If you ask Rodrigo "T-Rod" Requejo and Nick "Crash" Dagger, the acronym "FTW" can stand for a whole host of things. The common online usage (particularly 5-10 years ago) of "For the Win" isn't one of the first phrases a FTW Gear's owners think of, but they're leaving it open to interpretation.
"Some days, you're pissed off and it's 'Fuck the World,' or other days it could be "Forever Two Wheels," T-Rod says. "On my wedding ring it says 'Forever Together Wherever,' so it could be anything."
For now, the motorcycle-based clothing line is run out of the front office of T-Rod's Speed Shop in Anaheim. A small rack stands by the door with a few examples of each shirt and hat on it, the rest tucked away in drawers and cabinets. In the back, motorcycles of all types are fixed up, and new custom bikes are created.
It's actually the bike-building that brought T-Rod, 42, and Crash, 29, to the apparel world. Seeing as both men are lifelong fans and motorcycle builders by trade (T-Rod is also an active member of a motorcycle club), they were tired of working 50-60 hours per week in a garage. As the duo looked for other opportunities to try their hands in, they realized the opening for a brand created by veterans of the motorcycle culture who didn't want to alienate those who don't ride.
"Everybody is an outlaw in one way or another," Crash says. "Even if it's just talking on the phone while driving, there are so many rules these days that don't make sense. I can eat a banana while driving. Girls can put on makeup while driving. You can shave while driving. Why can't you use your phone?"
"We want it to be for anyone who doesn't agree with how society is going," T-Rod adds. "They don't want to be told how to dress or how to talk. It's the last of the breed that doesn't just listen, and they act how they feel."
The duo doesn't intend for their shirts to only be worn by the most badass and rebellious of people. Actually, they're in the process of getting them in stores for everyone from kids on dirtbikes to surfers to soccer moms.
"We're working on new designs for other types of people," T-Rod says. "A lot of people aren't just going to wear a shirt that says 'Fuck You' on it. I have kids, I wouldn't wear that around them. 'FTW' can mean the same thing to you, but it can be something else to your kids."
More importantly, FTW Gear isn't just a couple of random guys who jumped on the biker bandwagon to capitalize on people missing their motorcycle fix since Sons of Anarchy went off the air. T-Rod and Crash are as authentic as it gets in the motorcycle world.
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"It's not for the cool factor, this is the life T-Rod's been living forever," Crash says. "We're trying to bring it back to be focused on family, friends, and a love of motorcycles. It's not based on the color of your skin or anything like that."
"Also, some of the proceeds go to "Save the Patch," which is a group raising money to prevent the government from taking the patches away from motorcycle clubs," T-Rod chimes in. "The government figures if they can take the patches away, they can get rid of the clubs. People think it's all like Sons of Anarchy and they call our clubs 'biker gangs,' but it's not like that. They don't see our families or jobs or the barbecues we have. We're just helping each other out."