1. Right, so here we are with Chapter 1 of the new Versus Volumes. Can you explain to us the new way you will release AnyForty product in the future?
Basically, I got bored of only releasing product twice a year – Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. I know for a fact my customers got bored of waiting so long for new stuff too. So after testing the water out with a few random, mid-season launches like the Tom Mac Pride & Predator twin pack and the Hospital Records collaboration, I realised that my fans were desperate for more stuff, more often. So I came up with the idea of a yearly Volume. Split up into quarterly chapters, it gives AnyForty folk 4 drops a year instead of 2 and stops me getting bored, everyone wins! The beauty of dropping these chapters more regularly means I can really cater to the time of the year, so this first chapter has gone hard on the t-shirt front as we're still in late Summer with 2 crewnecks for those colder Autumn nights when the sun drops early. The next collection that drops end of November will be all crew necks & hoodies… with a few added extras.
2. How was it assembling your crack team of artists for this collection? With contributions ranging from all over the UK to Australia and America, is it hard to get everybody together and hitting the same deadlines?
You know what, it's getting easier now. Back when I was in the first few years of running AnyForty, all the artist collaborations I did were with artists who were friends of mine or people I’d worked with in my previous job as Art Director of a now defunct British graphic design magazine. I'd try to contact guys I didn't know, but wanted to work with and they'd simply not get back to me. Now I’ve built up 5 years and over 70 artist collaborations, I have a more solid background to hit up new artists I admire and 9 times out 10, because I’ve got history and a great back catalogue of worldwide artist collabs behind me, they're super willing to work with me. Which I’m stoked about! It unlocks a whole world of potential new collaborations to me! Oh, in regards to hitting deadlines, nowadays with the internet/social media, all that jazz, it's just as easy to work with and keep in touch with someone in a different country as it is my mate Tom 5 minutes up the road. Love it!
3. You recently ran a pop-up shop in Boxpark Shoreditch for a couple of months. How would you describe the experience? Are you happy to tick the box and say you’ve done it, or would you like to open a permanent AnyForty retail space in the future?
The Boxpark experience was great! Going out to work 7 days a week is stressful, but it was well worth it. It was amazing to meet regular customers who've been buying online face to face for the first time, as well as being able to sell the story behind my brand to people who'd never seen it before and then seeing them becoming new regulars was absolutely incredible. I built a whole new fan base from the shop alone. Stuff like that kept me going day in day out, but I’m not gonna lie; retail is a bloody hard game. It gave me a whole new level of respect for guys like you who run hugely successful stores. Retail game is tough, real tough! I'm happy to tick the box and say I've done it for now, but one day, you never know. If I get to the position where I’m lucky enough to be able afford to employ some staff to help me run a store, then it would be certainly something that would appeal to me!
4. Any particular pieces you’re happiest with from this new collection? Or is that like asking a parent to pick their favourite child?
Ha, I love all my kids equally, but I do have a soft spot for the new Greg Mike child of mine. Since seeing him collaborate with my pal Benny from San Francisco last summer, I became a big fan instantly, so I was over the moon to have him on board this chapter. He really went in on his new graphic for us too!
5. You’ve run AnyForty for well over 5 years now and have no doubt seen a lot of things come and go in UK streetwear. Do you have any advice or pointers for young brands out there?
I reckon the main advice I have, and something I’ve only just learnt about a month ago, is don't get too concerned about what others are doing and just concentrate on what you're doing. Simple as! It's no secret, if you follow me on social media, that after 5 1/2 years I’m still only working on my brand part time, doing freelance design work on the side to keep that extortionate London rent paid, that I’m more desperate than ever to run my brand full time. I've found myself recently looking at similar UK ran brands and wondering how the hell they are doing it full time, or how do they afford to go to a trade show internationally, or how've they got in a certain stockist. It takes a lot of energy thinking about what other people are doing, so I had to tell myself to stop. And that has made me a hell of a lot happier and more relaxed!