Garry Gallimore is the Owner and Founder of TrenchLife Apparel. Growing up in Ottawa, Garry loved playing basketball. He spent time at Bell High School before switching to Woodroffe High, where he played ball competitively for the Ottawa Phoenix. Under coach Adrienne Coddette, Gallimore saw his game take off. He went on to play basketball at StFX University and won defensive player of the year there, twice.
Garry represented the Canadian National Team twice, and played professional basketball in Belgium and Romania. During these years, Gallimore fought to stay competitive in basketball, and that fight was his lifestyle. It was a concept he knew that other athletes related to, and one that Gallimore was inspired by. He started TrenchLife Apparel shortly after.
He started small, by selling basketball shorts out of his trunk. Today, his brother, Dallas Cowboy Neville Gallimore, is proudly the poster boy for the brand, and a big influence on the creative direction. The brand focuses mainly on lifestyle apparel, and hopes to resonate not just with athletes, but with anyone putting in the work to follow their dreams.
We caught up with Garry to talk about his basketball career, starting TrenchLife Apparel, and working alongside his brother to take their company to the next level.
Photography by Sean Sisk
How did you get into basketball?
Basketball was something I did as a pastime growing up. In grade 10, I moved from Bell High School to Woodroffe. One of my teachers, Adrienne Coddette, was also a basketball coach. She saw something in me. She encouraged me to try out for her competitive club team, Ottawa Phoenix, and I ended up playing all through high school.
Why did you decide to attend StFX University?
When it was time for me to look for a school, I had already made a name for myself across Ontario. Steve Konchalski, the StFX basketball coach came to check me out. I liked the history behind their program. He was also well-known in the basketball world, so I knew that he could help me reach my goals in the sport. I went to visit, liked what he was offering, and the rest is history.
At StFX, you won defensive player of the year two times. What made you such a great defender?
Like most people that pick up a basketball, you want to be the guy who scores points. Those are the guys that get all the attention. I thought I was that guy, until I went to try out for the Canadian junior team. Everybody was talented, super athletic, and had a lot of offensive attributes that made them outstanding. I knew the only way I was going to make the team, was to do something different. I wanted to make that team so bad that I locked in. I’d always match up against the top guys and made sure that they couldn’t score on me. That added to the notoriety of me being a tough competitor. I’m super competitive and don’t like being scored on, so rather than be a passive defender, I became aggressive. I was usually attacking people, keeping them on their heels, as opposed to being on mine.
You earned the opportunity to represent the Canadian National team, winning a pair of bronze medals. How special was that for you?
Initially, when I first got on the national team, I made it as a walk-on. Some friends of mine were trying out and asked me to tag along. When I got there I realized the opportunities that lay ahead. I dialled in. I did everything I possibly could to make sure I made that team. There’s nothing better than traveling across the world, competing against other teams in places you’ve only heard of or read about.
Representing Canada was very special. Having your name on the back of a jersey and your country on the front elevates your passion. That was a very special moment for me.
You went from pro basketball in Europe to starting a clothing line. Where did the idea for TrenchLife Apparel come from?
My first season playing overseas was in Liege, Belgium. It wasn’t my best go-around, and I realized a lot of weaknesses I had as a player. It was very disappointing, and I ended up taking some time off for personal reasons. When I was ready to start playing again, I met a guy in Ottawa who was from Romania. He was a big deal in the basketball community and was looking for players to go over there. I went there to prove to myself that I was still capable of playing. That was when the idea for TrenchLife came together for me. Because I had been out of the game for so long, I had to work twice as hard. Everything I did was about being in the trenches. About putting the work in so I could live my dreams. That mindset kept me motivated, and following that season I started thinking about how I could motivate or inspire other people. Being an athlete who loves clothes and shoes, I thought of a clothing line. Something that represents that same mindset, so that others could say ‘this speaks to me. This represents me.’
How did you first start selling your merchandise?
I started by selling basketball shorts because I was playing at the time. I was selling them out of the trunk of my car and the response was good, a lot of people bought in. I continued to put out t-shirts and some sweatshirts. In 2016, I figured it was a good time to try and expand. I wanted to be more accessible, so we started our website.
You brought up being into clothes and fashion. Was that something that was on your mind when you were playing?
Absolutely. I can only speak to basketball players, but when you look at certain guys on the court, it’s a fashion statement. There’s that long-standing saying: “Look good, feel good, play good,” and that’s all about self-confidence. How you present yourself influences and affects your performance. That’s something we’re continuously thinking about in terms of how we design stuff. When someone puts on our clothing, I want them to be like, this is me.
Who are some of the more stylish athletes in your mind?
I’ll start with my brother, Neville. He’s very stylish and decisive about what he puts on. Neville’s a very fashionable, good-looking guy that knows how to put a wardrobe together and carries himself well.
LeBron James is also very well-dressed. You can tell he takes care of himself. He’s not too eccentric. Russell Westbrook is a little more eccentric, but he’s the poster boy. Fashion is very artistic, creative, and imaginative. That’s what you see when you look at Westbrook. He could wear a safety vest with no shirt and bell-bottoms, and the media will eat it up because he’s established himself as a fashionista. It’s extreme, but he can get away with it, because he has the personality to match it.
Also, Christiano Ronaldo. He presents himself as a picture of perfection with his perfectly fitted suits, and his hair is always perfect.
You brought up your brother Neville, who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. How much has he helped you with TrenchLife?
He’s been the most crucial component. I haven’t been playing basketball since 2014. When I started I became the full support for it because it was the brand under the life I was living. When I stopped playing, he became the poster boy, because he plays on the defensive line. That’s his job to be in the trenches. Having the platform that he does, we had to work together to figure out how to incorporate this into his lifestyle. I gave him a lot of creative control and work off his lead. He tells me what he wants and how to do it because he wears it. He’s around a lot of legendary guys, whether he’s playing with or against them. It gives us the ability to expand and be visible on the level that we desire to reach.
When you look at life, everybody has their version of the trenches. It’s the desire or passion to put the work in to be able to live whatever life you dream of living. Whether you’re a doctor, lawyer, athlete, or parent, we all have end goals and don’t get to them unless we put the work in.
How often do you talk with Neville about new ideas?
I always ask him: “What are the guys around you wearing? What do they think? What works for them?” It’s important, because we live in a life where everything is pretty much influenced by influencers. Those guys are automatically influential in what people do in their lives. How they dress, what they wear, and what they represent. On Sunday’s when you’re watching them on TV, you’re not just watching the game or how many touchdowns they score. You watch them walk into the stadium, and how people respond to them on social media… and that’s important information. That’s why I gave him creative control. He tells me: “This is what we’re doing right now, this is what’s in style.” Since speaking to Neville, we’ve had a lot more success. Fashion’s something that’s always changing, in sports or casual, so it’s good to have someone with the inside scoop.
Where do you see TrenchLife Apparel going in the next couple of years?
My goal is to make it as big as you possibly can. With Neville in the picture, if he keeps growing and doing great things, I think the sky’s the limit. We’d like to grow into a company that provides both lifestyle and performance clothing. I’m not going to say we’ll be the biggest company in the world, but, we want to establish ourselves to be a brand that people think about when they buy clothing.
What kind of clothing do you have right now? And where do you hope to go?
Right now, we’re looking at providing more lifestyle pieces. Sweats, hoodies, baseball caps, and toques. Especially because it’s the winter for most parts of North America. We’re looking at providing warmer clothing that people can just slip on, and at the same time look good. In the summertime, t-shirts and different style of stuff, not just plain cotton stuff. We try to play with different materials, combinations, styles of print, and colours. We’re trying to bring things out that people will gravitate to.