Yellowdog x FatKidOnFire - Interview #93

Yellowdog x FatKidOnFire

Interview #93

It’s been a bit quiet here on FatKidOnFire over the past week – in more ways than one. I blew my left eardrum out last Tuesday, on a slowdown after somewhat of a mental weekend and have had a chest infection since last Saturday. But, you’ll be pleased to hear,  the antibiotics have kicked in; the chest infection seems to have gone on its way and I’m back in front of the computer.

Which means, tonight, I can finally get around to publishing the next two features I’ve got in the queue. One brand feature and a new MakeItGood x FKOF feature (and mix) later tonight…

A while back, I interviewed a young streetwear brand called Shaka Clothing. A few days after publishing it, one of the three brothers who run the yellowdog brand got in touch to say how impressed he was with the interview – and FKOF’s concept as a whole. I’d not heard of yellowdog so got chatting to Dom, and the more we talked the more intrigued I became. Three guys, a labradoodle, a passion for t-shirts, a screen printing press and a shed combine to form yellowdog, one of the most unique and exciting DIY brands I’ve discovered in ages…

Who and what is yellowdog? Yellowdog is a clothing brand that focuses on the concept of simplicity using bold shapes and clean lines. We 3 brothers; Chris, Alex and Dom, all have a passion for design and between us we probably own about 10,000 t-shirts. We tend to be slightly obsessed with our work so controlling every aspect of our production is very important to us.

My impression is that the independent clothing market seems to be blowing up in the UK. How have you found running yellowdog with such a small team? The independent clothing market is definitely booming – which does make you extremely busy trying to keep up and you definitely have to keep bringing something new and fresh. Even though we’ve just started we’ve got plenty of ideas in the pipeline ready and waiting.

The team is just us 3, and for the immediate future we want to keep it that way. Part of what makes us special is that we are 3 brothers doing something we love; we all have similar views on what yellowdog is and where we want it to go, we also bring a range of different skills to the table making what we hope will be a perfect combination. Throw in a hearty meal and plenty of tea mid-print session and that usually gets the creative ideas bouncing of each other.

What lead you to starting out on your own? It all started a few years back with the purchase of cheap inkjet printer and a simple heat press to make some extra cash by printing stag-do t-shirts as well as our own personalised t-shirts. We worked out of Chris’ loft (which in the summer time was an actual oven) and we began getting better at what we did and started throwing around the idea of creating our own brand. After quite a bit of research, we realised that it was entirely possible for us to do it, so we set about doing it.

The strange thing about creating a brand was we started to look at t-shirts in a totally different way, not just focusing on the design but also the style of t-shirt, the method of printing and what the tags were like. From that moment we knew there was only one way forward and we had to make the dog work.

You’ve not been on the scene for too long but seem to be progressing really well. Can you tell us a bit about how you go about designing and producing each t-shirt – can you explain from ‘shed to shop’? Shed to shop is our simple concept of a completely in-house production which is highlighted in our ‘about’ video on our website [featured above]. The shed is the base of our operation and all the designing and creation comes from within. We set each other targets to meet each month with the aim that we can individually come up with ideas and then collaboratively finalise and tweak designs before committing to production.

So in terms of the production you do all the printing yourselves? We purchased a screen printing kit in January 2010; which meant it was time to move from the loft to a new, bigger workshop. Fortunately, mother dearest said we could move our operation into her shed so we jumped at the chance. This was the day it all changed really, everything turned a little more serious and we officially moved into the realms of professional screen printing.

It was definitely a steep learning curve and we won’t lie, we made some really silly mistakes. We still laugh at them now but thanks to the internet, we were able to get all the answers to our questions by asking plenty of novice questions on loads of different forums. Through plenty of trial and error and numerous t-shirts ending up as rags we now all feel that we can call ourselves accomplished screen printers.

Currently we print all our own designs and even the finer details are covered in the shed, like sewing on the hem tags; Alex has become quite the seamstress lately. We make sure that the designs we produced are within the limits of what we can achieve, but we have a saying in the shed about being an optimus prime and not a negatron and continue to test ourselves with ever more complex designs which you will see in the future. We can only get bigger and better.

What does or will distinguish yellowdog from the rest of the UK streetwear and independent brands being dropped these days? The ethos behind our work is the simplicity of using bold shapes and clean lines but then this isn’t necessarily something new. What we feel will really set us apart is our concept of ‘shed to shop’; it’s all our own hard work from the designing, to the printing and we want hope that people pick up on this and support it.

We aim to give our designs a kind of story, the video mentioned earlier shows the production process of our ‘sundown’ design and this is something that we are looking to take further with each big release. We want people to buy into the journey and hope they look forward to seeing new designs and how we created them.

Another thing that we are quite proud of is our blog, ‘the dog blog’. Although having a blog is nothing new for clothing brands, all 3 of us contribute with our varying styles and individuality which has created a pretty diverse and well-read blog.

Who or what influences you in your work? All 3 of us have different influences which is great because together we hope to create something fresh and new rather than just becoming another copycat brand.

To nail down a main influence for each of us, we would say;

  1. Chris – Ugmonk,
  2. Alex – Jonny Cupcakes,
  3. Dom – Who? Clothing.

These are not just an influence in our work but definitely an influence and aspiration of how we would most like to run our business and all 3 have ended up being unofficial mentors.

What’s your take on the independent clothing scene in the UK at the moment? Booming. It’s a great place to be at the moment with some great concepts being developed. The demand is certainly out there for independent clothing and the trick is to just keep the interest and individuality going.

What’s also brilliant about it is the support you get within the clothing community, despite being direct competitors UK brands still support each other heavily. The positivity between us is impressive – be it a shout out, a link on a blog or even just a simple ‘like’ on Facebook, everyone is helping everyone it seems.

How do we compare to the rest of the world – can UK brands compete on an international stage? We definitely believe that the UK has one of the best up and coming clothing industries. Just take a look outside your window, the variety in what people are wearing is huge! Blending all sorts of styles and not being afraid of trying new things is definitely keeping the UK well ahead of the game. The UK can certainly compete with the rest of the world.

Where do you see you and yellowdog being in 5 years’ time? In short; a thriving online store and blog with our products stocked in a number of independent clothing stores across the country.

We would still want to continue printing our designs in-house as this is so import to us and the yellowdog concept. We would therefore hope to have a fully developed workshop that allows us to expand our product base to include items like snapbacks, 5 panel caps, bags and custom printed artwork. Also, getting our vinyl decks moved in there and a couple of pinball machines wouldn’t hurt either.

Music is another passion of ours so expanding our links within the music industry on a more collaborative scale would be great!

Where can people expect to catch your product, is Yellowdog in any physical stores? Our products are currently only available through our website, however we are currently in talks to get our designs into a few independent stores – so watch this space.

If you could say something to your fans, what would it be? Without sounding too gushing we would like to thank everyone that has supported us so far and hope you stay with us on our journey, wherever it may take us.

Likewise to your haters? Don’t hate the dog.

Top 3 favourite albums? This is a great question, music plays such an important role in getting us motivated and pumped up when we are printing. You just need to see how often we blog about music to see how much love we’ve got for it.

Tough to narrow all our different tastes down to 3 albums, so based on what we play most in the shed, it would be:

  1. Crazy P – When We On
  2. Plej – Electronic Music from the Left Coast
  3. Uusi Fantasia – Heimo

…and we couldn’t leave without mentioning the ridiculously talented Chris Coco, we tune into his ‘Melodica’ cloudcast each week on Mixcloud and they definitely never feel overplayed.


Shout outs

  1. Barkley – the resident dog (Chris’ labradoodle)
  2. Justin Juno – our web designer
  3. Shaka Clothing – always there to help us
  4. Ugmonk , Johnny Cupcakes, and Who? Clothing – our unofficial mentors

The yellowdog brothers (+ dog) are testament to what you can achieve with a bit of dedication. There are few brands in the UK that are entirely in house – designing, producing and selling everything completely on their own – and given the workload I’m not too surprised. Even if you’re not feeling the designs, you surely have to give Dom, Alex and Chris props for their work ethos and the effort they’re putting in! I’ve got a lot of time for brands going truly independent, here’s to yellowdog’s future successes. I’ll definitely be supporting them!

For those of you who want to grab yellowdog product, head over to their webstore. For those of you who just want to find out more, hit up their Facebook page, Twitter account, Tumblr page or simply catch up on ‘the dog blog‘.

If you have any thoughts on what the yellowdog boys have had to say, or want to recommend a new brand you’ve discovered or just want a chat about something you’ve seen on FatKidOnFire, drop a comment below or get in touch via emailTwitterFacebook or the FKOF TakesQuestions page.