I stupidly respect Graeme Gaughan. Dude is the communications director of London agency IPR, works there full time and still finds the time to run a fully fledged fashion brand that in just over two years has grown from a t-shirt and sweat line into one of the most exciting new brands to come out of London in recent times.
I’m obsessed with using time properly, it’s why I have the dumbest clock tattoo’d on my arm and it’s why I even attempt to try balance Breaks, work, life and everything else. I respect Graeme’s hustle because anyone can have a side project, but to do it well is a whole different ball game. TDT has my attention, now I wanna find out more.
So firstly, how did TDT come about?
You spend all day working with brands, I imagine it wasn’t hard to spot a gap that needed filling? I had been designing T-shirts and merchandise for some bands for a while before hand. And graphic design & Photography have always been something i had a lot of interest in. Spending a lot of my time with brands did give me some insights as to what worked well in the market, but i wasn’t trying to fill a gap per say. Starting TDT was more like a personal art project, or a way to exercise creative impulses. And thats how I approach each collection, research and ideas around a central theme or message which i then transfer to clothing.
How do you balance a fully fledged fashion brand and a day job?
I work a lot… haha. I dont have a lot of spare time of course. But I love doing both… I really enjoy having experience with lots of different brands and concepts. And also I can appreciate what the designers I look after go through. Its hard to establish a brand and then appreciate that I can talk from experience in that area.
Every collection thus far as had a strong central theme. How important is that to you and do you think some other younger brands miss the point by not being cohesive in that way?
I cant speak for other brands who create product without any form of concept… Not that this is wrong or right way to go, its just not how i think when i put together a collection. Having a central idea or message is very important to me. It keeps things focused and without it things would become very open and have the potential to get watered down.
I hate the ‘inspiration’ question but your collections beg the question; just where do you draw these ideas from?
It literally can come from anywhere or anything. Photography is usually a spring board, seeing print ideas within my own or other forms of photography. I am not really a fan of patterns that are made specifically for garments.. not for TDT anyway. I like to look at photographs and think how i can work into them to create a print on a garment. But then there are things like the gang of bangladeshi kids that hang out at the end of my street, the way they mix traditional Muslim garments with modern casual wear is always interesting to me…. And this has been an influence in the forthcoming AW14 collection.
Can you tell us more about why you choose to use a lot of t-shirts and sweats?
For the foundation of the brand at least. T-shirts and Art work hand in hand and a T-shirt is able to convoy a message in the same way a canvas hung in a gallery is… And in fact its a much more subtle, tactile and mobile way of creating that message. Look at katharine hamnett in the 80’s. She couldn’t have walked into downing street with a big canvas or poster…
I think there’s a lot to be said for having something as strong as a t-shirt as a foundation, get that right and the only way is up wouldn’t you agree?
To an extent yes… but I didn’t do just T-shirts for very long. I quickly realised that if i wanted to create a larger idea or concept then it would need more product and an overall look. And being someone who is into product it was exciting to create new categories and expend the collection. It was just about finding a way to make these new categories relevant to the overall concept. And there is the flip side of buyers needing to see more product in order to buy a selection that works for them. They like to create a look from choosing parts of the collection, not all of it. This is their chance to be creative so they like the options…. otherwise everyone has the same product in the stores.
You’ve spoken before about the lack of design training behind the brand – do you think that inadvertently, thats actually aided you?
Yes from the perspective that i want afraid to try things and would think you can do things that are very in fact quite difficult for factories. And if i had some training I may have not even entertained the idea of trying these idea. And I also get a lot of happy accidents through trying things and not knowing if they will work. I am actually getting a lot more technical now and have learnt a hell of a lot about designing product over the last two years so my specs and patterns are now pretty good. This will be really important as the range expands.
What are your plans for 2014 with the brand?
I want to introduce more product categories, and create more in season sub collections. I have a stack of artist friends who I have plans to collaborate with over the next few years in these sub or capsule collections. Also international expansion is important to the growth of the brand… there are still some territories where you cant physically buy our products. Only online… I have been told that the product performs very well in stores as well as online and this is important for me to have that connection with the customers…