The product and design team behind T-shirt label Amplified talk to Laura Jackson about their influences and aspirations.
What is the inspiration behind the Amplified brand?
Laura Goodman, head of design and production: Since Amplified began, our direction has been music. David Bowie, Blondie and the Rolling Stones have an amazing musical heritage, and we felt there was a market for these bands to make a comeback as part of a new fashion offering.
How has the brand evolved since you first started?
Laura: We originally had six designs for men and six for women. Now our core collection has 12 men’s designs in six different colourways and eight for women in six different fits and colour combinations.
We have a vintage collection, a kids’ range and a premium offering, which sells at a slightly higher price point and has more detailing.
Nicholas Biela, designer: We’ve also just launched Eight, a new line which features 15 different used and failed Olympic logos. It’s a departure from our musical influences and has quite a cool retro feel to it.
Laura: And we have just launched a range of hats, printed scarves and plimsolls that we plan to expand on.
Anthony McEwan, graphic designer: In terms of design, now is a key time for change at Amplified. Although musical influences will remain strong, we all feel that something fresh needs to be injected into what we are doing. Taking our rock ’n’ roll theme forward has been difficult, as we’ve wanted to keep our brand identity but show we can evolve too. For 2008, for example, we have turned to other musical influences, such as New York disco Studio 54, which shows our fun side.
Nicholas: Definitely. We’ve added a lot more colour and moved away from the darker palettes we’ve used in the past. This shows that we have versatility as a brand.
How do you come up with the designs?
Anthony: A lot of the images we use are licensed, so we have to work around designs that already exist. Myself, I have always been influenced by graffiti. I come from a textiles and fine art background, and the 1970s style of artists such as Andy Warhol inspires me, so I try and incorporate this into the logos.
Nicholas: Colour palettes play a big part in my design. Colour brings a whole new dimension to the arena, and it’s important to pick the right colours to set off each design. Although my own personal style is not exactly the Amplified look, I think my passion brings a fresh impetus to the brand.
What are this season’s key pieces?
Nicholas: We work close to the season so most of the product we showed at Bread & Butter Barcelona has been spring 08 and is available now. For men, zipper detailing and hoodies are key for us, with all-over graffiti prints. For women, badge detailing and vest tops are strong. The colours that we’ve concentrated on are burgundy and aubergine, royal blue, lemon and lime, and monochrome patterns.
Anthony: The new collection has more of a street feel than a pure rock ’n’ roll look.
Where do you see the brand going in the future?
Laura: We’d like to expand the number of shapes for women, maybe adding some dresses to offer a smarter element. And we’d like to increase our basics offer for men.
Nicholas: Men will just wear a T-shirt and be happy whereas ladies like to have a lot more choice, so we want to be able to provide that.
Anthony: We’d like to develop our core brand so we’re not dependent on music licences any more. We will always have our rock ’n’ roll roots and they are still very clear in our product, but we really want the prints to be our own. A brand like Stussy is the sort of label we’d like to be sitting against.
Who is your fashion icon and why?
Nicholas: Comme des Gar篮sis a fantastic brand. It has such a special design ethos, and all three of us find the product so inspirational. The concept stories really are amazing.
Comme des Garǯns:
Known for its use of distressed fabrics and monochromatic palettes, Japanese label Comme des Gar篮s – French for ‘like boys’ – was founded by Rei Kawakubo in 1973, and its popularity soared following its debut on the Paris catwalk in 1981.
Its store locations include Dover Street Market in London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong. In 2004, the brand began opening “guerilla stores” – shops in unusual locations outside of the city centre that stay open for no longer than a year.
To date, these stores have appeared in cities including Reykjavik, Warsaw, Helsinki, Stockholm, Athens and Beirut. In 1993 Japanese designer Junya Watanabe started a sub-label for Comme des Gar篮s, and in 2003 his countryman Tao Kurihara followed suit.
Other collaborators have included Vivienne Westwood, Fred Perry, Levi’s and Speedo.