Lives and Levels x FatKidOnFire - Interview #115

Lives and Levels x FatKidOnFire

Interview #115

Chris has managed to sort himself a job (his first after leaving uni earlier this year) – huge congrats to him (and 5 Pointz for picking him up, love and thanks for that!) but it does mean we may see a slowdown in the streetwear content that gets posted here on FatKidOnFire.

Luckily, he’s been on the ball with sorting upcoming features so there’s still a bit of content lined up for the next few weeks. Fingers crossed we can work something out!  Today’s FKOF streetwear feature sees him talking to a new skate company from Sheffield…

Time for another brand feature here on FKOF. Lives and Levels are a recent startup from Sheffield, England, who have strong roots in skateboarding. They’re a brand who only recently popped up on my radar, but I knew as soon as I saw them that we had to get them a down for a feature.

What drew me to this brand, besides the strong graphics, is the ‘vibe’ they have. New brands are a dime-a-dozen these days, so most of the time, trying to pick ones to feature comes down to intuition and ‘feeling’ more than anything! I like how Lives and Levels is clearly a very personal project, grown out of ambition, passion and family life.

Here’s some of their own words that grabbed my attention:

“The name Lives and Levels comes from when me and my brother were kids and we’d play computer games, we’d take it in turns based on lives and levels (you lose a life you pass the pad, you complete a level you pass the pad). Family is important to me and my brother’s influence has given me everything I needed to create Lives and Levels. He came up with the name and it just seemed fitting to use a name that meant something to us both from our childhood”.

Read on to find out more…

Who are ‘Lives and Levels’? Lives and Levels was set up by me (Tom Sykes) and my brother (Oli Sykes) and I run it with my good friend Corey Leary. My Mum (Carol Sykes) helps out a lot with the business side, she knows what she is doing! 

What was behind the decision to start your own clothing brand? I’d had the idea for a while, I’ve worked alongside my brother for the past 7 years with his company, Drop Dead Clothing, and naturally learned the ins and outs. I’ve skated since I was a kid and it’s always been my main passion, it seemed obvious to me to take everything I’d learned and apply it to something that I loved. It was also my brother’s idea to get things going, he helped a lot with the set up and he also came up with the name! 

Your brand has grown, in part, from a passion for skateboarding; why do you think clothing brands and skateboarding are so often linked? I guess it’s the same for any scene, it’s fashion! Skateboarding and skate/streetwear is definitely in fashion at the minute, in some cases a skateboard has become a fashion accessory, which I don’t agree with but it can only be good for someone in my situation.

I can’t think of that many UK skate companies that mix the two though to be honest, you are either a clothing company that sells skateboards or a skate company that has a few t-shirts on the side which is fine, but I want Lives and Levels to be recognised as a skate company that has quality apparel as well. Skateboard Cafe is a good example of a UK company with a strong image both on skateboards and apparel.

What other passions and interests do you have besides skateboarding? Do you find these feeding into Lives and Levels? I’ve always been into photography/ videography which definitely feeds into Lives and Levels; it gives me even more creative control over what I put out there, which is good for me because I can get a bit OCD when it comes to things like that! Music is another passion, I listen to all kinds of music, which will definitely show through the videos I put out and even the products I make, I have a range of skateboards coming out next year with a few hip-hop legends on, I can’t wait to release those! 

In terms of current (and future) designs, what do you find inspiring? Is there a particular vibe you aim for? Everything inspires me! I get ideas from everywhere; the music I listen to, the people I meet, the photos I take and the places I go!

I guess the vibe is my vibe, I want to release products that I am happy with and that I would wear or skate myself, I take that from my brother – he’s always had creative control over Drop Dead (since day 1). Every single item DD has released is something that my bro is stoked on! I’ve always been a bit more subtle than my brother with what I wear, I think if you put Lives and Levels at the side of Drop Dead you can see that straight away!

Do you have any kind of mission statement for the brand? Long term plans/goals etc? Nothing major is set in stone at the minute, it’s still early days so I’m kind of just flowing with it at the moment to see where it goes. I am putting a team together and I plan on doing a few trips and getting some edits out there. We also have a few collaborations lined up for next year which I am excited for!

Being a new brand, how have you found reactions to you so far? To be honest it’s been amazing, nothing but positive feedback so far which I didn’t really expect. I know better than anyone how much people like to talk sh!t over the internet! I’ve had illustrators, photographers and other brands approaching me to work together and from people that are extremely talented so it’s been amazing.

And lastly, any shout-outs? Too many! I will try and keep this short.. 

My brother, my parents, Corey and all my friends, Josh Kerr, Jake Wainwright, Jack Newman, Jim Perry, Nathan Copestake, Conal Bailey, Ash Hall @ Simple, Nick Worthington, Ronny Callow @ Legacy skate store, and anyone that continues to support Lives and Levels! Oh and of course you guys at FatKidOnFire for putting this feature together!!

Lives and Levels are, as mentioned, a very new brand. I’m keen to see where they go, as clearly this is an adventure for Tom and co, with the direction being wherever the journey takes them! With their background I can see it going to some interesting places, so good luck to them.

If you want to keep up with their journey too, give em a follow on Twitter, a like on Facebook and follow them in pictures on Instagram. If you fancy getting yourself a piece of this great new brand, hit up their website.

Hit Chris up on Twitter (or you can have a chat with me on @FatKidOnFire) or shout away in the comments if you enjoyed his latest post!

And if you’re a brand looking for exposure, why not drop Chris an email?