Whilst streetwear, and street culture in general, is now very accessible in the UK, with brands like The Hundreds and Obey on every corner, this month Breaks Mag takes a look back at one of the first boutiques to pioneer this scene.
Back in 2003, Newcastle’s Electrik Sheep, and it’s owners Design Studio Reluctant Hero were scouring the globe for brands, artists, and other goods that a lot of the UK, and especially Newcastle, were yet to hear of.
The world, and this scene in particular, was a different place then. Banksy was only known to a handful of people, and his prints were around £100. Archetypal streetwear brands like Zoltar, Call of The Wild, and PAM couldn’t be found this side of the Atlantic, you couldn’t walk into your provincial Urban Outfitters to pick up a book on street-art or a LOMO camera, and you’d certainly be hard pushed to attend a monthly contemporary art show / street party outside of London. Stocking everything from bright pink gimp masks to cutting-edge Japanese design magazines and paint, Electrik Sheep were joining the likes of Bond International and Analogue Books, in paving the way for ‘creative boutiques’ in the UK, which ultimately, has led to the Streetwear scene we know and love / hate today.
Whilst they never took the leaps into Streetwear Mecca’s that UK giants Urban Industry, Chimp Store, etc. have become, Electrik Sheep gave the folk of Newcastle and the rest of the UK, their fix of The Hundreds, 10Deep, Crooks & Castles and many more, since day 1, as well as their own brand of graphic t-shirts and whatever-takes-their-fancy attitude. That was always Electrik Sheep’s goal, to simply stock and share, what the creative team behind it, thought was interesting at the time. This attitude is perhaps the reason the store never stepped into a full-blown retailer, it was always simply a showcase for a Creative Studio.
Electrik Sheep’s gallery walls have been graced by art from Banksy, WK Interact, EINE, Eelus, the stable of P.O.W artists, and many more, lots of which have now became huge in the industry.
The much-loved physical store on Pink Lane has now closed, as the Designers moved onto new ventures, but the brand lives on online, albeit an entirely different beast, focusing mainly on their own random collection of graphic-tees, most of which pay homage to Newcastle.
Electrik Sheep will be sorely missed on Pink Lane, and if you’re of the younger generation, then we feel for you missing out on the excitement of picking out hard to find clothing, magazines, and other items which used to be niche. You have it easy!