C28 Clothing: A Look Back at the Brand Behind NOTW
Fifteen years of production, and a lifetime of impact. From 2000 to 2015, Not of This World, or NOTW, was at the top of the Christian apparel world. As a part of the C28 brand, their mission was to equip and edify saints around the world and to share the message of the gospel of Christ through Christian clothing.
C28 stands for Colossians 2:8.
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ”Colossians 2:8
Founder of C28
Founder and CEO of C28 and NOTW Aurelio F. Barreto III always believed in this mission and turned his entire life around to dedicate himself to what Jesus called him to do.
Mr. Barreto has truly lived the American dream. As a child, he came to the United States from Cuba as a refugee.
Barreto promised himself as a child that he would never fall into those circumstances of poverty again and dedicated himself to earning money to guarantee financial stability and independence.
By the age of 37, Barreto had achieved the fame and fortune he had desired as a child. His Dogloo company sold for millions of dollars, and he had over 20 million in the bank.
For a time he enjoyed the freedom to go and do whatever he wanted, lengthy vacations to New Zealand and Hawaii with his family, driving whatever car he wanted, specifically a Porsche Turbo, and wearing the fanciest designer clothes. In the midst of all of this, he felt an emptiness he could not explain.
Depression set in and feelings of despair and worthlessness overcame him.
Turning Point for Aurelio Barreto
One day in 1998, after paying his children’s school tuition, their principal cornered Barreto and asked him to come visit his office and chat for a while. Although dreading the possibility that the conversation would be about God, Barreto agreed and the conversation that ensued was the most important of his life.
Barreto shares, “He
Barreto's life changed that day, and he never looked back. He found a way to channel his newfound faith with his acquired business acumen to develop groundbreaking new businesses that had an eternal focus. He noticed that although there was Christian apparel in the market, the styles were limited.
He believed that apparel could be used more effectively to uplift and encourage believers as well as share the life-changing message of the gospel. Not only did he create unique clothing, but an entire community was developed around the production of the clothing.
When speaking of his life before and after conversion and the founding of his Christian apparel company, Aurelio says he was longing for something more.
"What I was longing forAurelio Barreto
was to be part of something."
C28 Graphic Designers
C28 created hundreds of t-shirt designs over the years. They employed in-house designers. But to build a large inventory of truly unique designs, they would need a large number of artisans.
CanvasThreads.com was where graphic designers submitted their designs to a community of members who had voting privileges. Community members then voted on shirt designs and the most popular were printed by C28. C28 would pay royalties to designers, as well as create custom tags (artist spotlight) with the designer's name on them for each of their designs that were printed.
Canvas Threads was where I met one of C28's designers Knoll Gilbert. Gilbert designed several tees for one of my small brands, and we have remained friends since. Some of those designs can be seen here.
The C28 & NOTW Brand
The clothing was available in-store and online. C28 opened several brick & mortar stores in malls across the U.S. The online experience included a vast range of designs in a trendy eCommerce store. The eCommerce website included a prayer community where thousands were prayed for.
The uniqueness of the NOTW message came from how they combined the message of Christ with untraditional, raw designs. The color schemes, images, and words used appealed to a much younger audience than had previously been targeted.
Customers who liked Christian rap and hard rock groups finally had a clothing option that expressed their values, and as soon as more traditional Christian stores started carrying the shirts, their sales reflected the appreciation this younger audience felt for finally being seen and understood.
The designs were so popular that many Christian bands would often wear the tees on stage during performances. Professional athletes were pictured wearing the NOTW shirts while out and about.
Scripture and Art Combined
Popular shirt designs were typically script and beautiful, bold art. One of the favorite bold designs stated the verse in Matthew 5 that says, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and the image was of a white dove flying out of the barrel of a gun.
Most shirts incorporated a bible verse, Christian song lyric, or bold message in the design to convey the message. The NOTW logo itself was symbolic, with the N and W both reminiscent of angel wings, the O looking like a halo and the T dominated the image, but was lower case and resembled a cross.
Shirts included verses on them or were inspired by Bible verses, even if the design was not overt. In-store employees share that one shirt, in particular, led to several conversations about salvation. The design said, “Many ways lead to Jesus, one way leads to God”, and the verse on the shirt was John 14:6.
Barreto sold the company in 2015 after leading the brand to grow into fourteen franchised C28 stores, with 130 employees, 425,000 online members, and over 2,000 brands distribution stores.
Although C28 closed its doors in 2015, the NOTW line was bought by the Mardel Christian bookstore. Mardel still carries a smaller inventory of the NOTW clothing line on its site at Mardel.com.
A Word from Aurelio
I recently spoke to Aurelio and asked him to share something about his time at C28. Here's what he had to say, "Working at C28 and Not Of This World was clearly the height of my career. It was an honor to work with such an incredibly talented team. In particular, the art that was produced was extremely effective in reaching the lost and edifying the saints."
Aurelio continued, "During the 15 years of operation, over 19,000 prayed to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior, millions of prayers were heard, and millions of tracks were distributed. I am eternally grateful to the Lord for allowing us to work at C28 and NOTW. To God be all the glory!"
Today Aurelio Barreto has been CEO & President of several great startups over the years. He now resides in the Corona, California area.
316Tees & Inspiration from C28
316Tees.com has created many of our designs with inspiration from Aurelio's team and C28. We regularly work with 2 of C28's former designers and will always remember and appreciate what C28 was all about.
Visit 316Tees.com and follow us closely as we continue to add great new designs in the coming weeks and months!
Bryan E. Robinson is the owner and founder of 316Tees. He has over 15 years as a marketing consultant and has worked with Capital One, AmeriCommerce, FSG, and other companies over the years. Bryan has also built multiple eCommerce brands over the years and is passionate about helping others to achieve their own successes with eCommerce startups.