Making T-shirts for friends from his UMW residence hall, Todd Curran ’06 built skills that would help him start a company that now is poised to become the premier outfitter for ultimate teams in the United States and beyond.
Curran’s Savage Apparel Co., founded in 2009, recently announced its merger with apparel maker Five Ultimate and disc manufacturer ARIA Discs to create XII Brands, of which Curran is CEO.
“Our goal is to be the No. 1 apparel provider in the sport of ultimate,” said Curran, who played on UMW’s ultimate disc team as a student.
The company also provides custom gear to teams in other sports, including soccer, spikeball, quidditch, dodgeball, and disc golf.
The Savage Apparel team includes four other UMW alumni. Daniel Curran ’09, Todd’s brother,
is vice president of production; Dan Lee ’06 is vice president of sales; and Austin Bartenstein ’11 heads international sales from an office in London. Todd’s wife, Erica Jackson Curran ’07, is director of marketing.
From a production facility in Richmond, Savage makes its jerseys on-site, from assembly to printing. “That is something that sets us apart from many other apparel providers,” Todd Curran said.
Savage’s new Greenline apparel uses a proprietary fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. A medium-sized jersey gives 17 plastic bottles a new life, and all materials are sourced from within 200 miles of the company’s headquarters.
Daniel Curran studied environmental science at UMW. He credits Michael Bass, now professor emeritus of biology and life science, with equipping him with the knowledge to pursue this and other eco-friendly measures at the company, including an initiative he’s working on to recycle fabric scraps into new material.
All of these innovations are the latest steps in a learning process that began in high school for the Curran brothers. They used iron-on letters from craft stores to make shirts for Todd’s band Omnicab. The band was short-lived, but Todd Curran was still making Omnicab shirts when he arrived at UMW his first year.
“I definitely have memories of [Todd] longboarding around campus in his Omnicab shirts,” Lee said.
Todd taught himself to screen print his junior year by watching a VHS tape from his UMW apartment on William Street. The shirts became popular and the business was featured in a 2005 story in The Bullet student newspaper (now The Blue & Gray Press).
The shirt business played a role in Daniel Curran’s decision to come to UMW.
“I sent a personal note to the admissions office about how I was already part of the UMW community, with The Bullet article attached,” he said. “I’m not sure if the letter helped my chances of getting in, but later that year, I was a UMW student.”
Both Curran brothers said playing on the UMW ultimate team was a big part of their college experience. Bartenstein also played for the team; Dan Lee played rugby.
Omnicab fizzled after Todd graduated, but years later, he was in the middle of a job search when he found his old screen-printing press and started making shirts again. In 2009, within a year of taking the business full time, he was hiring employees and expanding into rental space.
Lee reconnected with Curran in 2016 when he was searching for uniforms for his recreational soccer team. Soon after he learned about the company, he was leading the sales team.
With connections to most of the professional ultimate world, the team members have come a long way since their UMW days.
But, Daniel Curran said, all that success can be traced back to fun memories of playing ultimate on Ball Circle.
– Emily Freehling