The Parton Brothers Go Global
They do production all over the world—and have spent some quality time with Benazir Bhutto.
Shea and Raan Parton, the California brothers behind the socially conscious (but not preachy) men’s line Apolis, have been certified globetrotters since elementary school. These days, they put their traveling skills to good use by sourcing materials and doing production in the countries where they have the strongest ties. Here, older brother Raan walks us through some of the destinations that appear on their itineraries again and again.
Shea (right) in the foothills of the Himalayas with a member of the cycling team for Rapha, a British company Apolis has partnered with.
“I’ve probably been there six or seven times, mainly to New Delhi, Mumbai, and Agra. I went for the first time when I was 12, I think. A lot of the perspective for our company comes from having been brought up by incredible parents who invested a lot in our education and thought that the best way to really understand a country’s culture was just to go there.”
“One of the last times I was in Nepal was for the wedding of a very well-connected and revered family friend. A police marching band played at the ceremony, and we sat with Benazir Bhutto at the reception in India. Bringing employment into a country is a lot easier than bringing money, but it’s still tough. Once some power-tripping customs guy in Nepal made us pay $5,000 to bring in yarn. That really affects the cost of goods sold.”
Taken by Raan during his last trip to Uganda, at the cotton initiative supported by Invisible Children.
“We’re looking to start some new projects in Vietnam. Vietnam was ruled by the French for a hundred years and then occupied by the U.S., and it’s a really long-term process to build trust and to learn about each culture. It’s like a moving target. The last time I was in Vietnam for about three weeks, I bought a motorcycle—a sixties-era Russian Minsk—and put over 2,000 miles on it. It was such an amazing way to see the country.”
“Working in Africa has been a challenge—well, every new country is a challenge, but there’s a lot more development attention going on in Africa. In Uganda, we work with Invisible Children, which is a youth-minded non-profit that’s had a bigger effect on Uganda than all of the other non-profits combined—and it’s just, like, two, 28-year-old guys. We work with them to produce a cotton fabric that we use in luggage, tote bags, and brief cases. We’d like to figure out how to do T-shirts and stuff, too, but it’s a ton of work.”
Check out the (striking) linen tie Apolis designed exclusively for Of a Kind.