Q&A Michael McWilliams founder of digz apparel

Most pieces of clothing hold more sentimental value than monetary worth. They can tie us to certain moments or experiences, which explains why we all own at least one item of clothing that has endured years of rugged wear & tear. digz apparel gets it. They want to be the brand on the label of your worn out tee and beat-up boardshorts. Each item in the line is designed to outlast conventional wear because digz knows no matter how frayed your clothes become, you will always have a place for the ones that mean the most. Founded on his brother Tim's legacy, Michael McWilliams launched the digz Kickstarter campaign in December. Funding for the line ends today (back digz here), but the remaining hours will not determine the fate of its Los Angeles production, digz apparel surpassed its $40,000 goal Monday. Why is it important to manufacture your line in the U.S.? It’s important to us to support jobs here in the states and develop longterm working relationships with the people that bring our products to life. We value the closeness and communication that comes along with that. The closer we can be to our products throughout the process of their creation the better. We have a lot on our hands as a start-up and too much gets lost in the shuffle when it’s so far out of reach.

What led to digz's conception? Being bold enough to ask the question,“What more can we do?” We started the Timbofund eight years ago after my brother Tim passed away, as a means of supporting those who struggle the same way that he did from Traumatic Brain injuries. Our experience with the foundation has given us all a taste of what it means to help people in a big way. We all recognized a spirit that was infused in all the good that came from such a tragic loss. I believe we wanted a more creative way of experiencing that spirit--that’s when digz was born.

What was your day job prior to conceptualizing digz? I was a musician and played and sang in a band called Carlon (my brother’s middle name). I worked in restaurants when we weren’t in the studio or on the road. Sometime during our evolution as a band, the idea of digz started to come into play and pretty soon my love for fashion took hold. I still play and write and miss performing, but the creative process is still a major part of what I do.

Was fashion always an obvious choice in looking for a way to extend your brother’s legacy outside of the Timbofund? Not fashion per se. We were a family of surfers, so selling a pair of boardshorts and finding a way for some of that sale to go back to the foundation was intriguing. But mostly, it was a bar stool conversation we had before working up enough nerve to try. The idea evolved very organically and through meeting the right people and putting ourselves out there we stopped seeing the obstacles and began to see possibilities.

How does the line pay homage to Tim’s life story? The line itself is infused with all sorts subtleties that embody his story. Whether it be his lucky number 32 or the ellipsis that runs down the chest of an angel he drew when he was 6 years old. It was really important to us that we found ways to tie all these elements into the line as well as the entire digz apparel experience.

{Michael had the angel Tim drew made and stuffed for his son; a picture of Tim and Michael from childhood; Tim's native-print blanket}

Your line focuses a lot on the sentimental value of clothing, what items in your wardrobe make you the most nostalgic? I have a few of my brothers old Pocket T’s (pictured on Michael above). They were a staple of his and he wore them almost every day. I also have some of his work shirts that are smothered in grease stains, cigarette burns and other wears and tears. I’ve lost a few things over the years so I try and acknowledge their impermanence but I keep a close eye on what I still have and hope I can keep them long enough to pass them down to my own son.

What have been the greatest benefits/challenges of using Kickstarter? Connecting with new people has easily been the greatest benefit. Not only through the campaign itself but the work I’ve done to meet up with new people and tell them about what we are doing. It reminds me how valuable every day is and how important it is to stay inspired.

The web makes it so easy to make contact with people but you still have to do the work to engage them beyond that. You don’t want to force your project at people but you do want them to take a couple of minutes and watch your video. There are certainly challenges in doing a Kickstarter but they are completely outweighed by the opportunity that the site gives you that you wouldn't otherwise have. It’s an exciting time to be a creative person.

Has there been a single hardest moment throughout this process? I haven’t spent much of the past eight years grieving. Mostly, I've been filling up all the spaces with projects and life and had very little reflection. For some reason in the past two months, a window has opened and I’ve begun to feel again. The emotions have been flooding out, in ways I never thought they would. It has been personally challenging to juggle giving the project what it needs and allowing space for everything else. For years it has been my inclination to work as much as possible and ignore the rest but I’m tired of doing that, so I’m really trying to focus on that balance right now because there is so much good coming from all of it.

{Tim and Michael; Tim; Tim's American-made CASE pocket knife}