Street Romance: Ruckus Apparel and Josh Schmitz

Photography by Amy Jenkins @miggie81

I shook the snow and grey slush off my tan boots (the ones that are terrible for Winter in Denver, but they make my outfit rock, so anything for fashion, ya dig?) before walking through the glass door of Bellwether Club, the awesomely unique location on east Colfax that is coffee shop, whiskey bar, barber shop, and boutique all under one roof. "Cappuccino, please" I told the barista with oversized glasses, before walking up to a man in an army green jacket and torn jeans, drinking water on the counter. I shook the hand of Josh Schmitz, founder of Ruckus Apparel as well as Bellwether Club.

As I headed to the back to start Josh's interview, I grabbed my coffee cup and glanced over at the clothes hanging on the far wall. A black beanie stood out to me and I made a mental note to build an outfit around it (I love my long hair, but some days beanie = lifesaver). Below is what I put together: All Black. Black pants, black long sleeve, and a black shirt around the waist, topped with a necklace by The Giving Keys.  The Deathcrew beanie is the finishing touch on a grunge-inspired outfit. Maybe it was a recent viewing of The Craft (1996) that inspired my inner goth. And yes, those are the tan boots that put my balance at risk.

Blue Background Long shot

AR: Thank you for having me. Can you tell me how and when did Ruckus get started?

JS: 2009, I had a friend that worked at a screen printing shop and I could pay him in six packs of beer and he'd let me mess around with the screen printers after they were closed. I never wanted to own a company, I just had a fashion sense and wanted something no one else had. That turned into my friends wanted some, friends of friends wanted some, then I was selling shirts out of my trunk. I'd sell 50 shirts, and use the money to make 300 shirts, and so on. I still don't take a salary from Ruckus, I have all these side hustles because every dime that's made from Ruckus stays in Ruckus, it's how we're able to grow.

AR: That's amazing! By the way, I love the new collection. What inspires your designs?

JS: Everything. I try very hard to not pay attention to trends. I try to be utilitarian, durable, I have Ruckus shirts from 7 years ago. Athletic, because of my Rugby background. I try to be timeless too, very little color, almost everything we do is black, white, and grey. For the women's side, I rely on my designer Edgar's wife, Edie, who takes our designs and graphics and tweaks it to what she thinks our women's clothing should look like.

AR: Quick off-topic question, Favorite food?

JS: Chicken nuggets.

AR: Cool! What's your favorite color?

JS: Black

Looks like I was right on the money by going with black. Here's a close up of the Deathcrew beanie, as well as my sometimes-untamable hair. #CurlsForDays

Blue Background Closeup

For those meeting me for the first time, I love to create new outfits using the same clothes, just wearing them differently. For a second getup featuring the Deathcrew beanie, I took a classic approach: black & white. I wore a white long sleeve H&M shirt and threw on a black denim kimono. The beanie gives it the street edge I love.

Amish Beanie Medium Shot


AR: So, what is DEATHCREW?

JS: The Ruckus diehard fans would associate with DEATHCREW. It's a mentality that says 'if death is a victory, how afraid of life can we be?', it's a time management ideal that recognizes we have a limited amount of heartbeats, so A) What are you investing those heartbeats in? and B) Would you be doing anything differently? At the end of the day, I gave it my all. It's like going to the gym, just going doesn't do anything for you, what matters is how you spent your time there. Time is more precious than gold or oil, money can't buy it and once you've used it you can never get it back, so it's about spending that time wisely.

AR: Love that. What is something Ruckus apparel hopes to accomplish?

JS: What I love about fashion is it can literally change how you feel. Almost like a wedding ring, it might look awesome but it makes you feel connected and valued. Ruckus is not solving a fashion problem, we're solving a community and connection problem. I love being part of the process where someone might have self-doubt and then they put on that piece of clothing and tell themselves "I got this." I love restoring confidence in people and that's what Ruckus hopes to do.

Speaking of clothing where I tell myself "I got this", I'm obsessed with their 70's inspired Groovy Deathcrew sweater. I paired it with a white longline shirt, black cherry colored shoes and I folded my black skinnies to go with a current streetstyle trend. Yes, it's winter, but going sockless is the clincher. Back to you, Josh!

Ruckus Shirt 2

AR: You said you don't follow trends. How do you stay relevant? JS: By understanding we're not the best as what we do. Restoring confidence in people and making them feel sexy will never go out of style.

AR: Do you have any mentors? JS: Tommy Green of Sleeping Giant. He's one of my great friends, I spoke at his leader's retreat a few months ago on doing ministry outside of church walls.

AR: I love Sleeping Giant! Last question, tell me something random about yourself: JS: I'm learning how to play Magic: The Gathering. So if any of your readers like MTG, I'll buy free drinks at Bellwether if they come play me.

Ruckus Shirt 1

I left Bellwether Club not just with a new appreciation for Ruckus apparel but also inspired to push even further on my dreams. Hopefully you'll find a spark of inspiration to fuel your dreams as well. Tune in next time as I explore Streetwear around Denver and be sure to check out, Bellwether Club, or @ruckusapparel on Instagram for the new Fall/Winter collection.

And, of course, check out the outfits I put together on Blank Canvas, and @Blankcanvasfashion on Instagram.