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Photo by Chris Casella

Power Suit: Brandon Fuss-Cheatham

Trying to shoehorn a new business into the already crowded retail marketplace that is the Short North is no small feat. Opening up a storefront for a t-shirt line just a few blocks from Homage’s flagship location is just plain ballsy.

But when the whole philosophy behind your brand is to kick up your feet and kind of not give a damn, strong moves are de rigueur.

Brandon Fuss-Cheatham is another uptick in a trending theme: former Ohio State athletes coming home to roost in Columbus, bringing budding businesses with them. The former Buckeye point guard forged west after graduation, signing on with the Los Angeles-based 24-Hour Fitness as their Southern California youth basketball director.

Life in the sun and the local fashions stuck with Fuss-Cheatham (pronounced foose CHEET-um), even after moving back to Columbus to be part of 94Fifty technology in Dublin, the company responsible for the world’s first “smart” basketball.

Fuss-Cheatham is not a suit-and-tie kind of guy, so getting him gussied up for a photo shoot was a challenge of its own. But then that’s the idea behind his current venture, Lamp Apparel, and the product soon to adorn the walls of his new shop, opening up at 815 N High St.

“Out in California, t-shirt, ripped up jeans, and sandals – that is the suit.”

An initial investment from a close friend from college got things up and running, and online sales have justified the move into the brick-and-mortar space, currently under renovation. Fuss-Cheatham spent some time with (614) talking about the identity of the company and its role in the modern Short North climate.

How do you see yourselves fitting into the fashion scene here, up against companies like Homage and Kingsrowe?
Homage paved the way for this type of fashion. They kind of started it here in Columbus. The thing with our brand, ours is a little more of a lifestyle thing. Not just sports or fashion, but stuff that’s a bit edgier.

I’d had ideas for shirts, little sayings all the time out in California. You hear something funny, and you say, “That should be a t-shirt.” It’s as simple as that. Just hanging out, having fun, clowning around. I got back, met up with Scott [the primary investor], and we said, “Let’s have some fun.”

It’s called Lamp Apparel. Be honest. Is ‘lamping’ a real word?The word lampin’ is used in California a lot. I’ve been using it since I was a teenager. It means chillin’, relaxin’. I heard it in a song once way back when. It’s just about being laid back, comfortable, all that.

A little research provided all the proof I needed; it is, in fact, used in several hip hop tracks by the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Lil’ Wayne.

Were you aware that a “lampin” is also a kind of diaper, commonly used in the Phillipines? Shitty.

Back to the edgy thing. Are you actively trying to be a little maverick, a little cavalier? To push the boundaries?
Absolutely. A lot of the shirts we do are a little out there, and we have to be a little careful sometimes. We use likenesses. That’s about as much as I can say.

What’s your best selling shirt?
I’d rather not say.

What about the store? What’s it going to be like?
White, bright, clean – nothing on the walls. We’re going to let the t-shirts be the art. About 43 designs. We’ll have music on, a television playing cool stuff, maybe some beers for tasting. It’ll be fun, I can guarantee that.

 White, bright, clean – nothing on the walls. We’re going to let the t-shirts be the art. About 43 designs. We’ll have music on, a television playing cool stuff, maybe some beers for tasting. It’ll be fun, I can guarantee that.

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