Bobby Klein and Josh Patterson are Escondido born and raised guys who founded a clothing manufacturing company that caters to the outdoors adventure enthusiast. Off The Grid is starting to attract national attention. As far as the partners are concerned, the sky is the limit.
Off The Grid, you see, “is not a place, it is a state of mind.”
Escondido has few national brands based here: Stone Brewing is one and now add Off the Grid. “It is somewhat unique to have a cut’ n sew brand in your city,” said Klein, co-owner and CEO. The company has grown 100% annually since 2017. Unlike many businesses, the pandemic didn’t knock it for a loop—it may in fact have helped.
“It didn’t hurt us,” said Klein. “We’re ninety-five percent on the web. We’re really an e-commerce brand.” And, as everyone knows, online businesses took off when customers couldn’t physically shop for clothes at the mall. Flushed with success, they signed the lease for the store during the pandemic. It has been open for seven months.
Patterson was a successful clothing designer for 20 years for brands like Quiksilver and DaKine, which specialize in outdoor apparel. His last position was head designer with PrAna. Living the outdoor life since his youth, his dream was to design a perfect outdoor pant for that lifestyle.
Patterson used a crowdfunding website Indiegogo to raise funds for his first pair of pants, the Trailblazer, buying the trademark in 2012.
He and Klein had been friends for several years, and Escondido is perfectly placed for the off-the-road enthusiast to head for the desert anytime, any weekend.
The first run of Trailblazer pants sold out in 6 weeks. At that point Klein told Patterson. “I think you need to quit your job and if you don’t I’m going to quit mine!” A marketing guy, he was so sold on the company he partnered with Patterson, quit his e-commerce and marketing agency to work fulltime. “What I always wanted to do was everything I was doing but for one company,” he said.
The Trailblazer built up a fanbase and the company took off in 2017. They then created a line of shirts and are adding flannels. They just came out with a women’s line.
They and their families and friends frequently drive their 2016 Jeep Wrangler to Ocotillo Wells or Big Bear. “We just got back from Baja to do a content shoot,” said Klein.
They just bought a 1997 Wrangler TJ Race Jeep to compete in the King of the Hammers 2022, a perilous desert competition that combines racing with rock crawling.
“The goal is that when you are looking to go on an adventure and you need clothes made to be durable and comfortable that you will go to our website,” Klein said.
Off the Grid clothes are aimed at an off-road audience. “Josh wanted to combine the best features of outdoor, workwear and tactical but maintain everyday wearability,” said Klein. “We add features to our pants like upper hip ‘mag’ pockets that are functional for EDC enthusiasts and also work well for phones and wallets.” The pockets are on the side so the wearer doesn’t have to sit on them and can easily reach them.
A signature feature of all Off The Grid pants is the pocket structure, including hidden pockets. As many as cargo pants, but they don’t LOOK like a cargo pant. The pocket configuration appeals to off roaders because they are more comfortable when driving.
“We sell a lot to Harley Davidson because of the stretch and comfort that appeals to people on long rides,” said Klein.
Sizes go up to 44, with inseams ranging from 30 to 36 inches because there are a lot of hefty bikers and off-roaders out there! They use quality fabrics, combining cotton and Lycra in a strong midweight canvas with 300 grams weight (per square meter.) “These pants fit and they are comfortable,” he said.
“EDC people like our pocket system so they can store things in the same place every time,” said Klein. Seventy-two percent of sales are men’s bottoms.
They are designed inhouse and manufactured by contractors in Indonesia and Vietnam (not China.) “We’re trying to do USA made,” said Klein. “The goal is to find a U.S. maker.” Of course, if consumers want that, it will mean paying extra for quality U.S. items.
He added, “We DO make T’s in the U.S. and they cost a little more. If we find the right factory in the U.S. we will make pants there too.”
The Grand Avenue showroom is Off The Grid’s only store for now; most sales are online and through distributors.
“I think it is exciting for Escondido to have a new brand of outdoor clothing,” said Klein. “My plan is for this brand to be in competition with the Columbias and Patagonias of the world.”
Amber Tarrac, the City of Escondido’s economic director, agrees that it is exciting to have Off The Grid in the city. “We are happy Off the Grid chose our City to call home. Our community is full of outdoor enthusiasts and Escondido is a hop, skip, and a jump away from premier desert, mountain, hiking, and camping areas. We are becoming known as the prime location for fun runs, 5ks, and cycling events – folks attending these events can find quality outdoor apparel at Off the Grid. Retailers interested in making Escondido home are encouraged to contact me and I would love to find them a spot in our City.”
Klein and Patterson consider Escondido the perfect community for their clothes. “Escondido is the outlet to the desert. We are really built for the Escondido guy. Josh and I were born here and that manifests itself in this brand,” said Klein.
Like many merchants on Grand, Klein says they are waiting expectantly for word that Cruisin’ Grand will return this year. “Josh and I both grew up here with Cruisin’ Grand so we plan to do an off-road night.”
Both men expect big things from the company, said Klein. “We are in for the long term.” He added, “We want to be more than a niche. When someone buys a piece of our clothing, we want to inspire them to go out on an adventure.”
The pandemic, he said, made people realize that they need a connection with the outdoors and each other. “This has been the best year for outdoor industry sales,” he said. “Instead of going to Disneyland, which has been closed, people are going camping. We exist to inspire more connection through adventure. We think it’s a great time to share that adventure.”
They frequently go out on adventures to test their clothes. “We embrace the lifestyle of going outdoors. We are connecting with people. Where we are going there are no cell service, so you need to actively talk to people.”
Klein has a 6th grade son who he recently bought a dirt bike for: “He forgot that he has a phone!” He added, “One way to connect with your family and friends is to have an adventure outdoors. If we can inspire people to do that we are doing our jobs!”
The goal, said Klein, “is to become a $100 million outdoor player. That’s what we are looking to do. It’s not a farfetched goal in the apparel world. That’s what we have set our sights on.”
To learn more, visit offthegridsurplus.com.