Shawne Merriman has carried the nickname “Lights Out” through a storied football career that started at a Prince George’s County high school, took him to the University of Maryland College Park and ultimately made him a three-time Pro Bowler in the NFL. So it should come as no surprise that Merriman has used the name for his latest venture, an apparel collection sold nationally in DTLR stores.
“Lights Out is so much bigger than one person,” the 32-year-old said. “It has so much of a bigger meaning. Lights Out is a performance. Lights Out is what people strive to be. It’s the way I played on the field. This is why the company was created.”
Lights Out offers men’s and women’s performance tees as well as other active gear. The brand, which has pieces ranging in price from $15 to $88, is sold online as well as in DTLR (Downtown Locker Room) locations, including those in the Baltimore area.
The brand will release apparel every month that will allow customers to match garments to the latest sneaker and shoe offerings, according to Merriman.
The company is based in San Diego and Los Angeles — Merriman travels between both cities while doing sports commentary for the newly relocated Los Angeles Raiders.
“We’re in the process of shifting everything from a San Diego base to L.A.,” he said.
Merchandise is made throughout the world, he said, and Lights Out has a staff of 13 people.
“I think we’ll be growing pretty fast,” he said. “I believe in steady growth and to perfect what you have. We really want to make this thing solid before we grow too fast.”
Merriman spoke with The Baltimore Sun this week about the launch of Lights Out.
Why did you launch an athletic apparel line?
When I’m not having to do one of the broadcasting shows, I’m always in suits. I’m always dressed up. When I’m not, the first thing I try to do is wear jeans and a T-shirt. It’s just my everyday lifestyle. What I really wanted to target is what people do this every day. They put on a T-shirt. I wanted to make something that would fit in everyday lives.
What is your design process?
I want the Lights Out shirts to match whatever new sneakers are dropping. Because that’s how I grew up. Your T-shirt had to match your sneakers. You switched your jeans or whatever pants or shorts you were wearing. But that was the outfit. You had to have that every single day of the week. That’s why about 35 to 40 different styles of shirts and colorways and two-tones and split T’s are across the board. We want you to have the Lights Out shirt for whatever sneakers you’re looking for.
Where do you want to take this line?
As far as it can possibly go. I was excited to launch it there with DTLR and those areas [in Maryland]. Growing up, for us Downtown Locker Room was what you wanted to wear the first day back at school. And now to be able to partner and sell clothes there, at Downtown Locker Room, for me is just like, “Man, does it get any better?”
How involved are you with designing each piece?
I approve everything that comes out. I’m one of the ones that is very hands-on with everything. I have a passion for this. Throughout my playing career, which made me the player I was, was having a passion to go out and be the best. One day when you stop being an athlete, you stop getting the opportunity to compete on the field. What else do you put your passion into? We want to make the best designed, cool T-shirts out there. And so far we’ve been able to do it. I just can’t stop there. I love trying to learn the new technique or fabric that’s out that people really enjoy wearing. And always stay ahead of the curve. I want to keep making stuff that’s out-the-box and cool. And someone could see you walking across the street and say, “Man, that’s a Lights Out T-shirt.” That’s the point we want to get to one day.