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The new SLO radicals



SLO’s skateboarding and hip-hop cultures began enjoying the Rad Life on Nov. 1.

IT’S GOOD TO BE RAD :  Dillon McKnight shows off his handmade Rad Life apparel. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • IT’S GOOD TO BE RAD : Dillon McKnight shows off his handmade Rad Life apparel.

Located at 940 Chorro St. in San Luis Obispo, the retailer sells a wide variety of urban-themed T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and beanies, all of which were handmade by The Rad Life founder Dillon McKnight. Only a few items aren’t his work—particularly baseball caps advertising such sports teams as the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco Giants, but hip-hoppers have to represent the home team somehow. Other non-McKnight items include jewelry created by local designer Elladolce, who’s previously sold her designs in Arroyo Grande and Santa Barbara County, but never before in San Luis Obispo.

In addition to clothes, the store features paintings by local underground artists like Daniel “Stenzskull” Woerhle (whose stencil-based paintings can be spotted on downtown street corners and controversial polling places), graffiti artist Edge, Lernthings, and Matt Cantrell, who designed both of The Rad Life’s clothing logos. One is an irate polar bear; the other is an eye in a pyramid (don’t worry, The Rad Life has no affiliations with the Illuminati). McKnight has plans to display art by Jeff Claasen in the future.

The influence from famous rappers and hip-hop culture is strong, as among these paintings is a caricature of late East Coast rapper The Notorious B.I.G., and the store’s flat-screen TV is sometimes used for casual showings of hip-hop films like the Jay-Z documentary Reasonable Doubt. Customers can also use the TV to play games on the PlayStation 3 console. Other decorations inside The Rad Life include a metallic sculpture of a medieval knight, and several coffee table books, including a collection of unusual posters from concerts by such musical groups as The Grateful Dead.

Born and raised in SLO County, Dillon McKnight founded his first T-shirt company, Goodie Two Sleeves, in 2002 while working for successful local skateboarding company CCS Mailorder. He sold Goodie Two Sleeves’ designs to Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, and Foot Locker. He decided to open his new business in San Luis Obispo instead of his hometown of Arroyo Grande because SLO has never had an urban apparel store quite like The Rad Life, which prides itself on selling locally handmade clothes. That wholesale model helps The Rad Life financially as the shop doesn’t have to buy items from other companies, making it the antithesis of Urban Outfitters.

“As a local business, we enjoy getting to know our customers,” McKnight said.

Indeed, if you want to chat about the Wu-Tang Clan or Snoop Dogg’s recent reggae recordings under the new moniker Snoop Lion, feel free to come inside The Rad Life and check out the homemade gear.

Call The Rad Life at 543-2432 or visit

Fast facts

Sleeping Tiger Fitness is holding a barbecue with giveaways on Dec. 1 from 1 to 6 p.m. as part of its grand opening. It will also be giving free classes and demonstrations on Primal Move, Women’s Self Defense, Kettlebells, and Krav Maga, a form of Israeli martial arts. Awake your inner animal at 3595 Sueldo St., suite 100, in San Luis Obispo. For more details, visit or call 748-9182. WARNING: Participation may cause strength gains, greater endurance, and the impulse to roar unexpectedly. …

Celebrate the season of giving by attending CASA’s Voices for Children Holiday Celebration Luncheon on Dec. 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Madonna Inn, 100 Madonna Road in San Luis Obispo. The luncheon will feature live entertainment by emcee Dave Hovde of KSBY, a performance by the Central Coast Children’s Choir, a silent auction, and a live auction. For more information, call 541-6542 or e-mail [email protected].

Intern Ben Simon compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your business news to [email protected].

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