So who is this man, Larry Zahn, behind TIG3R12 Clothing?
Originally from Trenton, NJ. Relocated to Phoenix, AZ when I was two for better weather and employment opportunities 😊. Primarily grew up in the North Phoenix area with my mom raising my brother and I as a single mother. Amazing mom who worked hard her entire life and taught me the art of independence and hustling to make it. I had a pretty normal lower middle-class childhood growing up in the greatest era of all time; the 1970’s and 1980’s. Always loved sports and played football a lot, but organized sports like tackle football were expensive. It steered me towards the best possible alternatives, BMX and skateboarding. These are the sports that shaped me and later introduced me to motocross, snowboarding, wake surfing, mountain biking, etc. I’ve found a great circle of family and great friends in this sports arena and that’s why my clothing line centers around it. Let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger…but this keeps me actively in the scene by sponsoring young athletes, attending events and supporting what I love.
Tell us about the name?
I’ll leave you with this. TIG3R12 is an intriguing name with a good marketing hook. It started off quite honestly as an inside joke amongst friends. There is nothing inappropriate or derogatory behind it. It’s all about friendships, having fun and living life on your own terms. I learned how to do my first screen and make a t-shirt with the common spelling TIGER12 in 2018. The reaction and puzzled looks on people’s faces, when they saw me wearing the shirt, was priceless. Lightbulb went off. I’ve got a great name and have always wanted to start a clothing company since I was 15. I married the two ideas and It was on from that point.
What clothing brand(s) has been your biggest influencer?
Hands down, Stussy circa 1985-1995. The surf/skate/streetwear vibe hooked me immediately at the age of 15. I worked and skated for a well-known local shop called Vans California Daze. I vividly remember the day we got some boxes in from a new clothing brand called Stussy. I was instantly like “WTF?” It was love at first site. Just so simple, clean and fresh. Another big influence would have to be Fox. They have captured such a large target audience that we also cater too. Shout out to Brixton, Volcom, Hurley and Quiksilver/Roxy too. Quiksilver has reached such a wide audience, it’s ridiculous!
Why buy TIG3R12 clothing? What should people know?
I’ve been fortunate enough to live the experience I’m selling. This is not some wealthy entrepreneurs' or corporate purchased company pretending to know anything about the lifestyle. This company is firmly rooted in the extreme sports culture. I’m fortunate to have also had more than 30 years of experience in the Corporate 50/500 world. That gives us the insight to not only provide designs and products our customer’s love, but we also have significant real world business experience. We are dedicated to sourcing US products and services, leveraging high quality products, affordable pricing and providing an easy and enjoyable customer experience.
I want people to truly understand the authenticity of this brand and our efforts to encourage youth sports in this arena to survive and flourish. Our brand has a polished look because we care immensely about our reputation, the quality of our products, the quality of people we associate and do business with and long term sustainability. The money and love going into this endeavor comes from humble beginnings and a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make it happen. Unfortunately, because we have it together, some people perceive TIG3R12 as a corporate brand with lots of money and disconnect from the end user. That is not at all the case. I just really want to set the record straight on that.
What is the short term/long term vision for TIG3R12?
I’m all about keeping it real. Originally it was just an idea/hobby. Then it evolved into “hey, I’m cool with just designing my own wardrobe.” Then it became ‘hey, we might be on to something here.’ Then the dream became seeing a stranger walk down the street in a TIG3R12 shirt that we didn’t give them. Those milestones have come and gone. We now have customers and brand ambassadors on four different continents and we’re continuing to gain traction. Quite frankly, the long-term vision has shifted to becoming a household brand within the next 10 years and I’m optimistic we’ll do exactly that.
What sets TIG3R12 apart from the rest?
We’ve already mentioned price, cultural roots, quality, customer experience, sourcing US products, etc. I think beyond that, and very importantly, is innovation. For example, our Customizer Tool. How many times have you loved a logo or design, but it was not on a hoodie or you would prefer another color not offered? Like Burger King says, “Have it your way” with our Customizer Tool. Build your own product, upload a design, add text….whatever you want. TIG3R12 is the paradigm pioneer in this space. Until recently, I was not aware of a single brand offering this unique option except for T12. Imitation is the highest form of flattery.
I’m also very proud of supporting young athletes through sponsorship, forming coalitions with other local small businesses and our philanthropy work. This will always be a prominent part of our business model. I am so incredibly proud of my community and could not imagine ever not having roots in Phoenix.
In a super tough market, how does TIG3R12 you survive long term?
Easy. By comparison to most startup companies, we’ve done so on a shoestring budget. If I do say so myself, I’m very good at getting bang for my buck. It’s engrained in my brain and ultimately pays off for the customer. I don’t accept the norms or inflated pricing for something I can learn to do myself. There is always a work-around or “more ways to skin a cat.” I don’t even know what that means, but have heard it since I was a kid. I get the concept, but it’s disturbing to visualize or think about. Anyway…I’m not going to give away my secret recipe for sustainability, but I can guarantee you that we are going to be around indefinitely regardless of sales revenues. Not only that, we will also avoid brand dilution caused by asset liquidation and still offer our customers the widest array of products and colors.
Who do you want to give a shout out to?
Ironically, I first want to thank the naysayers and pessimists who have encouraged me to quit or talked down about TIG3R12.. You see, I turn negativity to positivity like your body turns carbohydrates into energy. It fuels my strength and tenacity to persevere. I live by the word of Lady Sovereign..."love me or hate me, it's still and obsession"...you know the rest.
My mom first and foremost. My older brother Doug, who in place of an absent father, provided me with a source of inspiration and a male figure to look up to. My kids, Alyssa and Justin and my small circle of friends and people that I love. You know who you are.
Jon Yousko, singer of local punk band The Harvest/Fade to Black, skater and Manager at Vans California Daze. A local legend, but humble and down to earth guy, who gave the skate grommets the time of day. You have no idea what influence you had on making me the man I am today, which speaks to your humility. Thank you!
Lastly, my new TIG3R12 family. This is an “us” endeavor, not an ‘I’ endeavor. There is no “I” in team. Special Thanks to my team who supports and believe in TIG3R12…Danny DeNicola, Camron Swanson, Sarkis Johnson, Joe Descheen, Turtle, Alex Little, PJ Failla, Ricardo Garcia, Arik Griggs, Blake Rhodes and Dan Emrey.
You say “We” a lot. Who is we?
My crew of people that we sponsor and the brand ambassadors that have been gracious enough to support TIG3R12. I could not do this without their support, influence, ideas and friendship. “We” will struggle and rise together as a company.
Who are your influences?
So, I think of this as influences outside of my family and friends. Outsiders who have helped influence and shape me as a person. Tony Hawk…I know it’s widely considered a cliché and typical answer, but think about it. Who has propelled the sport of skateboarding more than him and remained a positive and respectable role model? Chris Miller…the most fluent, fast and stylish skater I have ever seen. Style and grace counts bigtime in my book. Perry Farrell, from Janes Addiction, for making me like his music so much that I quit a job to go see Jane's Addiction in concert. Philip Crosby for his books about quality and customer service and Thomas Kuhn for his publications on paradigms. Life changing stuff!
Tell us stupid stuff about you that you might be embarrassed to admit?
I’m a very picky “no garnish” guy who eats like a four-year-old. I also don’t like seafood, but wish that I did. I find myself looking at TV, but don’t absorb anything because my mind is too busy thinking about doing the next thing. I find it hard to relax...there’s so much to do still. I’m a reality TV junkie and am hooked on 90 Day Fiancé. That’s enough, I’ve got a reputation to uphold lol.
What’s behind the #ANYWEAR hashtag and “Join The Movement” term you often refer to?
Anywear is a play on words relating to streetwear, but has a substantial meaning. We aim to appeal to a diverse market. Anytime, anyplace, anyone…Anywear. Meaning, clothing for anyone and any occasion.
Joining the movement simply refers to ditching the mainstream brands and taking a chance on something new. Investing in a fresh alternative and supporting an up-and-coming brand.