Hype’s creative director on the short-order brand’s move into womenswear and why he quit university.
You’ve recently added womenswear and footwear to the men’s streetwear that Hype launched with in 2011. Why did you decide to do this for autumn 13?
Womenswear was something I tried to do from the start, but I only had very basic knowledge of pattern cutting; I’d normally just use basic shapes and refashion with prints. I’d always tried the basics such as leggings and crops, but it wasn’t enough. We now have a womenswear specialist, so we are able to produce custom silhouettes. With more than half of our customers being women [buying the menswear to wear themselves], it made sense. For the footwear we never had a contact that could produce them,
and I don’t believe we had a big enough following before now to justify the factory minimums.
How different have you found womenswear to menswear?
Women’s fashion moves a lot quicker so I have to ensure I’m never missing the boat. Previously I’d only designed menswear, where I could just design something I’d wear myself. But with women’s I had to get into the mind of a female. I may have read a few women’s magazines and style sections to do this, but who’s telling?
You set up the brand while you were still at university. How did it come about?
I was studying graphic design at De Montfort University in Leicester and before that I’d been working at a company designing prints for high street stores such as River Island, Next and Topman. I’d always had a keen interest in design and was also heavily involved in producing promotional material for local events and through this I met [Hype co-owner] Aidy Lennox. With his keen interest in music and my interest in design we started Hype.
Do you feel you’ve missed out on anything by dropping out of university?
I feel I’ve missed out on the social aspect, although I’m glad I dropped out when I did as I realised what I truly wanted to do. I think if I had stayed for the planned three years the outcome could have been something completely different. I’d like to return to university some time - maybe not as a student, but I’d love to teach. I think a lot of raw talent goes unnoticed and a lot of designers get taught to be something or someone they’re not, when they should be given free rein to express their own style.
Your turnaround time is just one week. How do you manage to manufacture so quickly?
We produce a lot of our items in Leicester. With the clothing we hold stock on pre-cut panels, and then we refashion them using sublimation [a printing technique]. We can generally turn an item around in seven days. Additionally we work with factories in Dubai which offer a similar service and turnaround time, so we have both options to work from.
With 300 stockists worldwide, including Asos, Topman and Zalando, after just two years, do you worry about growing too quickly and becoming mainstream? We’ve never worried about being mainstream - we actually use the phrase ‘Hype is for everyone’. I don’t worry it will become uncool or lose its niche as we have a vast number of lines , which ensures there’s variety and diversity between our ranges. However, we’ve started to cap our UK distribution to the current number of more than 100 retailers, which we feel represent us well.
Are there any stores you’d love to see Hype in?
I’d love to be somewhere like Oki-ni or some cool independent streetwear shops.
What other product plans do you have in the pipeline?
I’ve been planning to release a high-end Hype, with very limited runs offering conceptual pieces to some more affluent stores. I’ve yet to actually get round to it but hope I will soon.
What other brands do you admire?
As an avid hat lover I’ve always liked LA brand The Quiet Life simply because it was my favourite hat company and they’d always bring something new to the table. I also admire I Love Ugly as it seems to have created a mix of street culture with a heritage look of its own and it works effortlessly.