Southern California’s Beta Unit introduces streetwear to an apocalyptic aesthetic that’s usually reserved for the runway. In the upcoming fall collection, knits with mystical-looking geometric patterns bring crop formations to mind and functional details fit for nomads, like a hood that converts into a scarf, feature prominently. “Like many of our other projects, we were driven by simply wanting to see an idea we had in our minds become reality,” explains Beta Unit’s Tim Sheehy.
Based in Encinitas, CA, Sheehy founded the label ten years ago along with Michael Schwarz, Austin Pinder and Bryan Ray. The group of friends came together through skateboarding and snowboarding, collaborating on projects that ranged from video art to screen printing. After Beta Unit’s t-shirts found their way to Los Angeles stores in 2005, the group worked its way up a “steep learning curve” to cut-and-sew pieces, which they first launched in ’08.
“Some of our early hoodie designs were pretty conceptual; we had never seen anything like them in real life, so we had no idea if they would even work,” Sheehy reveals. “But everything just looked so rad sketched on paper, so we taught ourselves how to sew, design and produce, and thankfully we figured it out.”
The label also experiments with denim, painting it by hand or applying wax coatings. A black denim wash turns red underneath with wear. “We wanted to offer denim that appeared to age or wear in naturally, yet at the same time unnaturally,” Sheehy says.