Clothing company Sic970 spreads positive messages about unity

Erica Grasmick

The word “sick” has a couple of different definitions.

Sometimes, as an excuse to skip class Monday after a particularly crazy weekend, we say we’re sick because we don’t want to sit through a lecture. Often, especially near the end of the semester, we use sick as a way to communicate how fed up we are with the endless exams, papers and assignments we’re drowning under.

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But, for the hip and happening youth of today, it is often used to say something is awesome and cool. For William Bell, this connotation of the word describes the whole mission of his clothing company, Sic970.

“Being yourself, whatever that means to you, embracing your differences and others … to me, that’s sick,” Bell said.

William Bell's socially conscious brand Sic 970 on display
(Photo: Cisco Mora)

Bell is the founder and owner of the company Sic970, a casual wear line that started in 2008 out of Fort Collins. The company was inspired by Bell’s passion for people and his desire to spark meaningful conversations about social justice issues such as racial and gender equality.

All the designs for Sic970 shirts and hats are designed by Bell himself.

“I focus on current issues, and have studied the evolution of the United States,” Bell said. “I’ve looked at the history of oppression in this country, and then I put a positive spin on it to make people aware of issues and start conversations about them.”

One of Bell’s most popular designs is the focus of Sic970’s “One Mic” series. These T-shirts show a fist in the air, symbolizing Bell’s argument that each and every person, no matter what color their skin or sexual identification, should have a voice and use it to speak up about important issues.

Sic970 also features designs meant to spark conversations about racism, female empowerment and world peace.

“There’s a design with an upside down, backwards R,” Bell said. “It’s meant to grab people’s attention. If they ask, ‘Why is that R backwards?’ it starts a conversation about racism and also represents what a backwards way of thinking it is.”

What makes Sic970 so unique is that it is a one-man operation, according to Bell. For the most part, Bell talks with people about his vision and shows them his designs one-on-one so they can understand his passion.

Sic970 merchandise is also available in local eatery The Colorado Room.

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“(William) is awesome,” said Danny Shea, one of the owners of the restaurant. “We sell his shirts and hats here. They sell really well, and people really like them and what they stand for, so we always have a display of them here at the front of the place.”

William Bell's socially conscious brand SIC 970 on display at Moby Arena Friday afternoon.
William Bell’s socially conscious brand SIC 970 on display at Moby Arena Friday afternoon. (Photo: Cisco Mora)

Although Sic970 is based in Colorado, the brand has reached out all over the country and even internationally. Nick Smith, or “Mr. Smith,” the founder of Voltron Independent Productions, supports Bell.

“Will is a great guy, and I think his brand reflects his personality,” Smith said. “To me, it’s about promoting togetherness by showing that you’re proud of where you come from. Colorado is a very confident state, and Sic970 is a great representation of what we’re all about.”

Though Bell appreciates the praise and attention he has received for his work, he says Sic970 is not about him. It’s about spreading positive messages.

“Racism is miscommunication,” Bell said. “We are all equal. We all need the same basic things to survive in this world – love, shelter, belonging. We have to come together and see both sides of an issue. If we learn to communicate and listen to one another, despite our own personal beliefs, we can solve so much.”

Collegian Arts and Entertainment Reporter Erica Grasmick can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter at @E_Graz.