Merrell x Unlikely Hikers Celebrate Fred Griffin’s Selection to Memphis’ 20 Under 30 List

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photo by Brandon Dill

Every year, the Memphis Flyer asks our readers to tell us all about the outstanding young people who are doing their best to make the Bluff City a better place. This time, we had a record number of nominees, and narrowing it down to just 20 was more difficult than ever. Speaking to an immensely talented 20 never fails to fill us with hope, and allows us to introduce Memphis to the leaders who will be shaping our future.

Memphis Flyer | 20 < 30 – arch sneaker videos

I’ve long discussed how Merrell is not a mainstream brand with various demographics. While The North Face. Stone Island and Timberland have crossed over into the Gorpcore and Streetwear arenas, Merrell has maintained its presence in hiking and the outdoors without compromising and chasing cool. I never expected the brand to take the time to acknowledge a little-known streetwear brand and designer from my small corner of the South. I reviewed the Unlikely Hikers x Merrell collab on my YouTube. While I love the boots and they’ve entered my sneaker rotation heavy as the weather in Memphis has been unpredictable and my family is still getting out on the some of the trails in the city, I didn’t expect to run across this content on Instagram of one of my favorite startup brands here in the city Swish. Swish was founded by Fred Griffin. Fred is the kind of guy who has generated some amazing events here in the city. From his Sneak and Link event (where attendees customize sneakers while mingling) to his recent blowout New Year’s Eve event, Fred is always in the mix and repping Memphis in everything he does. A few years ago, he created a Breast Cancer awareness apparel collection and the shorts featuring a throwback Memphis State logo with pink instead of the traditional blue, grey and white, went viral. I had a chance to walk the court at a Memphis Grizzlies game because Fred was working as a marketing intern with the team.

Merrell caught wind that Fred was selected as one of Memphis’ top 20 under 30 and dropped him off a pair of the Unlikely Hikers boots. Fred took a moment to share the boots on his reels on Instagram, you can see that below or click through and follow Fred on IG. It’s an interesting delivery, but it definitely falls in line with what Merrell does. Merrell tends to place a value on people, not on hype. While Fred does incredible events and has a dope clothing line (SWISH | SWISH. (, the most important event he’s hosted was for Cummings Elementary School in Memphis. Fred took proceeds from his Sneak and Link event and T-Mobile matched the funds. The partnership bought the students and teachers new supplies after storm damage caved the ceiling in on the parts of the school. Is this a move for Merrell to begin working with streetwear brands in the future? It could be and it would be an interesting thing for the brand to do, but that’s yet to be seen. For now, shout out Merrell for showing love to one of Memphis’ dope young creators.


Fred Griffin
Fashion Designer, Founder of Swish

Have you seen those pink U of M Tigers shorts? Those were Griffin’s idea. “I started making apparel in middle school,” he says. “Anything that I do, I always try to have meaning behind. My mother and my father are really both big into community work. We’ve always done things with breast cancer awareness.”

Griffin designed and made a limited edition of the now-iconic streetwear in 2020 through his brand Swish. “I shot a commercial and put it on Instagram, and I couldn’t turn my phone off because the reaction was crazy. And that was in the middle of a pandemic! I love the fact that the people of Memphis appreciated it enough to where they still talk about it. People still love them, people still wear them.”

Griffin has parlayed his success with Swish into jobs with Nike and the Memphis Grizzlies. “Fashion is really tough because there’s so many people doing it,” he says. “I still keep at it because I’ve been doing it for so long, and I have such a passion for it. The ideas that pop in my brain and the concepts I come up with are able to stand alone by themselves.”


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