We recetly sat down with Tony Washington, the creative director behind a cannabis-inspired apparel line with a social message.
Apparel has always been a walking billboard for the cannabis industry, from the most popular cannabis strains to our political views in tie dye shirts and now in 2020… Cannabis inspired apparel, lifestyle brands can be found on the shelves of dispensaries and retail shopping department stores.
I met Tony Washington in 2010, it was an unexpected phone call inquiring how he could support me and more families on the autism spectrum with his apparel brand, Chronic Fatigue- and more than 10 years later…he is back at it.
What is Chronic Fatigue?
Chronic Fatigue Apparel is a 420 (marijuana-inspired) clothing line that originated in Stockton, CA in 2009. It began as an idea of how to connect to casual high-end stoners. The one of a kind swag-wear we created was the fruition of that idea.
The image of the Granddaddy Purp embedded in the word Chronic is my actual cannabis strain. We create high-end t-shirts, hoodies, hats, backpacks, and accessories for your swag needs.
Photos by Te’Aven Roque
What inspired you to create an apparel brand?
At the time, I was working with different medical marijuana dispensaries throughout California as an independent contractor. I wanted to bring something else to the table and offer them additional products so I created The Chronic Fatigue Brand and it took off from there.
I wanted to create the Chronic Fatigue brand for several different reasons. As an entrepreneur, I knew I could create a brand that would connect with consumers. As we researched other cannabis apparel brands, I was encouraged by the lack of creative designs on the market.
Most of the apparel was uninspiring and stereotypical at best. I wanted to create a brand that would speak to the cannabis culture language but in easily digestible, classy way with a catchy look and feel.
There are a lot of medical marijuana patients that suffer from
chronic fatigue syndrome and that was one of the inspirations for the
naming of the apparel line. Starting my clothing company created a
myriad of opportunities for me to meet some very good people in the
The first brand promotion interview I did helped launch the line and was fittingly in Oakland- one of the leading cities for cannabis reform and activism. Our apparel was first featured in WeGrow Hydroponic store in Oakland and coincided with their grand opening as well.
We developed many meaningful relationships from that launch that led
to our apparel being showcased and sold at one of the biggest
dispensaries in the United States, Harborside in Oakland – whose
director, is one of the pioneers in the medical marijuana
movement. From there, we were featured in High Times Magazine and other
media along endorsements from some of the legends in the hip hop
After receiving such a warm welcome from the cannabis community we wanted to give back and show our love for to the medical marijuana patients and culture as a whole. We decided to give proceeds from each T-shirt sold to social nonprofits organizations in the area.
What other brands inspired you to enter the apparel market?
We drew inspiration from authentic urban clothing lines like FUBU and Roca wear. I wanted to create a brand that would speak to a certain community of people and connect with them. That was my goal from the beginning, and it is the mission of the brand.
In the next 5 years, where do you see Chronic Fatigue making an impact? And why?
That is a good question. I am constantly looking forward to the future and rising to the next level in business. In the upcoming years, I see the brand moving more towards creating a broader base through targeted marketing and social media platforms.
We are creating a website that will allow us to blog and get good relevant content to the people. We also recently launched Chronic Fatigue Media, producing live interviews with artists and covering different industry festivals and events.
I am looking forward to working with different artists across all platforms of the music genre and giving back to the communities that embrace us and help uplift the message.
Our goal is to build a brand that will be known for giving back to the community and supporting nonprofit organizations. I guess you can say, we will be a blessing in the business for years to come.