“FatKyds will never be commonplace”
T-Shirt designers FAT Kyds launched in 2009 creating a range of unique, exclusive T-shirts, designed by renowned fine artists and graphic designers. FAT Kyds keep charity close to their heart, donating £1 of each T-shirt sale to charity. We caught up with them over Christmas to talk to them about their designers, future collaborations and why they are called FAT Kyds.
Where did the idea of FAT Kyds come from?
The idea of Fat Kyds came from my desire to create something individual. An individuality born out of the frustration of finding clothes that spoke to me and at the same time wasn’t commercialised. I love clothes and appreciate the craft and creativity that goes into not only to the design and manufacture of items, but also the wearer’s ability to use their own personality and taste to combine them in ways that say something about their individuality.
Where and how did it start?
I wanted to create something that had no geographical ties or an identity that belonged to everyone. I wanted to create a label that would be able to merge my love of art, music and fashion and the humble white t-shirt was the perfect canvas for this concept.
Why the name FAT Kyds?
It’s a bit tongue and cheek really. I was always fascinated with kids at school who were often ridiculed for being different and non-conformist as I regarded it as a way of early self-expression. The irony of life is that when we become older we go out of our way to be individual and different from the crowd. That’s how Fat Kyds came about; I wanted to create a name that encompassed these so-called ‘outsiders’ and ‘individuals’ as a means to showing their true fashion potential.
You pride yourself on being original and unique, who would best represent FAT Kyds?
Anyone who defies the odds and has the ability to create something great and unique, whilst attempting to forge their own path. These include people who have started with a concept and achieved remarkable things and garnered respect as a result and especially those whose circumstances don’t prevent them from accomplishing their goals.
Are there any plans to branch out, or just to stay with T-Shirts?
People would generally expect a typical capitalistic answer, to grow and grow and make lots of money. However, I’m not looking to get our shirts into department stores, or any such commercial angle. If I were to, it would effectively betray the principals this brand was founded on. The aim is to keep numbers low, to be safe in the knowledge that there are only a select few individuals who will be privy to the artwork and the knowledge that it will never be repeated again. The whole point is that as much as anything, we are promoting individuality. The low runs are meant to insure that. If we saturate the market, it really no longer has the same feel. We want to gather a small group of people who have the same outlook on fashion and art and cater to these people by providing the clothing they want.
Who are the designers of FAT Kyds, where and how did you come about getting involved with them?
It’s a collaborative effort. The prime brand was designed by renowned British artist Athier. I have been a keen follower of the young art scene from some of the prominent art colleges for some time now and Athier’s work grabbed my attention early on. I kept track of his career with great interest and when FAT Kyds took form, I had no hesitations in asking him to participate. I wanted to collaborate the first ever line with someone who would truly grasp the concept and create a totally different design ethic that is inherently FAT Kyds. I felt Athier was the best person to do this. He designed the logo and shirts in a style which broke with his traditional fine line art for something fresh but equally detailed and unique.
Following this, I contracted out to a Montreal based firm called BK design who took the assets and ran with it to create the website. A lot of extra artwork was created uniquely for the site from them and I appreciated the effort and time taken to understand the unorthodox methodology.
How do you select artists and designers, what is the process you go through with them?
For me the artist’s ability to understand the concept is of the utmost importance. The ability to understand who a FAT Kyd is and the ability to create amazing pieces of art that are powerful in their own right. When the next artist is brought on board to work on series two, the whole look of the brand and site will change. The site and perhaps even the logo will take on visual elements derived from the new artist’s style. The brand is as much a part of the current series as the shirts themselves, so we will continually be evolving. The challenge that inspires me the most is keeping up with fashion trends, and using this as inspiration to blaze new trails.
Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
I have a short list of possible artists we may use for the next collection. The most important element I look for in an artist is their ability to really capture the spirit of FAT Kyds and create designs that will strike a chord with the FATKydologists. As you can imagine there is a lengthy process involved in picking the artist but I have faith that each artist will always bring a certain “je ne sais quoi” that makes FAT Kyds… so watch this space.
You work closely with Nordoff Robbins charity, how did this begin? How are you involved with them?
Even before the creation of FAT Kyds I have always had the strong aim that my first venture would involve a strong element of charity, ideally one with a strong artistic foundation. I have been donating to Nordoff Robins for some years now and as FAT Kyds was being shaped I couldn’t think of a better charity that I wanted to be involved with. We were blown away by the enthusiasm NR showed FAT Kyds and especially proud to be one of the first products ever they have lent their name to. Our current involvement is such that we donate a pound from every T-shirt sold, whether that is the main line, the Connoisseur edition or the unlimited edition to the charity. We are also starting work on a Nordoff Robbins inspired T shirt , with all proceeds going to the charity.
Where do you see FAT Kyds in 5 years?
A tough question to answer considering we have just begun! I hope that we would be enjoying modest and sustainable success, enough that the majority of the focus would be placed solely on the creativity and the FAT Kyds ethic. I would love to create a small community around FAT Kyds where discussions, suggestions and enthusiasm were common; a tangible and ongoing connection with the audience.
Interview/Text NATALIE MILLER