BSB Fashion Week: Ohio Against The World

Like most in Ohio, Floyd Johnson was watching Ohio State play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. When a fan wearing his clothing line appeared on the screen everything changed.

As one of the hottest brands in college sports, Ohio State has become inseparable from the worlds of fashion and apparel. Whether it’s companies that have produced the coolest gear or former Buckeye athletes who have gone on to design clothing for others, the convergence of top talent and high demand has made Ohio State a force when it comes to apparel. Today, we continue our weeklong series on Ohio State and fashion with a look at how the Buckeyes and one second of TV time changed the fortunes of one Ohio company and created a new slogan for the Buckeye State.

Ohio State was leading Alabama 27-21 with about 12 minutes left in the third quarter of the College Football Playoff. Linebacker Darron Lee had just brought down Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims for a seven-yard sack to force a third and eight. On the very next play defensive tackle Michael Bennett spun inside and brought down Sims again, forcing a punt and ending what started as a promising drive by Alabama.

Buckeye fans were ecstatic in that moment. If you were watching at home you saw the camera cut to a shot of the crowd. It found an Ohio State fan with his head tilted to the heavens, screaming euphorically. The four words on his sweatshirt encapsulating the mindset of the 2015 Buckeyes: “Ohio Against The World.”

The shirt was not designed with Ohio State in mind, but for a team that lost at home to an unranked Virginia Tech team, for a team that saw two Heisman-caliber quarterbacks go down with injuries and still qualified for the College Football Playoff and for a team that was down 21-6 to the Tide just a quarter earlier, it was perfect.

“I think the stars kind of aligned,” said Floyd Johnson, owner and CEO of Ohio Against The World. “I was at home watching and after that I just kept getting screen grabs of it. I got all these notifications on Twitter and Instagram. It was a huge moment for the company and for the state of Ohio. It was awesome to be a part of that and a part of that victory.”

The Buckeyes win was a victory for Johnson, too. His company, which he started in 2011, remained small for much of its early existence, slowly gaining momentum. However, the apparel line born out of the collective chip on the shoulder of the state of Ohio got a major jumpstart following the Buckeyes win over Alabama.

“We didn’t really have the access to the inventory we needed and a lot of our customers didn’t expect for us to be as small as we were,” Johnson said of the orders flooding in following the Sugar Bowl. “We now have a warehouse location thanks to that screenshot. The business has definitely grown since then and we are looking forward to working with Ohio State in further capacities to push the message.”

While he is certainly willing to work with OSU, Johnson did not start the company with any particular school or team in mind. A Cincinnati native, Johnson used his father’s screen printer to get the business going and simply wanted to create something that could represent the state he loved.

“It’s all about being an underdog, being in the middle of nowhere,” Johnson said of the slogan. “You pay attention to the coasts and a lot of attention is taken away from Ohio. But were the heart of it all and we have to prove ourselves a lot. We are capable of doing the same things as those places. We have that same creative passion, that same drive.

“It’s relatable to anyone from Ohio. It unifies us. It bridges the gap form Columbus to Cleveland to Cincinnati. It gives a lot of people pride and that’s exactly what the purpose of it was. It was actually more than just a t-shirt it was almost a way thinking. It was an empowerment way of thinking.”

The slogan was meant to inspire the entire state of Ohio. The 2014 Buckeyes, with their unlikely run to the national championship also inspired the entire state. In that moment in the third quarter of the team’s Sugar Bowl win over Alabama the apparel line and the team were aligned on national television for the world to see.

For that instant it was Ohio Against The World and the world was losing.

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