After fighting and losing (yet again) with another substandard ISP, FatKidOnFire HQ is back up and running and ready to drop another feature. This one’s with another, unique (intentional pun) London-based brand who are doing things a little differently. This is a rather special post as well – FatKidOnFire is 90 posts old! A little celebration is in order. Details of that to follow. Peep the interview below and stay locked…
Find out more after the jump
Youneek Clothing are a clothing brand with a difference. Founded in 2008, the brand set out to forge their own path using the distinctly comic and quirky graphics you can see on their tees today. Evolved from an intriguing back-story involving William Whiz Kid (more about him later), Youneek caught my eye on Twitter so I sat down with Michael, the brand’s main man, to find out more…
Who/ what is Youneek Clothing? Youneek Clothing is a brand that I decided to start whilst in my 2nd year of university in 2008/9. I have always wanted to have my own clothing line; so I put in the work, time and research to get things together. Youneek is based on a character by the name of William Whiz Kid. This character is used to bring forth a surreal world, which is translated into the designs. I actually came up with the word Youneek as I wanted a name that stood out, that was quirky yet memorable. Youneek is a combination of the word ‘UNIQUE’ and ‘NEEK.’ For those of you that don’t know what a ‘neek’ is, it is often a term used for someone who is geeky/ nerdy (really smart). I guess I’m a bit of a nerd to be honest… The word is often used in a negative way, but I have tried to use it and make it positive. Like… What’s wrong with being smart?
Your current line of tee designs are all strong and striking – do you have a definitive brand image or are you just producing tees with sharp visuals? Well, when I started Youneek I did a lot of research into other brands, both in the UK and abroad. I looked into how they did their designs, what they were and consisted of. I wanted to make Youneek stand out from what I had already seen from other brands. The main brand image for Youneek revolves around William, the brand name Youneek, education and personal childhood experiences/memories. So a lot of the designs I will produce will have a connection with these areas. I think it is good to create a brand with a consistency and some sort of story to follow, it makes things fun and more creative. So designs will vary from simple type, graphical, 1 or 2 colour prints and more. I believe that the little details that are added to the tees such as hem tags, and printed neck tags add to the overall designs of the shirt.
What does/ will make your brand stand out and distinguish itself from the rest of the UK streetwear pack? I think the products I produce and the way that Youneek is seen will make my brand stand out from the other UK streetwear brands. There are a lot of good “brands” in the UK, but to be honest some of them don’t have a lot of substance to them. They are just designs on garments, mostly tees and sweaters. Anyone can get tees printed and sell them. I also think the way that customers are dealt with is a big thing in what will make Youneek standout. Little treats that I send out in the orders, customer service; the little things make a big difference – and are remembered by customers. I believe the quality and pricing of our items are very good. Youneek produces high quality designs and uses high quality materials. Some tees that other brands are selling at the moment can be seen as quite expensive, I think the prices that I have set for Youneek’s tees are decent… It’s still early days yet, but everything is a development, and I am always trying to improve and be on top of my game.
Who or what influences you in your work? My main ideas come from either personal experiences or memories, or just funny creative ideas I have. I’m like a big kid; so video games, cartoons, and films from my childhood have played a big part in my influence for the designs. Also the fact that I came up with a really crazy story for William Whiz Kid adds to the whole theme of Youneek. A lot of influences and crazy ideas can come from that story alone.
What’s your take on the whole UK streetwear scene at the moment? Hmmmm…. Well. The UK streetwear scene is ridiculously saturated. I knew that beforehand, but in the time of me having the idea of Youneek and actually bringing it together more people have started doing their thing in the UK. I think it is good that there is a lot of support for other brands from what I have seen so far. Good events are being organized to showcase the brands, for instance an event called “Off The Radar” happened recently, brands were able to set up stalls and sell their items all under one roof! That was really good, because although you are ‘competitors’ you can still operate under one roof and do your own thing. There are obviously the main brands that a lot of people know about because they have been around for a while, then there is the up and coming brands that are trying to find their feet, like Youneek. All in all I think the scene is healthy, however I think that the word branding needs to be looked into properly and needs to be addressed effectively. Not everyone creating tshirts and sweaters is a brand. Quite a lot of UK streetwear lines are producing just that, and to be honest I don’t know what the company or designs are about other than the fact that they may look cool when wearing them.
Where do you see you and Youneek Clothing being in 5 years time? 5 years… Definitely a wider selection of clothing and accessories. I don’t want to stick to just tees and sweaters. I also want to get involved with cut and sew items. So jackets, hoodies, jeans – the whole shebang! A greater presence online, around the UK and abroad. Maybe my own shop. Who knows…
Where can people expect to catch your work, any stockists to watch? To be honest I am trying to keep Youneek online at the store. I like to keep things personal and being able to deal with stuff myself is what I enjoy, the orders etc. I don’t really want my stuff in stores, may be a few select stockists but not too sure as yet.
Top 5 favourite albums? That’s a hard one… Haven’t really listened to a full album in a while.
- Justin Timberlake – Justified
- Destiny’s Child – The Writing’s on the Wall
- Keri Hilson – In a Perfect World…
- Alicia Keys – Element of Freedom
- Chrisette Michele – Epiphany
Shoutouts A big shoutout to all those who have supported me so far. Friends, family, people I have met and have given me advice and guidance. I want to shout out to the artists I worked with for the first photoshoot – PurpleBoii, Young Wilz, and Sockz – check out Quart-R-Backz Entertainment. And a big shout out to the photographer Jade!
So there you guys have it, another FKOF feature with another of the UK’s hidden streetwear gems. We reckon this is a brand to definitely keep track of – Youneek Clothing are doing things their own way but William Whiz Kid and the rest of the Genius City appear to be here to stay. If your Twitter game is on point, catch Michael and the rest of the Youneek family through their account and join their Facebook group to keep on top of their updates.
If you have any thoughts on what Michael has had to say, or thoughts on anything else you’ve read let us know either via the comments section below or through one of the other forms of contact (email, Twitter and Facebook)