Retreat x FatKidOnFire - Interview #47

Retreat x FatKidOnFire

Interview #47

After a fairly low-key weekend away from the city, it’s back to the madness of central London and time for another FatKidOnFire feature. Today sees us talking to a brand who have recently celebrated their fifth birthday – something worth shouting about seeing the current economic situation that the independent brands (and everyone else for that matter) are facing. If you like seriously high quality tees printed with environmentally friendly water-based inks, all printed in limited numbers, then this brand is for you…

Find out more after the jump

<p >Retreat first appeared in 2005. They cater for all tastes – removing the need to try and pigeonhole the brand. Retreat like to keep it fresh and this definitely shows in their product line; which consists of tees, sweats and headwear. Unless you’re a keen Retreat collector you’ll probably find it hard to cop their threads, each limited design usually sells out fast which is testament to their solid designs and their equally strong fanbase. We sat down with Paul, one of Retreat’s founders, to find out more… <p >Who or what is Retreat? Retreat was formed back in 2005. It’s basically a home-grown passion project created and run by myself. A way of escape from my 9-5 and to release designs which I felt would look good on tees and what my friends and I would want to wear.  The bottom line with Retreat is creating quality designs that look good on tees which I like, rather than making them with a view of commercial success. <p >Your designs are strong and striking – do they have an underlying theme or do you consider these designs to be your main brand image? You’ve dropped more than tees, also selling snapbacks and crews. Is this something you will continue? Well I see a lot of brands out there, some well established – but releasing really weak designs. They have probably paid for their mortgages out of this game and have all the major stars wearing their brand. What they forget is paying attention to their designs is what initially got them there in the first place – a strong graphical design printed onto a 6oz piece of ring spun cotton. <p >With Retreat there possibly is a theme although it’s totally by accident. I’ve never deliberately planned anything like that. The idea of putting a themed collection together isn’t what I set out to do. I think random designs works better. <p >The trucker caps and beanies were done a while ago. I did consider going down the whole cut and sew road but for now I think we’ll stick with strong tee designs. <p >What does or will make your brand stand out and distinguish itself from the rest of the UK streetwear pack? First of all I’m not keen on Retreat being labeled Streetwear. I’ve never really understood or felt comfortable around the placing the word “street” in front of something whether it be clothing or art. <p >Art is Art at the end of the day. It’s either good or bad. Our main focus is to create solid designs that cater for all markets and not just the manufactured ones which have been aligned to a specific scene. <p >What sets us apart is our attention to detail. We focus on the quality of designs from tees we choose to the print itself. We like to experiment and mainly use water-based inks on light coloured shirts and discharge ink for dark garments. Discharge ink bleaches the dye out the tees replacing the natural raw fibers with the ink- so you have a super soft print. If your printed tees feel like a blob of rubber stuck to your chest, then you clearly aren’t wearing a Retreat tee  <p >Who or what influences you in your work? I draw inspiration from graffiti, graphic design, photography and music. I’m also influenced by all of creation and everyday life. <p >I have respect for all the great artists throughout the years such as Durer, Gustave Dore, Lorenzo Petrantoni, Warhol, Basquiat, Vaughn Bode and Ben Drury to name a few. <p >I was fortunate last year to have been granted exclusive permission by Mark Bode to rework one of his father’s existing pieces. This put Retreat up there with brands such as Puma and A Bathing Ape to have collaborated with The Bode Estate. That design was released in a run of 30 (no re-prints). <p > <p >What’s your take on the UK streetwear scene at the moment? It’s something I have little time to focus on to be honest. I don’t feel there are many UK brands out there that are truly releasing stuff for the passion. They are merely just wanting their 5 minutes of fame. Pushing their brands onto whichever artist is in the top 10. Good luck to them all though but it’s never what I set out to be about. <p >Saying that, I have considered going along to the next X factor auditions with a bag full of tees just to give away. Surely that will get my brand in Heat magazine. Haha! <p >The only brands I really follow out of the UK are Will Bankhead’s brands Answer and The Trilogy Tapes and Suburban Bliss which sadly is no more. <p >Where do you see you and Retreat being in 5 years time? Hopefully still releasing limited designs and to have worked with even more artists I admire. A decent 10 year anniversary release. <p >We have upcoming exclusive designs coming out featuring art work from US singer/songwriter/artist Daniel Johnston – a living legend who has influenced the likes of Kurt Cobain and also a design from UK Designer Ed Gill who has designed for UK brands Park Walk and Answer. <p >Where can people expect to catch your work, any UK stockists to watch? Currently our designs are only sold exclusively on the Retreat online store. We did have international stockists/distributors a few years back but we put a hold on all accounts for the time being. Not enough hours in the day to be doing this part time! <p >Top 5 favourite albums? Not in any order. This is tricky and isn’t definite, but off the top of my head:

  1. Beastie Boys – Check Your Head
  2. Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy – Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury
  3. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
  4. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
  5. Raekwon the Chef – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx

<p > <p >Shoutouts All my friends and family – my wife Vic, Molly, Charlie and little Jonah. <p >My mates Andy K, Ritchie, Spangles (CTE) Johnny Macca (DOOF), Monsi. <p >All artists, musicians and DJs out there actually doing it for the right reasons. <p >My printers Gerv from Mission Print in the UK and Will from BStreetHill in LA.<p >

Retreat are another example of a fantastic independent fashion brand we have here in the UK. Surviving a year, let alone five, in the independent market is a huge success and everyone at Retreat deserves a huge big up for all their hard work! If you’ve liked what you’ve heard from Paul, hit up their webstore and cop a Retreat piece before they sell out. The Retreat blog is definitely worth a look in too – lots of creative inspiration going on there! Find Retreat on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date on what the brand’s getting up to.

If you have any thoughts on what Paul has had to say, or thoughts on anything else you’ve read let us know either via the comments section below or through one of the other forms of contact (emailTwitter and Facebook).