With the arrival of Swallows & Daggers on to our brand roster here at Urban Industry, we reckon we're rounding out a pretty successful year for independent brands. We were instantly taken with their tattoo-influenced designs when brand owners Cian and Chris came down to see us here in Eastbourne a few months ago. We reckon S&D are a breath of fresh air from the usual recycled streetwear trends we are inundated with. Cian was kind enough to sit down and take a few minutes to answer our questions:
1. Can you give us a short history of Swallows & Daggers?
S&D began back in 2009 as a tattoo blog. Basically we showcased a
tattooer a day and people seemed to enjoy it so as we grew in hits we
released a print magazine also tattoo focused and shortly after that
started doing collab tees with various tattooers before gradually
growing into a streetwear brand and using a variety of artists both
graphic and tattoo to put together our visuals.
2. What inspires your designs? Who are your influences?
I really like old signage and tattoo designs. Any craft with a strong
tradition and history to it is of interest to me. We take a lot of
inspiration from the script styles used on old buildings and old tattoo
flash. Influences sign painting wise I love Sean Barton’s work and tattoo
wise there's too many to name but I normally go straight to the source
Bert Grimm, Sailor Jerry, Owen Jensen. We do tend to work with artists
(Clark Orr, Zach Shuta) who have strong noticeable styles so that
regardless of the concept you see their influence within it.
3. Best/worst thing about running your own brand?
Best thing would be the freedom it offers me and getting to be my own
boss. Worst thing would be when everything goes wrong at once which
happens on average once a week.
4. What do you make of the UK and Irish streetwear scene?
I think people like to complain about it a lot and that most of those
doing so contribute very little to it. There are the obvious negatives,
the reliance on US cultural references as opposed to our own and more
then a few brands that just straight rip off the major US brands whilst
whoring themselves off to the most corporate of accounts but there are
also a lot of strong brands and great people involved. It's definitely
the strongest scene in Europe. Brands like Indcsn, Palace etc are making
huge strides internationally into scenes and stores which never had a
British presence. I think other UK brands like ourselves, AONO, Too Much
Posse, Enclave, Grind, Any40 etc are doing our own thing and holding it
down for the next wave. It's nice to see scenes like the Welsh one which
really supports it's own and brands like Who killing it down there.
Irish streetwear unfortunately isn't in doing all that well. There are
Irish people doing big things but mostly outside of Ireland like
ourselves and FucknFilthy but the Blind Tiger collective is definitely
trying to build awareness and I see some signs of hope in the likes of
Dog Eat Dog clothing and Project A apparel and shops like Counter
Propaganda supporting local brands, something which Irish shops have not
done to date.
5. Future plans for Swallows & Daggers?
We definitely want to grow as much as possible as a brand. We plan to
start doing headwear as well as cut & sew and spreading ourselves
globally. We've got some big plans for the next drop, early next year
and some possible collaborations in the works too