Street culture has undoubtedly become one of the biggest influences in our modern developing society. Add the music, art & clothing that come along with it and you get a world where no rules apply but yet still remain orderly & effective in their own right. The whole world is in it and we are all connected through it. How you relate or translate street culture is purely up to you, your own definition of freedom. And with that said, we at HYPE had an exclusive interview with Tim Hoad, who is the well-known owner of the prominent/popular London street wear label King Apparel, which included discussions on how King Apparel started out, what type of challenges were faced and his thoughts on the comparisons between street fashion & high-end fashion. King Apparel has been leading the UK street wear scene for a while now and is truly a veteran in the game.
When & how did King Apparel come about?
We started in 2003. Established by myself and current business partner & friend Paul Linton. I was snowboarding professionally and had been developing clothing for my sponsors and Paul had been graphic designing. We came together to form a brand that represented all that was good about the UK & street wear subculture that only existed at the time on the underground scene.
What kind of challenges did you face throughout the building process of creating the brand?
Dude I could write an essay on this kind of stuff! No money/cash flow problems/no social life/ people not paying /sketchy suppliers/trying to find an investor when we sold a ton of stuff but couldn’t afford to make it. Lots of issues but the key thing is that when you have unwavering faith & determination to make your thing work, you find a way to overcome these obstacles. It’s a learning process and still is today. I’m never satisfied with where we are at and the challenges & haters are always a motivation.
The brand has been worn by well-known artists & prominent individuals. Are there certain people that help push King Apparel in terms of marketing purposes?
There are yes, and they are always chosen by us or seem to pick it up of their own accord. The UK artists such as PLAN B and Wretch 32 are obvious names but more recently the likes of Drake and Swizz Beatz have been wearing it without our input so we must be doing something right.
With so many well-known established brands made available on a global scale, what would you say sets King Apparel apart from the rest?
We’ve been around 11 years; we were pretty much at the forefront of street wear as we know it, not only in the UK but globally. We blew up the use of 5950 new eras outside sports licenses, we were the first people to bring Starter black label hats outside of the US and with that legacy and history we have our own place to stand toe to toe with the big US boys – Crooks, TheHundreds, 10 deep etc. We stand today as the only UK brand on a level with what comes out of the US.
The perceptions of street fashion brands seem to convey the street fashion scene as inferior when compared to the high-end fashion industry. What are your views on this thought and do you think street brands can finally be compared to high-end fashion brands on equal terms?
I think that high fashion has borrowed ideas and inspiration from street wear for years. It’s just that they have a commercial and mainstream platform of exposure so it seems like they are the innovators…that’s not strictly true. More recently, street wear brands have borrowed from high fashion – which is kinda lazy and clever at the same time. So now I think there is a lot of crossover and the leaders in both fields recognize and respect one another’s inputs and creativity. They are totally different but at the same time so similar. It’s an interesting time for street wear because I think street wear per se has lost its direction & identity due to the amount of rubbish being produced. The truly top notch brands are digging into their design and construction expertise to move into a more contemporary field, and I think this is where things are going.
What would you say keeps a brand relevant?
Moving with trends but keeping your roots & identity. You cannot substitute quality either. It’s timeless.
What kind of threads does King Apparel create?
Our lines represent an evolved and clean aesthetic – contemporary cut and sew fashion, whilst still retaining a firm footing in our street wear roots.
According to you, what is the “must have” King Apparel piece?
This season the commute rain mac. Cut and sewn at its best with performance and sports influence.
What more can we expect from Kind Apparel for the rest of 2014 and how can the rest of the world get some of your threads?
Check out the website dude – this is the best way to see what we are doing. Plus you can buy all of our stuff and we ship anywhere in the world too – http://www.king-apparel.com