"I've always loved art and fashion," explains Randall Pointer, co-owner and head of design at Identical Variant.  "It was just a  matter of time before the two ideas fused in my mind.  The day they did is the day I decided that I wanted to design clothes."  So in December 2007, the now 21-year-old Flint native went into business with his friend Big O, and Identical Variant was born.

The name Identical Variant is a play on the idea of  "same difference."  Pointer says,  "I know most people have heard, 'All men are created equal,' which is true, unless acted on by another force.  Meaning, we all have two arms, two legs, et cetera.  However, men strive to be individuals."  So with the help of a thesaurus, "same difference" became Identical Variant.

IV carries hip-hop inspired t-shirts, tank tops, and polo shirts for men and women.  Expressions like "I'm dope get over it" and "The freshest dressed has arrived" are emblazoned on the tees.  One popular design, now sold out, played on the phrase "Jockin' my fresh" and showed a horse labeled "my fresh," with someone on top labeled "you." 

The line's four designers are constantly coming up with new designs and ideas, but they hold off on releasing them so as to not overwhelm people or themselves.  "Right now I'm more focused on building the company than raking the profits," explains Pointer.  "IV is a full time thing, but I still have to support myself in other ways."

Along with Pointer, Big O, and the four designers, IV also has two marketing promoters and six models/street team members.

In addition to getting the word out and growing the company, one challenge IV faces is expanding into other areas. "There aren't many clothing lines that transcend genres too easy.  Like I don't see hip-hop artists in Hollister brand no more than I see KORN in Rocawear."  While Pointer would like to expand the line, he doesn't know if it would all fit under the IV brand.  "If I did do something with clothes that wasn't hip-hop inspired, I can't say exactly that it would be under Identical Variant.  It could though ... could prove to be an interesting challenge."

For now, Pointer has modest goals.  "I hope what any business owner hopes: To become successful without losing sight of the happy things in life."

Identical Variant clothing can be purchased online at and at DSE@Grand in Detroit.  The line will be carried at other stores soon, and there are also plans to release a mixtape of Michigan artists.

© Gina Myers, 2009