Student’s designs grab focus

Sophomore Charlie Zielinski displays a T-shirt from his clothing line, Focus.  The line features old-school style,  bright  colors and retro designs.By Kaitlin MacRae

Over time, style and fashion often become synonymous with sports. Sophomore Charlie Zielinski is bringing the focus to extreme sports with his growing clothing line.

Focus Clothing is the brainchild of Zielinski, an environmental science major, and his high school friend, Joe Wahler, who started the business as a way to bring recognition to the relatively unknown sport of body boarding.

“We’d always been going to the beach,” Zielinski said. “We surf and body board and we wanted to give something back to the sport. Body boarding [is] a really [unknown] sport, so we wanted to make it bigger and bring something to it.”

Armed with a powerful philosophy — “Size and strength are critical, but only with the benefit of direction and focus. That’s how you make it happen. We are what we are” — the boys behind Focus hope to make a name for themselves not only in body boarding but other sports as well.

With its shorter, lightweight foam boards, body boarding is considered to be an early predecessor of surfing, another sport Focus Clothing wants to break into.

“Right now we’re really trying to expand it,” Zielinski said. “We’re just trying to get into the skating community and the surfing community.”

With hopes of expanding nationally and possibly overseas, Zielinski and Wahler already have their clothing sold in several New Jersey stores, including Barewires in Sea Bright and Little Surf Shop in Long Branch.

The latest store to carry Focus’s clothes is Decked, a skate shop in Princeton.

The company embraces a flair for old-school styles, drawing inspiration from the 1980s while showcasing its own influence in original designs.

It features retro-styled screen prints of Jeff Spicoli, the beloved chronic stoner in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, as well as American icon Marilyn Monroe emblazoned on neon-colored apparel.

“A lot of our stuff goes back to old-school bright colors and designs,” Zielinski said. “We try to bring back the ’80s punk scene.”

He also adds that while they’re currently working on simple designs, “like screen prints for T-shirts and hoodies,” they hope to eventually move on to more ambitious projects, such as jeans and polo shirts.

Although Focus Clothing is still a local business, it continues to grow, even offering sponsorships to athletes.

“It’s starting to get bigger,” Zielinski said. “Right now we’re starting to get a body boarding team together. We have kids from New Jersey and New York and we actually have a kid from New Zealand who we’re going to sponsor. I [also] just got in contact with a skateboarder [from New York]; I think we’re going to sponsor him, too.”

In August, Focus helped sponsor the Body Boarding For A Cause competition in Seaside Heights. Proceeds from the event went to various charities like The American Red Cross and the Surfrider Foundation, which focuses on protecting the world’s oceans and beaches.

“In the future, we just want to be known in skating, surfing, snowboarding and body boarding,” Zielinski said. “We’re hoping to get into more competitions… we just want to keep moving up with this. Basically, with focus and direction, you can do anything.”

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