Valiant Brand, an apparel company inspired by the University of Michigan and created by father-son pair John and Jared Wangler, is beginning to pop up on clothing all across campus — designated by its ‘V’-shaped logo.
The Wanglers have strong ties to the University; from 1977 to 1980, John Wangler served as a quarterback for the University’s football team. His son, Jared Wangler — an LSA senior — is now a linebacker for the team.
John Wangler currently owns Top Cat Sales, a wholesale athletic apparel distributor, based in Royal Oak. However, he created and developed Valiant in August 2016 with the goal of filling a niche in fashion and sportswear.
Jared Wangler said going to school in Ann Arbor has helped him see what his consumers would wants in a brand.
“We saw an opportunity to create our own brand that would appeal to the Michigan community,” Jared Wangler said. “We’ve grown up in the culture of the University, thus we have a great understanding of what fans from the University of Michigan value and enjoy.”
Before Jared Wangler and his father could begin to promote their new apparel line, he said they made sure to establish a strong foundational core.
“My brother (Jack Wangler), my roommate (Ian Bunting), and good friend Zach Eisendrath are all major parts of the brand,” he said. “We strategized by finding where we could capitalize early on in the development of our brand.”
Originally, Jared Wangler said he suggested Victors Valiant as the name for the apparel line; however, after much consideration decided not to use it because it would limit their cliental to those affiliated with the University.
Therefore, to ensure their brand would reach everyone, the father-son pair took out ‘victors’ and kept ‘valiant.’ Its name is a spin on the University’s fight song, “The Victors.”
Although Valiant is relatively new, Jared Wangler said it has received great feedback from various celebrities such as Quavo, a member of the U.S. hip hop group Migos, Big Sean and Verne Troyer. Jared Wangler also noted the support he has received from his friends in the National Football League, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League.
“Nothing good comes easy,” he said. “It has definitely taken a lot of work, but we’ve embraced the challenge and are enjoying every step that comes with building a clothing brand.”
By diversifying its products, Jared Wangler said Valiant has seen exceptional growth, although neither Scott Hirth, co-owner of University apparel retailer The M Den, nor Wangler would disclose current sales numbers.
Various University students have also been extremely supportive of their products. Jared Wangler expressed the joy he feels when he sees students walking around campus wearing their apparel with the Valiant ‘V’ showing.
“It’s always exciting discussing future Valiant plans with other students and hearing their feedback,” he said.
LSA junior Denyne Carter said she values the uniqueness of the brand and is excited to see what Valiant has in store for the future.
“The fact the creator wants to make unique items to set Valiant apart from other retailers is important,” she said. “Being a University of Michigan student, you can never have too much Michigan apparel.”
Valiant has also launched its City Collection, shirts that represent several major United States cities, including Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh and Atlanta.
Valiant sells its clothing through its website and The M Den, which has six locations in southeast Michigan and offers online sales on mden.com.
Hirth worked with John Wangler when he was an Adidas sales representative. So, after the inception of Valiant, he further worked with him to identify what could be marketed to its customers.
LSA senior Leah Spivey, though unfamiliar with the brand, said she loves its idea and plans to support it in the future.
“I love how the brand is connected to the University of Michigan in a subtle way that allows the brand to not only connect with Michigan but everyone,” she said.