Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: A-list celebs make Sacramento headwear designer’s success ‘Official’

A-list celebrities such as rapper Lil Wayne and actor James Franco have been spotted in headwear designed by Sacramento’s Jason Maggio, and his company’s sales shot up to $2.7 million in 2013.

But if you want to check out a flagship store dedicated to Maggio’s Official Crown of Laurel products, you’ll have to book a flight to Seoul, South Korea. There, Maggio told me, consumers will soon find as many as three stores showcasing his headwear and apparel.

The busy designer himself hasn’t had a chance to visit even the first store that his Korean distributor opened.

“Our sales director is going out there,” he said. “They actually opened one store, just an Official flagship store, and they’re opening two more this month. It’s kind of weird to have flagship stores in Korea that we’ve never even been to.”

In the United States, Official Brand can be found at Zumiez, Tilly’s, more than 200 independent stores and at But roughly half the company’s sales are international, with Brazil and Korea being particularly strong markets.

Last year, Official Brand’s revenue shot up almost three times over its 2012 showing, Maggio said. When he realized his team was going to top the $2 million mark in 2013, he booked a week of play for the entire staff and their families in a small village outside Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He’s hoping to hit $4 million in sales this year, though he acknowledged it’s a lofty goal.

Before founding his apparel company, Maggio had published Vapors magazine and sold it. He had also done some freelance design work for popular headwear maker New Era. Official Brand got its start in Maggio’s garage in January 2007, and in his first season, he took $100,000 in orders.

“We filled a niche,” he said. “There isn’t another brand that has skate and streetwear backgrounds and focuses solely on headwear and doing the level of detail in the product. A lot of these other brands will have headwear in their lineup, but it’s just an accessory, and they don’t put as much care or concern into it. We were really coming to the market with something where there wasn’t anything to compare.”

The recession hit, Maggio said, and half the companies that had placed orders with him in his first season closed their doors. He refocused on design quality and cost control, and his baseball caps, beanies, windbreakers and pants won over the 17- to 24-year-old consumers. Maggio moved into a 1,200-square-foot warehouse, but last year, when his orders from Chinese factories began filling up shipping containers, he relocated its headquarters and warehouse to a 4,200-square-foot space a stone’s throw from the Fox & Goose pub on R Street.

While Maggio is gratified that celebrities have chosen to wear his hats, he said he’s proud that his brand remains popular in the skate and urban subcultures.

Maggio has fond memories of the days when he was a one-man operation, and he never expected his company to get this big. Yet he’s hired consultants who can help tiny Official Brand navigate new frontier, securing licenses for college trademarks. But will college marketers want to team up with a company that occasionally features marijuana iconography and expletives on its apparel?

Those are some of his best-selling items, Maggio told me, and it shows that he knows his market. Of course, his design proposals for a college sports team wouldn’t include such graphics, he said, but they would be a refreshing change from what’s currently offered.

“The 19-year-old kid doesn’t necessarily want to be wearing the same hat that the 65-year-old guy next to him is wearing at the game,” Maggio said, “and our brand relates and speaks to that 19-year-old kid much more than other established heritage brands that have had the licenses for 30 years.”

Loehmann’s is history

Loehmann’s Holdings Inc. closed its decades-old Sacramento store on Sunday, and a day later, it filed bankruptcy court documents rejecting its lease of the 17,000-square-foot space at 2511 Fair Oaks Blvd.

You might think this would be sad news for Paul Bollinger, whose family owns the shopping center where the clothing store was based, but the legal notice was actually a relief.

“We wanted to gain control of that real estate because it’s hard to find in this trade area a space that’s 6,000 to 20,000 square feet,” he told me, “and that space is 17,000 square feet. Quite frankly, we now can get market rent for it because the Loehmann’s rate was submarket.”

The shopping center, named Loehmann’s Plaza, will undergo a name change, said Bollinger, executive vice president of Inter-Cal Real Estate Corp., and he and other staff are mulling the best way to determine it.

A number of brokers already have called about the Loehmann’s space, said Bollinger, noting that the space would be ideal for housewares, linens, cosmetics or another clothing company. He doesn’t think it makes sense to put another sit-down restaurant in the center since there are already so many dining choices.