I’ve finished my dissertation (!!) so thought I’d celebrate with a few more posts.
Want to know who the next brand I’ve managed to track down for a chat is?
Find out more after the jump
Death Before Dishonour Clothing first caught my attention on Twitter. I was instantly bowled over by the sharp graphics; samurai skulls and swords - what more could you ask for in a design?! I had a quick look on the website and was amazed to find a solid line of 19 tees and 9 sweats. I quickly linked up with bossman behind the brand, Chris, to find out more…
Who/ what is Death Before Dishonour? Death Before Dishonour is a brand that is a long time coming. It is actually the second launching as I ran it several years ago, I was stocked in higher end accounts all over the world then as my agent at the time pushed the price up to £45 for a tee shirt. I sold all over the world and had some great press. I was noted as the most promising brand to watch circa 2003 in Arena magazine. I had a full range then of all garment product areas. I ran it for a couple of years but I eventually went bust due to retailer non-payment.
I have worked in this industry for many years, retail, wholesale and design.
I have so many ideas ready for the cut & sew venture, ideas that I have had for years. When I apply these ideas to the clothing the clothing will literally be branded by design. You will be able to spot a DBD product by subtle design features built into the clothing that are repeated in every product group.
I recently had an agent and factory in Hong Kong that wanted to invest in DBD for shares. He wanted to fund the production of the entire range to make it a strong 200+ range per season. At the time I said possibly yes but have since changed my mind as their distribution and route to market ideas were out of line with my vision for the brand.
Your brand image is strong and striking – where did the samurai with crossed swords come from? Do you consider that design to be your main image or is it flexible? The logo is inspired by The Ghostrider from Marvel comics and Samurai culture, both of which I love. The crossed swords represent the preparation for war. I wanted a logo that would be instantly recognisable and would set the scene for what the entire brand stood for. The logo is in itself the brand mission statement.
What does/ will make your brand stand out and distinguish itself from the rest of the UK streetwear pack? Death Before Dishonour will start to stand out as soon as I have built it up enough support & cash to move into cut & sew. This is my area of expertise, not graphics. I see so many American streetwear brands that produce great artwork on tee shirts but then you get to the rest of the range and the quality and design application just isn’t there. You only have to go to Karmaloop and search in the denim category and it becomes immediately evident that they just don’t have a clue about garment design.
Another difference in Death Before Dishonour is that it is not 100% trend driven. I try to make my prints transcend fashion and I work on areas that for me hold their kudos. I find many things about the fashion industry repugnant, planned obsolescence must be made a thing of the past and we should look to buying garments that are going to look just as good if not better in five years time.
Who/ what influences you in your work? I’m influenced by the things I’m interested in and have a close personal meaning to me. I’ve done many martial arts in my life and I have always been fascinated by all of the paraphernalia that comes with them. I’m also highly influenced by ancient Buddhist & Yogic artwork, the demonic entities fit really well with the brand.
My wife is a great influence on my work too. She is one of the most natural artists I have ever met and has also worked at a head fashion buying role for over a decade. As DBD grows I want her to become part of the team as she has an amazing business brain.
What’s your take on the whole UK streetwear scene at the moment? I think it’s a very exciting time for UK streetwear. Relationships that would’ve taken years are being formed in weeks thanks to social networking.
I think a lot of credit should be given to The Daily Street for the whole UK scene. It was only months ago that I met with Synamatix and heard of his frustrations at the lack of love that UK Streetwear brands were getting from the big bloggers like Hypebeast. He told me his idea of doing a UK specific blog and has taken it from an idea into what now is the word on the UK streets. The Brits have always been a creative influence on the rest of the world. We invented practically every single youth cult there has ever been, Ted, Mod, Punk, right up to Dubstep.
There is definitely a buzz in the UK; as soon as the UK retailers start to back it we’ll see a big explosion of all the UK brands. Just like the current music scene; the UK is where it’s at right now.
Where do you see you and DBD being in 5 years time? In 5 years time I see DBD as a successful streetwear niche brand that has a reputation for outstanding quality and attention to design detail.
Where can people expect to catch your work, any stockists to watch? Currently on my site. You can also find DBD at Junqi in Woodford Green. They also stock Stussy, Zoo York, F&M etc.
I have approached one of the giants in the streetwear market who told me they were interested in 3 or 4 pieces but it would get lost in their store. They have told me to stay in touch with a view to future business once the brand has a bigger selection.
I have also been approached by a high end store that stocks Edwin, Penfield, Pointer etc. They are putting an order together right now.
I have been approached by 2 other retailers that I refused business to because they were wrong for the brand.
I have built up brands in this country in my former career life as a wholesale rep so I know how it works. I am building the brand slowly but surely. There is no rush here. One bad store and the whole thing goes down the drain.
Top 5 favourite albums? I listen to a lot of dubstep & some Grime but my time tested list is below.
Shoutouts - My wife for telling me when it’s just not good enough (“I’m sorry but that snake looks like a fish, keep going”)!
Suzanne, my PR agent at 405 communications, for getting me into WAD and all the other stuff she does for me.
All the boys at The Daily Street - Synamatix, Suffocake & Grizzle for pulling the scene together and helping me to brainstorm brand direction and ideas over coffee.
Mark Jenkins at Fat Seagul for all the kind words he’s ever said about DBD. Soapbox for being a solid fellow artist that runs ideas with me. Alan Wardle from Any Forty for being a kind helpster. Self Gained and Suffoca for being such solid boys! A big shout to Daniel, the rest of the family at F2D Clothing and all of the Dirrrtee family for their support. Gavin Sandhu and Mishoto for their early involvement in spreading the word. Bassment Store for all their support. Steph & the crew from Deerbrains for a blog filled with creative spirit.
All of the DBD customers that have bought into the brand and had the balls to do so without masses of hype. All the Twitter followers that offer massive support with every RT’s.
Every single UK brand out there that is struggling to put the UK on the map. Every single retailer that is taking chances on any of the UK brands.
Chris has been in this game for a long time, and has the ideas and designs to give him the longevity in this industry that few other brands have. His collection is available on his website, head over and take a look and support one of the strongest sleeper brands we’ve got going on!
As is often the case whilst being a student, I’m currently down to my last few pennies before the next loan comes in so as of yet haven’t got a DBD tee to take shots of. When I do have the paper I’m copping this bad boy
An amazing colourway that pops off the shirt, a sick design and all in one very fresh tee for the summer!
Do your bit, and make sure it’s always Death before Dishonour