It Was Just Supposed To Be A Clothing Brand

The Canucks have taken far too much of my cranial time lately, trying to figure out the next blitzkrieg post to get readers interested and talking about the doom and gloom that is the new Canucks reality. Thankfully, the start of the summer has given me new life to just enjoy what’s right in front of me: my amazing family and the city you are surely jealous of.

With that, I thought, what is interesting enough to read that isn’t about the Canucks? Whether you care or not, Always90four was not supposed to be a blog. OK, lets make this a little more clear: it was supposed to be a clothing brand with a blog that accompanied it much like some of the famous streetwear brands that have taken over North America.

When I was still working sports retail  back in 2004, Von Dutch made its way emergence into the market. At first I thought, “Oh cool, Vin Diesel is wearing it”. It was vintage, it was original and it was….EXPENSIVE. $60 for a mesh hat? You have got to be kidding me? There had to be a better way. LIttle did I know later in life, Macklemore was right.

After seeing one of my co-workers make the plunge, I vowed I could do it just as good or better for a fraction of the price. I didn’t need Von Dutch to be cool, I was already cool. So my journey began.

Nice thought.

I bought a few mesh snapbacks, a few flexfits and constantly doodled in Paint on my laptop at home. Eventually, I turned those hats into a personal brand called Spank. I was excited to show off my wears and those who knew me closely understood what was up.

I didn’t really push it any further but I pretty much wore out those lids, now two of them accompany me to dodgeball. Spank was going to be cool, it was going to be personal and eventually I’d see my logo in stores and I could bid adieu to those high priced garments and offer something that really, all I wanted was to see out there and clog up my closet.

I had friends ask me if I was going to keep going with it and I basically shrugged it off that I didn’t have the artistic ability to take much further without a real artist beside me. And in 2006, Spank as a brand idea basically died when I moved to the Lower Mainland and made a trip to West 4th Ave in Vancouver.

Spank was ALREADY a women’s clothing store. My wife and I walked in and that decided it: it was over. It wasn’t though. A trip later in the fall back home to Kelowna had me laying in bed looking at the ceiling thinking “What would I call this thing, I needed to keep it alive somehow”.

1:00 am came and I swear to you the name just clicked: Always90four. Spelt exactly the way you see it. I was always talking about the Canucks and any time we as fans got debating, it always came back to that magical run in 1994. Sure, the Canucks never won the Cup that year but it was the lightning rod for nostalgia.

I spent 2 hours thinking about all the ideas I could put together and eventually I needed sleep. This was my next step, but how?

I knew I had to have it Canucks based and I wanted the events and street/sport culture of 1994 to be the basis of it. So much happened that year: OJ, the World Cup, the Stanley Cup, Mrs. Doubtfire and so on. I wanted to hold onto a bit of my childhood and give it a modern spin.

There is a clothing brand that I have followed since approx. 2004 called The Hundreds. They started from nothing and now are sold around the world; who knew a little streetwear brand with a cult following could get so big? There are two articles that Bobby Hundreds wrote on their blog that have helped keep my fire burning for what is now Always90four: ABE and Screen Resolution.

I highly suggest you read these two and see how something can come from nothing and how “No” is a state of mind.

My wife first and foremost badgered me to start blogging and get this thing going because quite frankly, no one is going to buy a t-shirt if they have NO IDEA what it’s about. So after a few half hearted attempts with some other blogs, I started this one.

Facebook and Twitter have really helped the blogosphere get the little, unknown blogs off the ground. Writing about the Canucks came natural for me as does humour and fantasy sports rants. I just typed, published and waited.

Tweeting my efforts across the Twitter world to any proven writer that would listen was my goal. Bob McKenzie, Dan Murphy, the Vancouver Canucks, Blake Price and other local talents were my targets…oh and Pass it To Bulis I think.

Then the day came. I got an email from a buddy saying I was going to be famous and blah blah blah. I had no idea what he was getting on about. He told me to check Pass it to Bulis (at the time a Vancouver Sun blog) and sure enough my blog was in the top 4 on their site, linked and everything.

I think i maxed out around 360 people that day and I knew I had to keep going. They had a Stink in Link feature twice a week that exposed blogs from around the land talking Canucks. It got pretty fun after that.

I had joined a few sites that came and went before going back on my own. I decided to just focus on me. A new season had began and Willie Desjardins was the new Canucks coach and somehow his phrase “real good” was getting blown out of proportion. So I typed a little ditty.

So, it went big. Reddit, Canucks Army and their leader, Thomas Drance (big wig blogger at the Sportsnet) noticed. Something around 1300 people read my ramblings that day. But no one knew who I was I thought. I think i peed a bit.

I now write the game day previews for CA and have gained a whole new audience, new friends and a new direction.

From clothing brand to habitual blogger, life’s weird. Oh, and the clothing brand?

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It's like Christmas morning

A post shared by Ryan Hank (@always90four) on

Its been a pretty random year but it feels like it’s just beginning. Hopefully hats are the next surge and as for this little blog?

I could only imagine.

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