And now for something completely different
Forgive me, I’ve always been a sucker for Monty Python and their delightfully British sense of humour! Let me explain – the reason behind the silly video and the [Special] Interview is because here at FatKidOnFire HQ I’m celebrating 700 views and the blog’s 10th post (you have to make the most of the small things). To celebrate and to share the party with you guys (without you there’d be no blog to continue writing so I have to thank you all!) I’ve decided to do something a bit different and cast the FatKidOnFire net a bit father afield.
All the way to Longview, Texas, USA.
Find out more after the jump
I first saw Loyal K.N.G. after they started following me on Twitter (at least I think that’s where I first found them!). I took a look at their pretty in-depth and professional website, and then had a look at their extensive webstore and was extremely impressed with what they had going on. Fresh designs, and I mean really fresh designs in various colourways. Dope! I linked up with the guys behind the brand and found out more…
Who/ what is Loyal K.N.G.? Loyal K.N.G. is a brand that represents a lifestyle and promotion of culture and knowledge. Loyal in definition means “to be supportive of a cause,” while K.N.G. is an acronym that stands for “Knowledge Never Goes.” So, the meaning behind Loyal K.N.G. is: to be supportive of knowledge that never goes. The phrase “knowledge never goes,” comes from the fact that as we experience trouble, tragedy, and general down time, the “knowledge” we gained throughout our lives will continually push us through to achieve our dreams and aspirations. So, regardless of passing age or troubling times, no one can take away your knowledge. Loyal K.N.G. also contains a double entendre of meaning in that it also represents “Loyal King”. To me a true king is the leader of his country on basis of his knowledge, since a knowledgeable king is a powerful king.
As for me, I’m just a biology major college student that’s unsatisfied with the college world. The brand is the perfect outlet for me to gather all our talents in photography, filmography, arts, designs, networking, marketing, having fun, and just changing the path of our own lives. However, the biggest gamble is to risk it all for something that can either go big or fail big. I’m just in it for the long haul, for better or for worse, just enjoying the journey.
Your tee designs are strong and striking; using cartoon-type graphics and occasionally a cheeky take on the A Bathing Ape name. Do you consider these designs to be your main image or is the brand image flexible? Our running themes and ideology behind our designs are always in some way connected back to our core message in promoting knowledge. As for the cartoon style, it’s just what I wanted to create in terms of designs. As our line grows and progress, the styles and designs will change whichever way I feel is best to fit my ideas and tastes. I’m a big kid at heart, and these cartoons were what I grew up with that ultimately played a role in influencing my life in different ways, big and small. One of the big ideas behind our brand, Loyal K.N.G., was that “Culture IS Knowledge.”
Culture is what we watch in the media, hear on the radio, read in magazines and books, it is the key that connects us all together. So, through our designs we wanted to promote the very culture that made us. As for the designs we have out in our previous season, I do not consider them our main image but rather characters within the story of Loyal K.N.G. But, we do have an official mascot/logo, which can be found in the back of each t-shirts from our spring 2010 season line. As far as the flexibility of the brand, I would say that it is very much open to any design styles as long as the designs support our core message. I spend sleepless nights scheming ideas and creating a story in each design that can resonate deeply for the loyal supporters of our brand. The mixture of colorful cartoonish graphics capture the audience’s attention, but the message is most important, and it’s all about digging into the history of the brand to learn and understand our story and message.
What does/ will make your brand stand out and distinguish itself from the rest of the US/ worldwide streetwear pack? I believe that we are building a unique path with our brand in promoting “knowledge” as our main ideals. I strive to create fresh designs that can immediately be recognized as our own. Since I am the core designer of the brand, all the designs will be in my control as to how they will appear in the final production. At the end of the day, I design for myself. I make clothing that I would want to wear, and in turn I hope that our supporters will fall in love with our brand as I have had building it. What also makes our brand distinguished from others is that each of the designs we release will have a story that resonate within the brand’s core ideology. I will never release a design just because it looks cool or that it’ll sell well with the crowd if there is no story behind it. I pride in creating designs that have deep meaning and streamline our core message to the true supporters.
My goal with the brand is that everything we do is connected to the brand’s lifestyle. We promote all aspects of culture, from hip-hop (and other genres of music), dancing, art, photography, editorial, to filmography. Everything that goes into this brand from customized bags, stickers, and to the small details we add to each of our shirts’ designs, are all building blocks to separate us from other brands who are in the game for the wrong reasons. Just the fact that we work harder to bring more for the supporters of our brand will help us stand out from the crowd. There are more projects that I am working on for the future of our brand that will be fun additions for the supporters. I believe that a brand owner who makes sacrifices in their life and pour all their resources, soul, and love into their brand will be the ones to leave a mark in the over-saturated streetwear game.
Who/ what influences you in your work? Wow, everything influences my work. It would make sense since the big message in our brand is “Culture Is Knowledge.” It is culture that ultimately influences Loyal K.N.G. I am influenced by Spider-man comic books, by 90’s cartoons, Japanese culture, and of course streetwear-culture itself. The lists of influences are endless, but I will attempt to list some current people or brands that I follow who have raised the bar in the game. These are the folks that define quality and workmanship to me. If I’m not progressing into this level of standards, then it’s better to leave the game and stop wasting time. Off the top, I am influenced by local Texas brands such as Fur Face Boy and Unkommon Kolor. I don’t necessarily look into their brands for graphic influence, but more toward workmanship ideals and standards. These guys are some of the hardest working upcoming brands in the south. The west and east coasts have theirs’ but the aforementioned brands will be the leaders of streetwear in the south, and Loyal K.N.G. will be there with them. A few artists I follow that have influenced me are artists, such as Ron English, David Choe, Shephard Fairey, and KAWS. In particular, I want to give a big shout out to Ron English, who I actually met during our trip to Austin for the SXSW 2010 event. He was very down-to-Earth and openly interested in our clothing line, I was awestruck and proud to have his interest. To be able to converse with a living legend is such an inspiration and gave us a much needed motivational push. I am also influenced by The Hundreds, Johnny Cupcakes, and Mishka. These major brands are no doubt the new leaders in the streetwear game and are literally changing the game and setting trends all over the world. It’s hard to deny their influences for any brand owner. As usual it is their work-ethics and brand direction that influence our brand more than anything.
<p >What’s your take on the whole UK streetwear scene at the moment? How does it compare what the US has got going on? I don’t think I can adequately answer this question since I only know a few European brands like the French Six Pack France and Stereo Panda Paris. Going by these two companies, I think they have a strong enough image and brand direction to compete very well with the US streetwear scene. I don’t believe that being a brand owner in the UK or the US will necessarily depict a lack of brand quality in one or the other. I believe it is in the creators’ hand of the brand to determine the quality of the products they come out with. In my opinion, good branding, good direction, and a strong message will be quite adequate for ANY brand to follow and be capable of competing in the streetwear market. If the brand is walking on a trail untraveled and stays focus and dedicated, they will no doubt make a mark in the game. It’s inevitable, I believe.
Where do you see you and Loyal K.N.G. being in 5 years time? In 5 years, I want to honestly see Loyal K.N.G. exist and doing things that I have all planned out in my mind. I hope to bring Loyal K.N.G. into the fitted cap, denim, and full cut-and-sew lines. I also have plans to go into publications and delve more into documenting the street-culture in Texas as it grows and develop in the following years. If we can gain a growing support base in 5 years, which would be all that I could ask for. I hope only the best for our brand, and I understand that it’s up to our crew and me to take it there. Also I hope that we can meet new friends along the journey of our brand. Ultimately, I want Loyal K.N.G. to support itself and the people who have a hand in its development. It’s my only way out of college life, which I dread.
Where can people expect to catch your work, any UK stockists to watch? At the moment, we are only working with selected stores who we have kept in close contact with, but I would love to bring Loyal K.N.G. to the UK scene one of these days. I guess it’s merely finding the right store that meshes well with our brand, and are dedicated to working with us closely on how to showcase our line. However, UK supporters can always make a purchase of our line at our online store. I have shipped a few shirts out to the UK already, so it’s not a big issue.
Top 5 favourite albums? I have such a dynamic and constantly changing taste in music that the answer to this question is due to change very often, but I do have a few albums I have on rotation that I’m never tired of. At the moment, I would say my top 5 most listened to albums would be:
(In no particular order)
- Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon
- Daft Punk – Discovery
- Jay-Z – American Gangster
- NERD – Seeing Sounds
- Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus
Shoutouts God for blessing me, my mom & dad, my brothers, my homies @ Reel180 Production camp, Tony Ricky & Brandon Vu, Mauricio & Nisay Lopez, Myke Hill, Fur Face Boy, Unkommon Kolor, Fab5, Ron English, and all the supporters out there! Oh and BIG shout outs to my man, Wil of FatKidOnFire [me again!]. Y’all already know!
So there you have it. The first International interview and one of the most in depth we’ve had so far. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read head over to the Loyal K.N.G. website and show these guys some love!