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Rich Sanders

The creative director of streetwear brand Chunk tells Kanika Findley-Chin about expansion plans and getting involved in bike polo

Chunk was conceived in 2001 over, in your words, “A pint and a packet of peanuts”. What difficulties has the brand faced since its humble beginnings?

It’s been very challenging for us. For a long time we were perceived as just a T-shirt brand. Two years ago we started associating the brand with bike polo by sponsoring events. It’s a similar sport to polo, only bikes are used instead of horses. We designed a logo linking the brand to bike polo and it’s featured on a selection of polo shirts, hoodies and T-shirts. It’s helped us to broaden the range.

Chunk is sponsoring The World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships in Berlin this month. What does that involve?

It will be the biggest bike polo event of the year featuring about 90 teams from around the world. We are the main sponsors of the tournament and we will also be sponsoring the winning team for a year, bringing the members to London for a week to work with our design team to develop a bespoke team kit.

What’s the biggest challenge in designing for the urban streetwear market?

Staying trend relevant. We spend lots of time in the market reading current media and I keep a notebook with me at all times, so anything interesting I see I note down. I also take lots of photos with my phone of what people are wearing in the street.

You quit a job in advertising and joined Chunk nine years ago as creative director. What keeps you inspired?

The advertising world can be quite restrictive and I wanted to revisit my creative side. I’d studied graphic design, but I didn’t have a fashion background so I had to dive in and be prepared to learn fast. I’ve really enjoyed the challenge [of the transition] and coming up with new ideas. Also, becoming a partner in the company a few years ago has been a great motivator. That makes you raise your game.

Do you have any plans to expand?

We’re negotiating deals with potential distribution partners for the US and Japan. When we first began we expanded quickly and went into womenswear, which we no longer do - for now we’re keeping it within menswear. That’s not to say we wouldn’t relaunch womenswear in the future, though. A lot of women tend to buy our men’s T-shirts in small sizes and then take the sleeves off.

Do you have any plans to open a store?

We’re planning to set up our own concept store and are looking at a number of different locations. We’re hoping to find somewhere near Brick Lane in east London.

What other brands do you admire and why?

I love the fact that Fred Perry is a great British brand with a good heritage. Also Carhartt - I like that it is never a slave to trends. It is true to its own brand.

Favourite TV show?

True Blood.

Who is your style icon?

Music producer Mark Ronson (pictured) or designer Tom Ford.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I spend as much time as I can with my two-year-old daughter.

Favourite city?

New York. Whenever I go I try to stay with friends - it’s the best thing to do.

Rich Sanders is creative director of streetwear brand Chunk

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