In your world it’s probably fair to say that you Reign Supreme. But in the UK streetwear world in the UK theirs one brand that Reigns Supreme and that King Apparel. We recently caught up with co-founder of the brand Timmy Hoad to capture what’s on his mind when it comes to clothes, streetwear and the cap scene. Plus Timmy sends a treat your way with a preview of the King Apparel Spring 2014 New Era collection. What’s on your mind? Want to show off your collection – hit us up at email@example.com.
What motivated you to launch King Apparel back in 2002?
We actually had the idea in 2002 but didn’t start until 2003 as it took time to get organized and funding in place. Motivation really came from our desire to begin a label in the UK that could compete with the US brands but represented our own popular culture. Nothing existed at the time like that and we felt we could produce something that could credibly fill that void.
Are you a hat wearer – if so what is your style preference?
Occasionally, I prefer the look of our snapbacks as its a shallower shape with a smaller bill, although you cannot fault New Era fitteds – no one touches New Era on a fitted style. If we make a style that I particularly like then I will always take a copy for myself even if I don’t wear it so much.
Being in the streetwear game for quite sometime where do you see it heading in the next five years?
That’s a virtually impossible thing to predict as just one season is a long time let alone 10! However, I do think with those leading brands that have been doing things for 10-20 years now their craft has been so well refined that a movement towards greater quality and more contemporary led styling and construction will be where it heads. Those brands that cannot adjust to making good quality cut and sew will find it difficult to keep up I think.
What do you feel the differences are in the streetwear style and scene in the UK than in North America?
Well for sure the scene is bigger in the US and as such there is a lot more competition and a lot more filler. I have noticed that there is a greater proportion of brands that look to the ‘bigger’ brands for influence in the US so things can start to look a little generic. I think hip hop culture still pervades in the US when it comes to fit and style as well. The UK has influences and inspirations that are a lot different to the US so generally the feel and look of what we do definitely differs to the US and there is definitely a larger focus on overall quality, construction and contemporary led design in the UK but that is beginning to reflect in some brands in the US too.
What does the concept “Reign Supreme” try to communicate in your opinion?
It really just comes from the concept of where we are from, what being from the UK represents with our deep history and heritage in the monarchy, royalty etc. Reign Supreme was a slogan that evolved from that and concisely summed up what we felt our brand represents. We pretty much conceived it at the very start of our brand before streetwear even existed in the UK.
Do you find it challenging at times when you release some hot product not being able to re-release it with the 300 pieces or less per item policy?
Not really because we just quickly launch it in a new colour up or slightly revised design. That normally keeps people more than happy, especially knowing that every piece they own is very limited.
As a brand you’ve been the first to do many things like being the first UK brand to collaborate with New Era on the 59Fifty and even with the UK Government for the “Want Respect” campaign. For you which accomplishment to date means the most?
Getting that deal done with New Era before anyone else saw it coming and then doing the same thing with Starter on the snapback cap. No one else saw that coming – now every man and his dog wants that collab and to be honest we have moved away from that now as it doesn’t hold the credibility that it used to.
How did the relationship with New Era come to fruition?
In a nutshell we approached NE in the US, they didn’t make hats for anyone other than sports licenses and corporations like Ford. They put us in touch with New Era Europe who had literally just set up. We met pretty much immediately, we showed them what we had to offer, why we felt that the two brands were a good fit for each other and how we could help to push each others products into different spheres and that was pretty much it. We had the vision to approach them with a concept they hadn’t considered and that was it. Now they make hats for independent brands the world over.
What has been your personal favorite King Apparel 59Fifty New Era hat release – ever?
There has been a couple. I think the first would be the LDN gold lurex on black as before this hat all NE hats just utilized single logos on the front panels. This hat just used a cap like a completely unique canvas and it changed the game in terms of what people thought was possible on a cap. After that it was the introduction of ear flaps with hidden stash pockets, ear flaps with removable zips – stuff that really pushed the envelope in terms of what was achievable on a cap.
How involved are you with the design process of King Apparel hat releases?
Design is headed up by my long term business partner Paul Linton, however everyone is involved in bringing mood boards to the table for each season, what ideas and concepts we want to use and how the collection as a whole will look and then Paul takes all these ideas away and makes it happen.
Can you talk to us about the next New Era range releasing?
We have a couple of new styles being released – A Signature in navy blue with grey heather bill and light pink embroidery. Its such a sick colourway and that will fly. The other design is a East London Kings design which hooks up with crew sweats and a tee. A nice piece.
At the moment do you have a sponsorship program for artists or athletes?
We work with a selection of carefully chosen music artists, skateboarders etc each season and it works on an ad hoc basis to make sure we use the right people that work the best to represent that collection every season.
What can we all expect from the brand in the future?
I think an increasing move towards well designed, thought out and excellently constructed streetwear inspired menswear.
Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs trying to venture into the clothing industry?
Be prepared to work harder than the next man, you will get kicked in the nuts more times than you care to remember, but you should always keep moving forward and ultimately believe in what you are doing.
Apart from your online store where is King Apparel available in North America?
We have about 40 stockists throughout the US. Bigger stores you will know more specifically for hats are Hat Club and Lids. We make some exclusive designs for those guys that you cannot buy anywhere else and still keep things super limited so well worth checking out
Any closing words?
Thanks for the support from all those people who have bought, buy or will buy our stuff in the future. It is genuinely appreciated.