Wilmer Valderrama Launches a Unisex Activewear Line Called E.P.U.


Wilmer Valderrama, the 44-year-old actor best known for roles such as Fez in the sitcom “That ‘70s Show” and Special Agent Nicholas Torres on the drama series “NCIS,” has immersed himself into the activewear business.

The actor, entrepreneur, activist and fitness enthusiast has introduced a new active lifestyle brand for women and men called E.P.U., which stands for E Pluribus Unum, which is Latin for “out of many, one.”

“I Iove the fashion industry and it’s something that I really have been paying attention to, and have been so fascinated by the people who create fashion,” Valderrama said in a telephone interview Friday.

Activewear looks from E.P.U.

Some activewear looks from E.P.U.

Courtesy of E.P.U.

The collection features unisex T-shirts, tanks, crew neck sweaters, sweatpants and sweatshirts, along with men’s and women’s hoodies and joggers and women’s crop T-shirts and tanks.

An E.P.U. hoodie

An E.P.U. hoodie.

Tony Byrd, courtesy of E.P.U.

Sizes range from XS to 2XL, with prices going from $25 to $75. The garments are crafted from 100 percent French terry cotton. The socks, duffel, unisex T-shirt, unisex, tanks, and women’s crop T-shirt are all made in the U.S., while the rest is made in Vietnam and India.

E.P.U. has forged a direct partnership with the USO (United Service Organizations) with a portion of sales benefiting their mission of strengthening the well-being of service members and their families. Valderrama, who is a global ambassador for USO, has been on more than 45 USO tours around the world and his time with the troops inspired him to give back to the men and women who serve to protect the country — and the people they leave at home.

A hoodie and jogger from E.P.U.

A hoodie and jogger from E.P.U.

Valderrama said he’s no stranger to the fashion industry. About 10 years ago he was involved in a casual brand for two years called Calavena, which sold in stores such as Saks, Kitson and Barneys. The brand no longer exists.

This time he decided to get into active sportswear for several reasons. First, he realized early on in his career that fitness was something that “not only helped the mental strengthening of the ups and downs of the industry,” but allowed him to look ahead to what roles I wanted to play next. “From Fez and having to transform into a person who could play a cop, it’s part of the transforming process,” he said.

In that journey, he created the hashtag #MyHouraDay, where he would do something active and share it on social media. His followers around the globe started giving their own answers such as “Going for a run,” or “Going for a Swim.”

Further, Valderrama has been inspired by athletes such as cross trainer Mat Fraser and snowboarder and skateboarder Shaun White, who are friends of his. “We’re always talking about mental strengthening, and when you’re out there trying to be number one, what is that mentality?” Valderrama said.

As a global ambassador to USO, Valderrama will bring friends along, talk to the troops and design and host big stage performances with comedians, musicians and DJs. “I’ve been to almost every base around the world. I’ve been to Iraq, Afghanistan, [South] Korea, Germany, Lithuania, you name it, I’ve been at that base,” he said. He began realizing the commonality of the military and what he loves so much.

“Part of their every day is how much they prioritize fitness. Fitness was an extension of their daily routines,” he said. He said he made it part of what he does professionally. “My workouts weren’t negotiable, they weren’t hobbies. [At] 4:30 in the morning, I get up and I’m going to the gym, and then I go to work. It’s part of my workflow. That mentality started creating this mental strengthening that I was not expecting. I always had the bug to go back to fashion. And all of a sudden, I was like, ‘What if?’”

He believed that he could take everything he learned from traveling the world with the military, and the inspiration from his athlete friends to create a brand that infused that kind of community for mental strengthening. Inspired by retro fashion from the 1950s and 1960s and Double RL hoodies and sweatpants, he felt he could create a brand that looked cool and functioned well. They designed the looks to be worn to the gym for a boxing workout or cross-fit training, as well as great travel outfits and clothes that can slip off easily for the pool.

Since today’s generation likes to discover brands on their own, he is selling E.P.U. through an online store, epuhq.com, as well as Instagram and Facebook.

One of his main objectives is to build a community. By donating part of the proceeds to USO, he’d like to be part of building USO Centers around the world and creating programs for veterans and their families. He pointed out that USO is a nonprofit and not government-supported, so it relies on donations.

“This is very much a passion project of mine, and I want to be as bold as possible in supporting these programs. And then the big thing is we build mental strengthening facilities,” he said.

Valderrama, who owns his Los Angeles-based company 100 percent, said he’d eventually like to launch accessories, socks, gloves to work out in, shoes, water-resistant products, weighted-vests and his own equipment.

Asked how he finds the time to run this business, while pursuing an acting career, he said, “There’s always time. If you have something in front of you that’s a priority, the schedule somehow molds into a place that you also have time for it. I have literally daily calls on this. We have photo shoots.…We have tons of community-building content around this,” he said.

“It’s a big undertaking, when they say cut, I start making calls,” Valderrama said. So far, he’s working with eight or nine full-time people in digital, social media and distribution.

Men's and women's activewear look from E.P.U.

Men’s and women’s activewear looks from E.P. U.

Courtesy of E.P.U.

Valderrama declined to divulge how much volume he anticipates he’ll do in the first year. “We’re hoping that we sell out very quickly and go right into the next phase. The internal testing that we’ve done has been received incredibly. People love how simple it is,” he said. He anticipates the tracksuits will be a bestseller.

The collection’s color palette is the official colors of the different branches of the military such as red and yellow for the U.S. Marines, green for the U.S. Army and blue for the U.S. Air Force.

Valderamma said he never got a chance to serve in any of these military branches since he got his first big break in TV when he was 18 years old.

He recalled that he became interested in USO years ago when he was walking through an airport and two members of the military came up to him and asked to speak to him. They said that after a long day of doing what they do, they trade “That ‘70s Show” DVDs like they’re baseball cards. “’And we laugh. It really helps and thank you,’” they told him. Valderrama immediately called his agent and said he’d like to show up at their bases. “In two seconds, they sent me out on a USO tour,” he said.

For the collection, he worked with “a design guru who helped scramble what was in his head,” and his fiancée, Amanda Pacheco, who was their fit model and gave suggestions on the women’s fit. To promote the brand, he plans community workouts to show who’s supporting the brand and what the brand is physically doing in real time.

Jogger, sweatshirt, shorts and T-shirt from E.P.U.

Jogger, sweatshirt, shorts and T-shirt from E.P.U.

Curtesy of E.P.U.

Valderrama was born in Miami but grew up in Venezuela until the age of 13 or 14, when his family moved back to the U.S. and settled in Los Angeles. His father is Venezuelan and his mother is Colombian.

Next week, he will start taping the 22nd season of “NCIS,” which averages 6.5 million to 7 million viewers live every Monday night on Paramount+ and has about 12 million to 13 million viewers overall every week, he said. Valderrama’s next project is a “Zorro” adaptation for Disney, which is in development and he stars and serves as executive producer.

The actor has also written his first book, a memoir entitled “An American Story: Everyone’s Invited,” (HarperCollins) which will be published Sept. 17. “The memoir is a tribute to my family by bringing me to the U.S., and showing me the road and allowing me to walk it. I was able to take the American dream and make it something that belonged to my life,” he said. When he came to the U.S. at around 14 years old, he didn’t know how to speak English. “And by the age of 18, I’m booking ‘That ‘70s Show.’”

An E.P.U. tank.

An E.P.U. tank.

Tony Byrd, courtesy of E.P.U.



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