The first X-Large store had opened its doors in November of 1991, just as the finishing touches were being added to Check Your Head. Yet it would months later until the masses would hear about the its existence. Thanks to a mention here and there on MTV News, the word quickly swept across the United States that Mike D was heavily involved with the stylish clothing outlet. From there rumors began to fly stating that X-Large was "owned" by the Beastie Boys. Over the last ten years, that rumor has helped X-Large sell many t-shirts and to this day many fans are still not clear as to just how exactly X-Large and the Beastie Boys are linked.
For starters, the Beastie Boys do not now nor have they have ever owned X-Large. That means that they never owned any of the X-Large Stores nor did they own the X-Large mail order clothing company. However, Michael Diamond of the Beastie Boys continues to be a share-holder and was indeed one of a handful of men who formed the idea for X-Large. Mike Ds role in the X-Large has varied over the years, due to the fact that he has been busy recording, touring, and at one time acting as Grand Royals CEO. In the September 1998 issue of Spin Bob Mack said the following about Diamonds early involvement in X-Large. " thats how X-Large got started. Mike D was the brainstorm behind it not really the money, but the seed. He kept on thinking and the whole Grand Royal concept emerged. Its about them not really being a band, but more like a cultural thing, a way of life."
The very first store was located on Vermont Street in Los Angeles, California. It came about right at a time when skateboarding was coming back into vogue. The store carried a few original X-Large design products, but also stocked old Adidas and Puma sneakers. X-Large brand shirts hung right next to Ben Davis shirts and soon the store had developed a reputation as the best place in town to obtain vintage as well as new gear. The big three Mike D, Eli Bonerz, and Adam Silverman discovered that it was a lot easier and more profitable to sell new X-Large t-shirts than it was to restock ultra rare footwear. In the June 1997 issue of Select magazine Mike D said, "T-shirts (were one of the first things produced) because theyre the easiest to make. The we started to do knock-offs of the stuff we liked, the workwear, but in cotton instead of polyester."
As the popularity of Check Your Head soared in 1992, so did the visibility of X-Large clothing. Mike D was often said to be a walking billboard for the brand, and everytime he was photographed or filmed there was the X-Large gorilla logo. It is kind of subtle, but you can distinctly see it even in the music video for Pass the Mic. A video which again returned to the skateboarding theme, capturing Christian Hosoi riding the G-Son studio ramp. At one point in 1992 it seemed like Mike D would not be caught on camera without an X-Large ballcap or knitcap on his head. Wherever Mike D went, so did X-Large.
Following the long and grueling Check Your Head tour X-Large was on the tips of everyones lips. This was especially true in Tokyo, Japan, where in December of 1992 X-Large opened their second store. The Beastie Boys have always had one of their strongest followings in the land of the rising sun, so X-Large gained instant credibility when rumor again spread that Mike D was involved. People back in New York were beginning to feel left out of the X-Large fashion world, so in 1993 the second store in the United States was opened. A year later, Sonic Youths Kim Gordon joined the family and helped to open a sister store X-Girl.
Before long, stores were popping up all over the place. Some endured the test of time where as others like Concave Daves X-Large Store in Seattle, Washington did not. It was a heart breaking day when northwestern store closed. However no store closing seemed to it as hard as when the Toronto, Ontario X-Large store closed its doors. Here was a place that had provided customers with a Beastie Boys themed décor as well as multiple in store appearances by Grand Royal artists. Many may recall the incredible in-store performance that Money Mark and Buffalo Daughter gave on August 11th, 1998 in the now defunct Toronto store.
1-800-XLARGE1 was the phone number to call in 1996. No longer did people have to venture out of their way to buy clothing from the X-Large stores, now anyone with a credit card and phone could place orders and have the merchandise shipped directly to their door step. It was a good thing that the number was toll free too, because those calls tended to run long as the sales person described over the phone exactly which styles were still available. More often than not, the stock on hand was not at all the same clothing that had been advertised in the X-Large catalogs. Anyone who had written in at one time or another to the Grand Royal address likely was added to the X-Large catalog list. In an era when home computers were not as common they are today, the catalogs were a great way to reach the masses. The catalogs were discontinued in 1997, and the fun times spent talking to X-Large employees on toll free number ended at that point too. It seemed as though the hotline for cool clothing had been severed, and fans across North America were left with emptiness.
There was hope though in mid-1997. The X-Large website, which had formally been housed on the cinenet server, now had its own domain name Xlarge.com . Issue #5 of Grand Royal magazine featured a huge advertisement for X-Larges new webspace. It stated, "Save the trees, use the internet. In an ongoing attempt to preserve our natural resources, X-Large will no longer print our catalogs on paper. So, in order to check out our new gear, please visit our website, which, by the way is new and improved." Beastie Boys fans starving for a new album ended up having to spend their summer earnings on X-Larges fall line instead of on albums and concert tickets. It would not be long though, Hello Nasty was slated for release in 1998 just as X-Large was gearing up for more changes on the website.
In 1999, X-Large celebrated their 8th anniversary by re-releasing many of the most popular t-shirts designs from the companys past. Each of these special edition shirts had the 8th anniversary logo pressed somewhere on the sleeve. The shirts sold surprisingly well, and the good folks at X-Large took note. The powers that be at X-Large decided that in the coming years, all of the previous t-shirt designs would be made available through the online catalog. So if you had a worn out a favorite shirt years ago, a replacement was now available. New styles are continually added each season to X-Larges line-up, but the t-shirt archive remains an integral part of the site.
Now, the question has often been asked what makes X-Large clothing worth buying. For many the trival fact that Mike D is an investor in the company, does not impress them enough to go out of their way to shop at one of the X-Large stores or to buy online. The garments traditionally seem to be long lasting, which accounts for why many previously worn items have turned up for sale on eBay.com . Others look to X-Large as an less expensive alternative to A Bathing Ape (BAPE) clothing. Both brands feature simians in reoccuring design themes. BAPE sticks to Ape and Gorilla screen prints because Nigo, the companys owner, is such a huge Planet of the Apes fan. X-Larges reason for selecting the gorilla was not as apparent. Some speculate that X-Larges gorilla logo was a kind of hybrid between Nigos Ape and the Ben Davis monkey. In the scheme of things, it really does not make much difference the X-Large clothing seems to sell very well despite minimal advertising. It is good to see that X-Large continues on season after season, even though Mike Ds other venture Grand Royal went out of business