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FXF Interview: FORM Athletics and Urijah Faber

Since launching back in early 2010, FORM Athletics has quickly established itself as one of the fastest growing brands in the MMA clothing world. Having carved out a niche in the Mixed Martial Arts apparel industry with a fresh line of fight gear and lifestyle apparel that’s free from skulls, daggers and death, FORM is quickly changing the face of fight fashion with a collection that’s inspired by some of the world’s toughest athletes.

In an effort to find out what’s in the works for 2011 and beyond, we once again caught up with company co-founders Mark Miller and Urijah Faber to get the inside scoop on what you can expect to see from FORM in the near future. Scroll down below to check out our exclusive interview with FORM Athletics President Mark Miller, followed by a Q&A with the former WEC Featherweight Champion and current number one UFC Bantamweight Contender – “The California Kid” Urijah Faber.

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Mark, a lot has changed for FORM Athletics since first launching in 2010. What’s the story behind the brand and how has it evolved since then?

Mark Miller: Same story, still on track with the original plan. We brought in some very talented product and marketing people, and have reorganized our US sales structure. Form is now available in USA, Europe, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Philippines,Hong Kong, Taiwan and a few other countries and we are close on Australia and New Zealand.

FORM has definitely helped move the MMA fashion industry in a different direction. What’s your take on the current state of the industry?

Honestly, MMA fashion seems a little confused at the moment. I’m not sure anyone could consider MMA based brands “fashionable”.  I still see lots of skulls, foil and scrolls, but that look has been watered down by so many different companies, you see Ed Hardy guys wearing it as well as 50’ish grandmas sporting the “uber” hip skullduggery look. When I look at what the athletes wear I see them wearing more fashion forward bands like G-Star & Diesel, and cleaner more athletic garments when training.

The FORM fight team is stacked with talent – Urijah Faber, Jon Jones, Anthony Pettis, Chad Mendes, etc. How do you go about choosing members of the FORM fight team?

Urijah Faber deserves most of the credit, he knows all the athletes, their training habits, history, personality, and he has such incredible access, insight, and judgment. Normally Urijah calls me and we discuss and make a mutual decision. So far so good!

In your mind, what type of athlete best fits the FORM Athletics mold?

They key word is “Athlete”. We like dedicated, marketable athletes, that we can market on a broader level. Personality, community service, fan following, social media, Twitter and Facebook participation are all factors in why we would choose to sponsor an athlete. The best people seem to rise to the top in a very organic way, those are the type of people we look at.

Any new fighters being added to the team anytime soon?

Probably not in 2011, but we have our eyes on a couple of people for 2012.

Besides tees, hoodies and fight shorts, what else does FORM have in the works?

We are launching a PerFORMance range of compression and training garments with superior wicking and antimicrobial properties in June 2011 for immediate delivery to retailers and consumers.

We have developed & prototyped the “Super Short” on a very technical proprietary woven fabric which is 20% lighter that our current short, has incredible stretch properties, flat seams sewn with lycra thread so the seams stretch, with both wicking and antimicrobial properties. We are working on the price but its looking like $85-$90 retail. Looking at Fall 2011 deliveries.

A contemporary apparel collection of premium denim, woven shirts, jackets, premium T-shirts, sweaters and fleece, with first deliveries in early Fall.

A great collection of New Era, Flexfit, and knit beanies for Fall 2011.

Footwear – training shoes, sandals, slides, and some lifestyle footwear slated for 2012.

There was a limited edition FORM Athletics x K-Swiss Urijah Faber track jacket released recently. Any other plans to collaborate with K-Swiss in the future?

Nothing on the table at this point but collabs seem to come up fast. We were approached by a really cool company for a collab that we might be able to pull off for holiday 2011, but no contracts signed yet.

Speaking of which, what exactly is the relationship between K-Swiss and FORM Athletics?

K-Swiss owns FORM Athletics so we are part of the K-Swiss family, however the FORM office is 2 hours away from K-Swiss HQ and FORM has its own brand personality and DNA.

FORM tends to outfit fighters head-to-toe with complete walkout kits. How important is it for you to have full dibs on the fighter’s walkout and fight wear?

Head-to-toe was our strategy from day one, and it’s very important. We have great respect for our athletes and don’t consider them billboards. They are the face and personality of our brand, which is one of the things that makes the FORM brand so different from the other brands in the space. What message do you send to a consumer when you have 4-5 brands pasted all over you? “I’m a billboard that my manager uses to sell ad space”? I can’t stand that attitude and find it disrespectful to the athlete.

Rumor has it there’s a Jon Jones signature shoe in the works. What’s the story on this and when will it be available?

Footwear development timelines are 14 months, so that one is slated for 2012.

Any plans on extending the brand into areas outside of MMA?

Yes, we never claimed to be an MMA brand, our mantra is “Designed and inspired by the world toughest Athletes”. Look for more athlete expansion with some of the world’s best.

What can fans expect to see next from FORM Athletics in 2011?

An incredible new website, we’ve been working very hard on this and it will be the hub for all things FORM. I cant wait, we are all very excited for this launch.

More promotion and collaboration with our marketing partners. We just launched “Go Time with Showtime” promotion with Toyo Tires to promote Anthony Pettis. We have some other brand collabs in queue as well as product launches in the second half of the year.

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Urijah, you’re facing Dominick Cruz for the UFC Bantamweight title at UFC 132. How do you see it all going down?

Urijah Faber: It’s going to be a good fight. Dom has a unique style and so do I. I’m going to try to finish it from the get go. I’m expecting fireworks and the W.

Quite a bit has changed for FORM Athletics since you first wore it out to the cage back at WEC 46. How much has the brand grown since then and where do you see it headed?

I feel like the brand was in its infant stages and it was just an idea at that point. It has since become one of the leading brands in MMA and I’m excited to see it grow. We have some of the most exciting fighters in the world repping our brand and we are adding more cool features daily.

What’s your all-time favorite piece of FORM Athletics apparel?

I’ve really been into the perFORMance stuff lately but I really like the FORM Athletics V-neck Crested Sweater that I wear all the time.

Are you involved in the creative process at all on new designs?

I give a lot of direction but we have a great design team that takes care of the artwork. I’m always pushing them to create things that I like.

The K-Swiss Kenny Powers commercials are hilarious. Any more on the way?

There are more on the way and I will be doing them with Jon Jones. The new commercials are going to be classic!

“No Shirt Nation” seems to be getting pretty popular these days on Twitter. What’s the story here?

I just threw a “No Shirt Nation” comment into one of my tweets and it seems like a lot of people can relate to my lifestyle. A good day to me involves being in the sun with my shirt off. Just the California way.

Is there a new Uirjah Faber walkout kit in the works for UFC 132? If so, what can fans expect to see?

Expect to see something great. FORM Athletics is all about quality and great style.

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For a look at some of the latest MMA clothing and fight gear from FORM Athletics including tees, hoodies, fight shorts and more, check out the FORM Athletics collection.

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