Bobby Bonaparte founded LiFT Label on a wing and a prayer in Portland, Oregon — we like anyone who’s a sucker for a leap of faith, with the creative chops to make it work. Bobby’s launching his new collection at this year’s Content at Ace Hotel Portland, presented by smart. Steer yourself our way this Sunday — $5 of all tickets go toward Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
I started drawing “LiFT” with an upwards arrow for the “i” on my skateboards when I was in the 8th grade. I hoped writing “LiFT” would give me more height or ‘lift’ when I was ollieing. Always seeking to progress, I found an ancient silkscreen that belonged to my aunt in my basement and taught myself how to silkscreen LiFT concepts.
I loved the creative freedom silkscreening gave me, I could put anything I wanted onto a shirt. I soon found that shirts and clothing generally were an incredible means of self expression. I began getting my message out and it seemed to resonate with people.
After interning at Weiden + Kennedy in Tokyo, I took a job in marketing causing my creativity to lagg. After about a year, I got inspired do a line of tanks for summer with a new mission to connect with the community in a positive way, a commitment to the environment, philanthropy, pushing the envelope of design and manufacturing in the Northwest and maintaing an overall positive perspective.
That summer, the line of tank tops sold out and it became clear that I could make a living doing what I love. I left my salaried job to follow my passion for LiFT. Over a year later, LiFT is carried by rad shops in Portland, San Francisco and San Diego and has been featured in local media and on Portlandia and Girls.
I’m incredibly proud that my new line is sewn entirely in Portland. I pattern out the shirts and pants. The crewnecks with Pendleton pockets are knit here by Columbia Knit. My chambray button up is made of organic cotton/hemp blend and my collaborative shirts with Foster Huntington and Mao Kudo are printed on organic cotton. It’s my goal to use more sustainable and eco-conscious fabrics moving forward, and it’s important to me to give back to the community by donating time, money and supplies to some amazing non-profits like Ecotrust, Salmon Nation, p:ear, The Listening Archive & Focus the Nation. LiFT is a member of 1% for the Planet, an organization founded by Yvon Chouinard, and we donate at least 1% of our total sales to an non-profit of our choice (Ecotrust).
The company has evolved immensely since it’s conception. I’m happy that “LiFT” and the “STAY LiFTED” mantra have remained a constant in my life. On days when things are especially overwhelming, I take a moment to breathe and remind myself to stay lifted.
And, yes, I am related to Napoleon. My father’s father hired a genealogist to trace back the lineage to Corsica and the man himself. We share a similar nose, stature and drive.
It’s obvious, however, that Bobby has that chip that Napoleon was missing about everyone working together for the greater good. Evolution! It’s a beautiful thing!