin question that involves seeing a gap in the market and wanting to bring sophisticated apparel to fans. However, the slightly longer version has more interesting roots.
Our founder, Tony B Kim, has been an avid San Diego Comic-Con attendee for over 10 years and in 2013 decided to cosplay for the first time. However, instead of crafting a comic or screen accurate costume, he decided to go a much different route. About that time in con culture, the realm of cosplay had exploded. Mash-ups were all the rage which meant bringing together two different fandoms into a new cosplay. As a passionate fan of Doctor Who and Warner Bros, Tony decided to merge these two together using the most unlikely material. Thanks to Warner Bros marketing and to Michael Lew (his design partner in crime), Tony constructed an amazing 11th Doctor blazer from Comic-Con WB Swag Bags. The vinyl blazer was a huge hit at San Diego Comic-Con, gaining a lot of media and fan buzz. However, besides taking fun photos with fans and sweating off a few pounds in his new insulated jacket, something new began in Tony's heart.
Cosplaying that year started a new vision for Tony. There was something unique about merging fandom with fashion that was worth exploring. While the WB 'Swag Bag' coat was fun and outlandish, it did provoke a lot of conversation about sophisticated wear and more importantly, what options were out there for men. Blazers in particular have been a largely unchanged style for decades. Changing lapel sizes and slimmer cuts can sum up the fashion innovations when it came to men's blazers. So when Hero Within launched it's first prototype at Comic-Con 2015, it would be with a blazer- large in part because of this WB bag cosplay. Because of this 2013 experience, Tony discovered that men do love fashion and also love merging their fandoms together. The gap in the market was obvious to him and he set out to launch a collection of blazers before the 2016 SDCC. That soon evolved into an entire collection of coats and now expanded into jeans and shirts. All because of a Doctor Who/Warner Bros costume.
Like many innovations in the market, they are discovered by a happy accident and out of personal desire- and Hero Within is no exception. While we will continue to grow our collection to offer all kinds of apparel and merchandise, the blazer will always be at the heart of who we are. The blazer represents a level of sophistication and maturity that we believe reflects a new era of fandom. We are not just fans that sit at home playing video games but creators, business men, community developers and social influencers in culture. We need apparel that reflects that. Comic-Con will always hold a special place in our heart because it many ways, it was the birthplace of our company. For Tony, his cosplay became his calling. What started a harmless expression of fandom became a mission to change the fashion culture forever. We hope to continue our special relationship with Comic-Con for the years to come. If you remember this coat, let us know by leaving a comment below!
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