David and Mike Appel
When it comes to being a gentleman, they say it’s the inside that counts, but could the saying also apply to what you wear? That’s the hope for Related Garments (RLTD), a new, West Hollywood-based apparel company that’s hoping to change the way men look at what they wear down there.
Launched in March 2015, the company is the brainchild of Mike and David Appel, two L.A. natives who also happen to be brothers (hence the “Related” part of the company name). David, who is two and a half years older, appeared on NBC’s Fashion Star and is part of the design team at the contemporary men’s shopping club, FiveFour. Mike is the founder of a boutique branding and marketing firm. They describe themselves as “a good yin and yang” when it comes to RLTD, with David taking over designing duties and Mike working on back-end logistics.
While both brothers have traveled the world working in the fashion industry, the inspiration for starting an underwear brand came a lot closer to home. “We had an epiphany when we opened the top drawer of our dressers and saw a smorgasbord of randomness,” says David. “There were boxers and socks from five, six years ago, and nothing matched.”
To fill what they saw as a gap in the marketplace, the Appels started Related Garments, headquartered on Hammond Street, which not only offers comfortable, no-frills underwear, but also matching regular and no-show socks. Packages start at $29 and include one of each item—the perfect way, the brothers explain, to put yourself together before even putting on your clothes. “Women have been wearing matching undergarments for years,” says Mike, “but it’s often the last thing guys think about. Our goal is to be the original matching garments company for men. We’re simplifying your top drawer essentials.”
The first collection from RLTD features a contemporary, mid-rise boxer brief, with a cozier fit and just the right amount of stretch. The brothers tested out three different samples, including a traditional brief design that was ditched after Mike wore it to a meeting and, he says, “felt incredibly uncomfortable the whole time.”
The boxer briefs and matching socks come in a half dozen styles, each named after other sets of brothers. The “Manning” is a classic striped design, with precise and sharp details like the quarterback siblings it’s named after. The “Hemsworth,” meantime, is strong and masculine, with a herringbone pattern set against a bold red waistband that even Thor would approve of.
RLTD joins a host of other sock and underwear startups that have launched in the past few years. But while its competitors have infiltrated the market with loud graphics and in-your-face campaigns, RLTD is taking a simpler approach to reaching its customers.
“We’re making really comfortable underwear that’s easy to wear and buy,” Mike explains. “Plus, we’re basically throwing in two pairs of matching socks.”
The slow and steady approach is paying off. The brand’s celebrity following includes everyone from Kellan Lutz and Ed Westwick to Bill Rancic and Chris Rock, and their look book features the stars from Vanderpump Rules.
And then there’s the name. “There are real people behind ‘Related Garments,’” says Mike. “It’s a company run by my brother and I, and we 100% stand behind it.”
The brand story and product seem to adhere to the same ethos. “At the end of the day,” the brothers say, “it’s what underneath that counts.”
As Featured in West Hollywood Magazine
Model: John Economu, Two Management
Grooming by Sara Tintari using Patchology, Baxter and Seven Haircare
On location at JEFF Antiques
Written By Tim Chan
Photographs by Ryan Jerome