LOS ANGELES — A competitive apparel climate has led to the shutdown, at least temporarily, of Irvine, Calif.-based Counter Culture. About 20 employees at company headquarters have been let go in the last three weeks, according to Pat Fraley, a founder. Counter Culture stopped shipping its men’s and junior lifestyle-oriented clothing in April.
At its peak, the line, founded 12 years ago in a Huntington Beach garage by Fraley and Mike Schillmoeller, sold to 350 wholesale accounts, including Jack’s Surfboards and Ron Jon Surf Shop, and generated about $6.5 million in sales.
Since 1997, the brand has been licensed to a company owned by Ivan Spiers called Nzania, which also has the licenses for Strawberry Shortcake and Stage 28. For now, Fraley said Counter Culture plans to continue shipping the balance of its merchandise to about 30 Beyond the Beach stores — also owned by Spiers — in Southern California, Arizona and Hawaii. Fraley, who began working at O’Neill Clothing two weeks ago as the men’s designer, said the partners are exploring the next step for Counter Culture. “Selling the brand is one option…and we’ve been approached by domestic and international companies,” he said.