Behind Coldest Winter - with Anoid TV's Jason

by CRMY Studios

Background: Jason hosts a podcast called Anoid TV which up-and-coming creatives from every industry and space. It's all about providing a platform for creators to speak on, explain, or add substance to their work in any way they please. He sent me a list of questions about our Coldest Winter collection before the drop, and I got WAY behind and turned my interview into him much later than I wanted. 

However... We both still wanted to share it. So here it is.... 


What was the inspiration for the collection? 

The main inspiration for Coldest Winter was this collection of vintage Alaska tees we'd accumulated for the past two or so years. Honestly, curating shirts in this manner is a method we practice often. When you're thrifting, or at least thrifting in the way we do, you end up coming across a lot of shirts that have similar themes - some more specific than others. So if we start to come across specific shirts that align with our interests, we start collecting them. Once we have sourced enough garments that match a specific theme, we base a whole capsule collection on them. So, here we are at the end of 2022 with a dozen or so Alaskan-related garments, and the beginning of 2023 just felt like the right time to start working on them. In addition to the Alaska tees, we had a ton of teal, sea blue, grey, and white sweatshirts that paired nicely with the tees. After a lil' more curation of some other clothes that fit this color palette/theme, we had a whole collection on our hands. 

Besides curating garments, the collection's storyline is based on a mysterious event called The Dyatlov Pass Incident. Essentially, back in 1959, a group of Soviet hikers died in the Ural Mountains. The hikers' deaths and everything surrounding the event are bizarre, and it's unclear what exactly happened to them. The hikers' mysterious deaths, of course, created tons of conspiracy theories - one of those theories suggesting that the abominable snowman killed the hikers. I've always been into strange and mysterious events - especially ones with cryptids. I mean, if believing in Yetis and Mothmen makes life more interesting, then why not. I don’t know. Something about the unknown draws me in, so it felt authentic to use the Dyatlov Pass as the inspiration for this collection. 

And what's a better way to create a new story than base it on a preexisting one? I'll talk more about the collection's storyline later.

Basing the collection off an abominable snowman attack also plays into the whole CRMY brand. Many of our graphics and characters are monsters. I think this stems from our love for Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes, Halloween, and monster books. CRMY is such a heavy graphics-driven brand and I liked the concept of writing a story and then depicting the story on the clothing in the collection. 

Beyond the Dyatlov Pass Incident and the abominable snowman, I've always been into spy stuff. You know - CIA, secret societies, and all that jazz. I mean, if the Yeti and Mission Impossible could exist in the same world - that would be pretty cool - right? While thinking about how I could retell the Dyatlov Pass story - I came up with the idea of creating a Paranormal Investigation Agency. Since our story involved the abominable snowman attacking a group of explorers, I based part of the collection on an investigation agency tasked with tracking the abominable snowman down. It's kind of like Mystery Inc, but with more R-rated material... 

Anyways, yeah! Those are the main inspirations for this collection. Essentially we wanted to do more in-depth world-building because we're trying to take CRMY to the next level.

What was different about this collection from others 

From a business standpoint - what's different about this collection is that we're offering limited batches of ready-to-wear clothing (and by that, I mean screen-printed tees and hoodies). We’ve only dropped 1-of-1 pieces in the past, meaning everything was unique, handmade, and priced accordingly. What we realized over 2022 is we only offered this exclusive product, and that priced a lot of people out. This year, starting with Coldest Winter, we want to grow the original brand model and offer low-key and accessible products that still represent core aspects of CRMY. 

Besides the business stuff - I think the biggest element that stands out in this collection is the 5,000-word short story I wrote to go along with it. Yes, I wrote an actual story. 

In the past, I've occasionally written blog posts about our drops - to give them more context. This time - I wanted to create and share an immersive experience. I don't talk about it, but I used to write for fun "back in the day." But... it was a lot of bullshit and stupid stuff. However, I know I'm a decent writer, and I've wanted to challenge myself to get back into writing. So, I saw a way to pair this personal goal with a drop because, as a whole, it helps our overall rebranding goals (more on rebranding later too).

Now, not every collection we make will have a short story that goes along with it, I think it's an entertaining concept we'll sprinkle in here and there. I find writing a lot of fun, and I also really enjoy reading. Writing short stories for CRMY feels authentic - which is something we're trying to push. Eventually, we want to release animations and short films with different CRMY collections, so why not start with a short story?

How did you devise the idea to tie the story into the release? 

The idea to pair the story and the release together just came naturally. Originally we were going to illustrate a comic to help visually tell the story, but we didn't have the time to execute the comic the way we wanted. Since I already created a story outline for the comic we planned to make, I just fleshed it out and wrote a short story. Peter and I always aim to tell a story through CRMY, and with this collection, I figured why not tell a real story?   

After writing the story, we released it on our website in three separate chapters throughout the collection's promotion. The only reason we spaced it out was it created more suspense and excitement - which is exactly what you want to do when you're marketing. Plus, what is the best kind of marketing? Storytelling. 

So yeah, it was just this natural process that felt authentic. Honestly, I don't know when the idea came about. It just kinda happened and we were like - yeah - this is going to be sick. 

Why did it feel right for this? 

The way we created Coldest Winter felt like the right progression for the brand. As I've said, the main aspect of the CRMY brand is storytelling. For example, Nocturnal Antiques, our Spring 22 collection, was about a 24/7 flea market (which was based on our personal experiences going to flea markets). Another good example is Gas 'N Go, our Summer 22 collection. In that collection, we explored racing culture and what I like to call - gas station core. However, we never tried to tell a focused story in these collections. It was more about exploring niche worlds and creating graphics inspired by that exploration. Coldest Winter is our first dive into full storytelling.

Plus, once I realized we could take the Dyaltov Pass story and spin it into our narrative - it all fits perfectly with the Alaska theme we were already planning. 

Is this a rebrand? 

I'd say yes and no. 

Yes, in the sense that Coldest Winter is the most focused and accessible collection we've released to date. I feel like I've already touched on the focus of the collection a lot - ie: storytelling and our reasoning behind it. And, I lightly mentioned accessibility earlier too, which I think is the main aspect that feels the most like a "rebrand" to me. 

When we started CRMY, we solely worked on secondhand clothing. The whole mission was to upcycle and decrease waste. Through this, we only produced one-of-a-kind garments. I think that original mission is what helped propel CRMY to the spot it's in today. People liked the DIY, upcycled aspect of it all. However, scaling a business model like this is incredibly challenging with finite resources. We certainly aim to keep the DIY, upcycle spirit close to the core of CRMY, and I hope to one day have a team of dedicated creatives to help upcycle and reuse as much clothing as possible. 

Nevertheless, CRMY needs to grow beyond simply being a 1-of-1 brand and into a brand that produces limited batches of clothing. We have some ideas that we want to see come to life, and luckily now, through the help of some local businesses, we're able to do so. Garments anywhere from high-quality, all-over screen prints to cut-and-sewn tops and bottoms. In my opinion, this is the next step for the brand. The question I'm asking myself now is, how do we take the core graphic elements of CRMY and transpose them into a higher-end, fashionable product? This is something we're figuring out this year.

I'll be honest this transition is a bittersweet decision. So I get that some people may be upset by it, and I'll out myself first for going against our original sentiment. I mean, the original sentiment of keeping stuff upcycled and DIY is why we've held out from mass-producing clothing for so long. Scaling up production, however, will help CRMY grow as a brand and allow it to be accessible to everyone. We still have a mission to produce less waste - which is why our garments will always be high quality. Peter and I have a deep love for vintage, especially vintage tees. Every shirt we make, we think about it eventually becoming vintage. When upcycling, we constantly look for the most durable, heavy-weight quality clothing. This is the same approach we'll take in our new productions and projects - quality, durability, and timelessness. I also am going to keep in mind how we can utilize as much fabric as possible when designing patterns, and I hope to be able to use overstock and recycled textiles as well. 

Probably the most obvious rebranding is the name change. This year, we changed the brand name from Creamy Studios to CRMY. The name change is a move I've been thinking about for a long time. At one point, I even considered changing the brand name, but we're in too deep for that. Truly, I think being named "creamy" has been a key selling factor for the brand; people like the provocative nature of the brand name. However, CRMY sounds more mature and professional than Creamy. When you spell out CRMY - to me it sounds like the beginning of a radio station name. I also like how it's just one letter away from ARMY - which to me conjures up classic American nostalgia (let's not get into the topic of the military-industrial complex here, and just agree that military-aesthetic is a core aspect of Americana). 

Again, we're trying to take CRMY to the next level, so I'm considering all aspects to help us get there, and the name change is crucial to me.

So in a sense, yeah, this is a rebrand. In a sense, it isn't either. We've offered limited, mass-printed tees before, and we've always concentrated on storytelling in our collections. I'd say that now we're more focused and honed in on exactly how we want to go about all this. 

What does this mean for the future of CRMY?

Oh boy, this might be the hardest question of them all... What this means for the future of CRMY is that we're taking it from an art project to a brand and business. I'll be honest, I'm burned out from airbrushing hundreds of pieces. We dropped collections almost every week in 2022 - to the point that by December - I was so brain-dead and creatively drained that I could barely find interest and enjoyment in anything... Which, okay, there's also some mental health stuff wrapped up in there - but mainly it was extreme burnout. 

In summary, going into 2023 we realized we couldn't operate the brand the same way we did in 2022. It's time for the next step. Luckily, we've partnered with a great business and organization here in Columbus that is invested in helping us get to that next level. 

So what can you expect from us in the future? You can expect collections with wider product varieties, cut-and-sew pieces, accessories, and of course... more art. I'm hesitant to say fewer 1-of-1s, because I do not want to upset anyone... but yeah, the 1-of-1s will become a little more exclusive and we hope that by providing some more accessible goods, we're making up for that gap, and not pricing out lots of people. 

You can also expect more in-depth storytelling, more behind-the-scenes content, and more creative marketing. I guess that latter part is something I didn't even touch on. We're thinking of more creative ways to market CRMY that go beyond just aesthetically pleasing airbrush videos and flats ( d videos featuring me explaining more about our collections and the brand, and hopefully, some cinematic-feeling content too.  

All in all, CRMY is no longer an art project but a real true brand. I mean, this is 2023 after all, and everyone needs to have a brand. 

Anything else about the collection, story, etc? 

Hmm... I think something fun to share is that the CPIA (the CRMY Paranormal Investigation Agency) will be a concept that pops up here and there throughout the future of the brand. 

Through our Coldest Winter collection, we introduced the CPIA Alaska Division. In future collections, we can occasionally bring this concept back but feature different divisions that tackle different paranormal occurrences. We created this new subline of CRMY that people can collect and be part of.   

This concept also helps play into the aspect of getting others involved with the collection and with the storytelling. By copying the specific CPIA pieces, people can be part of the CPIA in real life. 

Other than that - not much else to share at the moment! I just wanted to throw that little bit in there because I'm excited about this concept. 

We have an upcoming collegiate-inspired collection that will drop in March. More details on that collection are coming soon...

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