After talking to New Jersey’s Twentypence last week, he’s back with another awesome international independent brand…
At FatKidOnFire we’ve been lucky enough to feature brands from all over the world – from our very own little island to the other side of the world. Whilst there’s nothing I love more than coming across a brand knocking out awesome tees from a bedroom in a small village in Yorkshire or wherever, I also find it’s good to keep an eye on the bigger picture and take a look at some of the ‘international’ indie brands. After all, we’re all part of the same scene, and thanks to the internet there’s more reason than ever to get to know some people from different parts of our fine little planet.
So, on that note, we follow on from our US flavour from last time and chat to Vicious History (VH). Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, VH produce some incredibly slick designs based around historical symbolism with a modern twist. They were kind enough to take some time out to answer a few questions, and give you an insight into the running of independent clothing brand…
In your own words, who are Vicious History? Vicious History is an independent clothing company with historically inspired designs. My name is Chaz and I run VH on my own out of Boston, Massachusetts. I am a 24 year old college student trying share my artistic vision and combine my passions of history and fashion. I share my ideas with freelance artists and work together with them to create unique and inventive designs. Lately, our work has been inspired by esoteric history, such as fraternal symbolism and artwork.
Talk me through the decision to start Vicious History… Starting a clothing company is something I had wanted to do for many years now. I was a big t-shirt collector and fan of brands like Johnny Cupcakes, Glamour Kills and Electric Zombie. Just by following these brands and keeping up to date with their everyday happenings, I started to learn more and more about the clothing industry.
I started to hang around online t-shirt and fashion communities and that’s where I really began to make a serious go at creating my own company. The t-shirt and independent clothing company industry is very saturated at the moment with brands around every corner. I began brainstorming themes and ideas to base my brand around that would be different than what was currently out there. I had always been a huge history buff who enjoyed studying anything to do with the 18th and 19th centuries. We’ve been working with various artists to put a fresh spin in historical design and have been growing ever since.
Whats behind your designs, in terms of inspiration? Where do you start? As I said before, all of our designs have some sort of historical meaning or symbolism behind them. Some are obvious, like our Napoleon Bonaparte t-shirt, and some take a bit of explaining, like our Cemetery Bell design.
I find the inspiration for our designs in all different types of online and print media. I spend every morning looking through some of my favorite tumblrs and blogs to find inspiration. I have an inspiration and ideas folder that consists of thousands of images ranging from 17th century paintings to traditional-style tattoos.
To make our designs as unique as possible, I am constantly searching for historical inspiration in unconventional sources that may not be as readily available as other online sources. I search through antique books for illustrations and spend a lot of time going through image and art archives at libraries. The internet is a great place to find inspiration for design, but many older artistic works and information are still only available through tangible sources.
How have you found running an independent brand? Any stand-out moments so far? Running an independent brand is an extremely difficult yet rewarding endeavor.
In order to be successful, you must keep at it every single day and stay active. I think now, many people start independent brands for the wrong reasons, whether they want to gain online popularity or make money. Starting a brand with these intentions almost never works out. Making money with an independent brand is a very difficult thing to do, especially at the beginning.
I launched Vicious History in early 2010 and still haven’t given myself a single payday. Everything I make goes directly back into the company. The companies that become successful are the ones that were started for the right reasons. If this is your passion, customers will notice that and have respect for the blood, sweat, and tears that you’ve put into your brand.
My first stand-out moment that really hit me was our first international sale. I couldn’t believe that I was sending out a t-shirt to someone across the globe. The fact that there are people wearing Vicious History in places like China, Australia and the United Kingdom is something that still blows me away. Being featured on a well respected and popular blog is always an honour that I’ll never get tired of.
The streetwear scene is huge in America these days – what does (or will) set Vicious History apart? The thing that sets Vicious History apart from other American clothing companies is our historical niche and commitment to quality. In order to be a successful company, you have to offer a unique product, especially in such a highly saturated market. There are other historically influenced brands out there, so we spend a lot of time doing research and developing unique design ideas that fit within our bold, graphic style. Our main goal is to share our artistic vision with our customers by offering them a high quality product that they can’t find anywhere else.
We spend a lot of time making sure that we put out an affordable product that doesn’t skimp on quality. As a t-shirt collector, nothing upsets me more than receiving a shirt that doesn’t meet up to your desired expectations. We pride ourselves in putting out a 100% American made product that stands out against our competitors. It is extremely important to us that our shirts feel great, fit great, and showcase a vibrant print that won’t peel off or fade away. Those are the ways in which we try to set ourselves apart in the American street wear and independent scenes.
As previously mentioned, the US scene is huge (and is a big deal over here in the UK too). What’s your take on the UK scene as an outsider? Can our brands compete on the same scale, and maybe make waves over there? We have been lucky enough to make some greats friends with brands and retailers over in the UK. The fashion scene there is very forward thinking and we take a lot of inspiration from it.
It is difficult to establish your brand in another country, especially when there are so many great brands over there. Being featured on UK blogs and magazines such as FRONT has definitely helped us gain popularity over there. We have worked with UK-based artists Craig Robson and Drew Millward and that has also helped out quite a bit. Overall we are big fans of the UK fashion scene and hope to make our mark there with help from some great retailers in the near future.
In the words of my old school teachers, where do you see yourself in 5 years time? I would definitely like to see Vicious History turn into a full time job in 5 years time. Any independent brand owner can tell you that their brand is their life and to work on it full time is an absolute dream. I have aspirations to start other independent fashion companies and finish school in hopes to do some work at a creative director. Even with those future endeavors on my radar, the growth of Vicious History will always be the main goal. It takes an extremely large amount of hard work and dedication but I am confident that we will get there. You just have to make sure you don’t lose sight of the philosophy behind your brand and what got you there in the first place.
Top 5 favorite songs/albums/current playlist? Currently in no particular order:
- Pierce The Veil – Collide With The Sky
- Memphis May Fire –Challenger
- A Loss For Words – Returning To Webster Lake
- Foreign Tongues – Self Titled EP
- The Starting Line – Say It Like You Mean It
Any shoutouts? Just want to say thanks to the guys at FatKidOnFire for this opportunity. Also a huge thank you to everyone who has supported Vicious History from the start.
Chaz has clearly worked damn hard to make this brand work on his own, and he’s also clearly very passionate about what he does – something that’s pretty much a requirement to surviving, let alone suceeding. Vicious History are a brand we’ve had our eye on for a while, and hope that we’ve opened up a few more eyes to the brand. If you wanna grab yourself a piece of history (yeah, alright…I’m allowed one bad pun per article though right?!) then hit up their website, see what inspires them via their Tumblr, follow their thoughts on Twitter or just give them a good old fashioned ‘Like’ on Facebook.
[All photos by Katlyn O’Hara]
And if you’re a brand looking for exposure, why not drop Chris an email?