Lets face it, as British people we don’t often get to claim very many victories, our sports teams leave us lacking, the weather’s pretty abysmal and don’t even get me started on pop music. That’s why when I stumbled upon Known, a British clothing company with fresh designs and a flare for super clean graphics I mentally chalked one up to ourselves. About to enter their third season Known have consistently bought us premium quality, bespoke fit clothing, reflecting perfectly on the old school hip hop and skater trends whilst maintaining a slick and contemporary style.
If this is your first encounter with Known then you’ve got quite a bit to catch up on. In just a few short years the team have presented collaborations with (one of my personal favourites) the mighty MFDOOM, special artist series t shirts from the likes of Meka, Jeremy “MAD” Madl and UK based illustration collective Long Fox, not to mention working alongside Plan B in support of his charity Each One Teach One.
Due to drop in the next few months is Known’s highly anticipated “High Summer” range featuring a collaboration t shirt with Grime scene veteran D Double E. The collection demonstrates the brand’s flare for bold, up front typography on a range of mainly monochromatic tshirts, long sleeves, sweaters and hats. For me, I would say the stand out piece has to be the “OH MY GOSH” D Double E collab tee as I love the juxtaposition between the big, block letters with the “Bluku Bluku” hand style. To get a better insight, the guys at Known have given us a sneak preview of what we can expect when it’s finally unveiled on June 1st. The look book has a real gritty feel to it, shot in some of London’s finest record shops and barbers, perfectly in keeping with the tone of the collection. The full “High Summer” range will be available from all Known stockists or alternatively, head to knownworldwide.com (and while you’re there, make sure you check the blog for exclusive Known info).
If, like me, you’re a bit of an Air Max addict then you may already be familiar with a few of the faces behind the brand Known. Tucked away in Swindon is every sneaker heads dream, a store called The Forum. Infamous for it’s limited edition kicks it comes as no surprise to learn that The Forum/Known Co-owner Andy has a collection that would make even the toughest crepe collector’s eyes water. We caught up with Andy to get some more info on The Forum, Known and more importantly – the kicks!
Andy, thank you for joining us! For those that may have just discovered Known can you tell us a bit about the history behind your brand and what inspired you to start your own clothing company?
We started the ball rolling about two years ago and we are just about to drop our third season this summer! The brand consists of three people, me & Des who own a street wear store called The Forum and a designer called Rich. We are three like minded individuals and share the same love of street wear! The rest is KNOWN.
I’ve been following you on Instagram for a while now and it’s become apparent that fashion, especially urban/street wear has been a life long interest of yours, can you tell us a bit about your earliest experiences with it?
My earliest memory of street wear is from the early 90s when I skated! Going in skate stores and seeing brands like Stussy, Blind, Airwalk, Alien Workshop, or brands like DC & Girl starting up!! My earliest memory on that tip would be seeing tees at £30 and thinking i’d love to own one! I don’t think of this as fashion, I think of it as being into a scene! Unfortunately in this day and age there are so many subcultures for people to go off on, brands are worn by anyone and everyone! When back then it was a bit easier! Street wear wasn’t worn by everyone, it was worn by skaters, painters, & breakers! Hence the word ‘fashion’ is cast over the whole lot now! I don’t like the word fashion! Ha!
I have to admit one of my favourite pieces from the Known catalogue is your Nation tee with the name of Public Enemy’s second album “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” emblazoned on the front. Would you say early hip hop inspired your sense of style at all? And if so would you say it therefore inspired pieces you’ve put together for Known?
I think 100% it inspired our first ideas of what to put on tees! Without the brand existing you need to relate to your audience, you relate to your audience with what you feel defines you as a collective! Giving nods of respect by using lines from your favourite artists/albums definitely shows what your vibe is i think!
Speaking of hip hop, we noticed that alongside many others, Known has been fully represented by Edward Scissortongue, Jam Baxter and Dirty Dike from the mighty High Focus Records, can you tell us a bit more on how that came about?
A good friend of mine Anis Ali is a photographer for Wordplay Magazine, on our first shoot we both went to London to meet Jam & Scissor! The relationship went from there and the rest is KNOWN.
Whilst perusing through your online store I noticed you’ve recently bought out a Known bucket hat and further more you’ve managed to make it look great! This just goes to show that clean, well designed graphics and well thought out colour ways can transform any item of clothing. Do you have any plans to bring back any other old school garms?
I have a million ideas in my head from the moment I wake up in the morning till the moment I go to bed! Unfortunately horrible words like manufacturing and budget hold me back! But yeah we’ve got some cool things in the pipe line!
While we’re on the subject of old school garms, in hindsight what would you say was your biggest fashion faux pas?
Wearing boot cut jeans!
It was incredibly humbling to see that you guys hooked up with Plan B for a collaboration tee in support of EOTO (Each One Teach One). For those that aren’t familiar, EOTO is a charity set up to provide training and support to young people to ultimately improve their long term quality of life. Can you tell us how you got involved with the cause?
It stemmed from the ‘Make It Known’ branch of the brand, where we work with charities etc! Me and Rich London teamed up with Ed Skrien, and the project just spiralled from there! Sometimes enthusiasm carries a great idea and before we knew it we’d produced 100 tees with all proceeds going to the charity! Working with anyone in the UK is a massive interest of mine, add Plan B and great cause to the mix it was easily the most humbling experience of 2013 for us.
Speaking of collaborations, the team here at In-Reach were particularly excited when we saw the forthcoming “High Summer” Known x D double E collab, can you tell us more about the inspiration for the look book and how the D double E collaboration came about?
The whole collection has an all round 90’s icon feel, plus tapping into Des’ roots and young black culture in the UK! I work with the best PR agency in the world, they have a great feel of what we’re about and are hugely passionate about working with people in the UK! Using them and working with D Double E on the project, doing a collab with him and shooting the campaign in Brixton all flowed and the end result was dope! As the brand grows, so does our identity and vibe! I literally cannot wait for June 1st.
Now if we can briefly touch upon a subject very dear to both our hearts, that’s right, the crepes. I have to admit you’re responsible for probably 99% of my sneaker envy, especially as you were one of the first people I saw repping the new Puma Trinomic XT1’s, would you say they have been your favourite recent pick up?
I love the XT1s, i’m not gonna lie, I picked them in the showroom and I was a bit dubious! When they came in and i tried them on I was all over them! Saying that we’ve just had some Asics in and Saucony are hitting their 3rd season in store! I’m lucky because when I buy for the store I really buy what I wanna bust! Win Win!
Suffice to say, you are the envy of every sneaker head (believe me when I say this guy’s collection consists of nothing but the creme de la creme of AM1’s, all in pristine condition), do you remember your first pair of Air Max and if so, which ones?
Come on, there are far bigger heads out there than me, don’t get me wrong I’m passionate about the silhouette and you’re gonna have to bury me with my kicks! Ha! Sneaks are expensive so I got on Air Max pretty late, I could never afford kicks growing up and my rents definitely didn’t give a shit, as long as they lasted! I grew up in Dunlop 24volt with a gum sole, you could never wear them down! Then I skated till about I was 22, so my rotation didn’t include AM! I think that’s where my weakness comes from now! Anything that can reduce you to a child like state of mind when you rock them, I say fuck it, get them!
My earliest memory was the AM1 Chilis, one of my favourite pairs!
It came as no surprise to me to learn that as well as Known you’re also the Co-owner of The Forum in Swindon. For those that aren’t familiar, how would you best describe the store and can you give us an insight into any up and coming lines or trainers you’re particularly excited about!
We’re celebrating our 12th Birthday this year, we are predominantly a street wear store with some heritage brands! We’ve got a great, loyal team consisting of me & D, Matt, Kay and Andy! We are lucky enough to work with some of the best brands and run our business hands on and taking great pride in customer service and giving it a real good vibe all around!
Brands wise this season sees the return of Alife to the UK! Asics, Clae, Odd Future, Raised By Wolves, INDCSN and Libertine Libertine are a few brands we’ve picked up this year so far!
And lastly, can you give us any inside info on what we can expect from Known in the near future?