The second feature of the night is another from Chris, back after his last chat with MASS from earlier in September. The next one has been a long time coming (sorry to both Chris and Jo for the delay) – it’s an in-depth read and so is a bit long, but it’s most definitely a good one…
Welcome to another fashion feature!
This time, we’re looking at UK-based brand Mighty Humble. MH got in touch with us recently, and after checking out their website we loved their style and what they were about, and thought you guys might too.
When we had a chat with Chris, the main man behind the brand; we discussed everything from the brands beginnings to ethical viewpoints and sustainably manufactured clothing.
It was nice to have such an in-depth interview and we really feel like we got to know the brand and who they are. If you want to know more, read on…
Tell us more about who Mighty Humble are… Hmm, interesting question…. I would say it’s anyone who wears our clothes. Anyone who wants to wear interesting t-shirts, believes in supporting creative people, and places a value on having ethically and environmentally sound clothing.
It’s also the creative people whose work graces our t-shirts. On a day-to-day basis, it’s me curating and commissioning new designs, connecting with like-minded people and getting the t-shirts out there.
What’s your background before Mighty Humble, and what made you decide to start your own brand? Immediately before setting up Mighty Humble I spent four years developing a music tech startup called FATdrop. I helped co-found the company and grow it. Before that I was working for myself as a freelance graphic and web designer.
I’ve also been heavily involved in promoting dance music events and DJing. I co-ran a sound system for a while and also set up one of the first dubstep nights in Brighton. I’ve been DJing since I was 15 and electronic music is a pretty key aspect and influence in my life. That’s one of the reasons why our most recent t-shirt is by Zeke Clough. I totally love the sleeves he did for Laurie Appleblim and Sam Shackelton’s Skull Disco label.
You work with a variety of illustrators/ artists/ designers – how do you go about choosing who you work with? Having a really strong background and interest in graphic design and music means I discover new illustrators/ artists/ designers all the time – through design blogs, friends, record sleeve art, that kind of thing. If someone’s work captures my attention I Google them and bookmark their portfolio. I’ve been doing that for a while now actually. I’ve probably got a list of over 100 links.
When it’s time to put together a new collaboration I go through the list and see what might work next. Based on whose work we’ve already got in our range, the most recent design also plays a role too. To be honest though, if I’m really feeling a particular person’s work and they’re open to working with Mighty Humble, I normally go for it!
Mighty Humble is really about distilling creativity and getting it to a wider audience. It’s not meant to be a cash cow. It’s meant to be a sustainable entity in every way possible. It’s also meant to be fun! I hope this comes through in the designs.
What things inspire and motivate you? For Mighty Humble – good art/ design/ graff/ illustration. Especially work that’s not getting the attention it deserves! Trying to do things in the most sustainable and ethical way possible. That’s a key part of what I always wanted to do with Mighty Humble. Especially when I look at what companies like Patagonia and howies are doing.
I’m also personally inspired by clever web technologies, innovative product design. Did you know that you can grow chairs from willow? They’re thinking of applying similar technology to housing too. That’s mind-blowing isn’t it! I also love entrepreneurial stories. I’m an avid Wired mag reader and can often be found absorbing articles on TechCrunch during my lunch break.
You clearly have some strong ethics behind your brand – talk us through the decision to have such a strong ethical stance… It started off as a personal belief a few years back. I’ve never been a high street shopper and began to get more aware of the impact of non-sustainable clothing manufacture on both the environment and people. So I started trying to change my own shopping habits. Looking for clothes that were sustainably made and ethically viable. I got pretty frustrated. I found a couple of brands that made sense AND made clothes I wanted to wear, but for the most part the ‘eco’ clothing labels I found were either dull or overtly ‘eco warrior’ branded. Which just didn’t fit for me personally.
So when it was time to start a new project I thought it would be interesting to see if I could produce sustainable and ethical t-shirts that were interesting and stylish too. It seemed like a great way to combine having a creative and sustainable business idea. I believe in ethics, sustainability, being green, whatever people want to call it. It needs to become standard practice though, not simply a marketing tool for companies trying to improve their image.
Do you have any kind of mission/long-term goals for the brand? We have a few…Our core mission is to keep putting out designs by the creative people who inspire and excite us and to be as sustainable as possible. Those two goals run through everything we do.
If we could get to a point where Mighty Humble is in a position to really bring unknown talent to a bigger audience that would be amazing. There’s also a wish list of established artist/ illustrators who I’d like to get involved in the project too. In the long-term I’d love Mighty Humble to become a really trusted brand. The kind of thing where, if you pick a product off the shelf and it’s got ‘Mighty Humble’ on it, you know it’s going to be a quality product and you won’t have to worry if it’s ethically and sustainably manufactured.
We also want to work with more record labels, like our recent collaboration with Well Round Housing Project and Tazelaar Stevenson. In terms of the business mentality, I also want to develop the idea of conscious business practices throughout the fabric of the company’s culture as we grow.
What’s your take on the UK streetwear scene at the moment? I’m going to be totally honest here and say that I don’t really follow the UK streetwear scene directly. I read various magazines, blogs and websites, which cover brands people would probably define as streetwear, but I don’t pay close attention.
I think if you get too wrapped up in what other people are doing that can warp your personal direction or perspective – or whatever you want to call it. Which, in turn, can dilute or alter what you do. I think young British fashion is going strong though. It’s really exciting to see how the UK scene mutates, both in terms of music and fashion. Taking things, owning them, bending them to it’s own purpose and spitting out entirely new directions. That’s something I find massively interesting. Appropriation for a new purpose. I think it stems from my love of music. I’m fascinated by how new strains of music develop. You know, how Jamaican music, traditional African, American jazz and old-time rhythm and blues developed into Rocksteady, Ska and subsequently Reggae. Or how kids in the US took old funk records and turntables and created hip-hop. That sh!t fascinates me… Sorry I’m rambling now.
Current soundtrack to your life? I’m always trying to absorb as much new music as possible. I’ve been massively into house since the early 90s. So I’m really into some of the new house coming out of the UK and abroad right now. Donga from Well Rounded just sent me a new EP called ‘Slow Spectrum’. It’s all down-tempo house grooves. I’m really feeling that and that’s coming out on their sister label WRHP.
Plus loads of South American dance stuff I keep hearing blasting out of taxis and hole in the wall food joints. I’m currently spending some time in South America so that’s everywhere. Oh and the Collins’ ‘Let’s Learn Spanish’ CD is getting a fair bit of my listening time too!
Current iPod favorites:
- XXXY – ‘I Know This Can’t Be Love’ [Well Rounded]
- Charo – ‘Floating Free’ [WotNot Music]
- PBR Streetgang – ‘You Ready? [Bootleg]
- Blawan – ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage’ [unreleased]
- DMX Krew – ‘Mustard Parasol’ [Wavey Tones]
- Various – ‘We Are Family Vol.1’ EP [West Norwood Cassette Library]
Any shoutouts? A few people definitely deserve a mention seeing as I have the chance. Firstly, all the Mighty Humble artists so far. Without their creative talent this project wouldn’t even be off the ground. Ashley (aka Donga) at Well Rounded Records for being our first music label collab. He who knows it shows it! David and the other eggs at Big Egg Films. They did a couple of really great videos for us over the summer, which you can check out on our Facebook page. And, of course, everyone who’s rocking a Mighty Humble t-shirt. Big love!
It’s always really interesting to hear from brands with such strong ethics and who are clearly highly driven and motivated. Another thing that stands out to me is the fact that Chris has such strong and clearly defined goals; to work with people who excite him, and to put out great, ethically produced products. I also have big respect for his desire to want to be in a position where they can bring unknown artists into the spotlight – that’s definitely a goal that FKOF shares.
We wish them the best of luck and hope they achieve all their goals and then some! Support MH by visiting their site here, give ’em a like on Facebook and keep up to date with them via the medium of 140 characters on Twitter here.
And if you’re a brand looking for exposure, why not drop Chris an email?