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Driven by a kung fu mindset, the streetwear brand has rapidly fought its way up indies’ buying lists

In an industry crammed with attention-grabbing brand names, DrunknMunky still stands out. But this turns out to be a moniker with meaning, with the streetwear brand’s name coming from a particularly sophisticated style of kung fu created by Shaolin monks.

Martyn Todd, head of UK distribution, says: “It’s about inner belief and strength. It’s something we really believe in.” In business terms, this is something Todd is prepared to back up. “Retailers are challenged at the moment but while other brands are putting prices up, we are maintaining ours and even extending credit limits,” he says.

It is a long-term tactic. Todd says: “We’re taking a punt and working with retailers. When things are good again they’ll look back and remember how we supported them.”

Todd works for distributor Tigerleash, part of parent company The Source, which acquired the European licence for DrunknMunky in 2006. Already selling in the UK, the brand was languishing in the shadow of more ambitious brands and was sold through about 25 accounts. Less than 36 months later, that number has catapulted to 350, of which 160 are independent accounts. Todd says the gender split is 80/20 in favour of menswear, but says the womenswear business is also growing.

He adds that the brand’s growth is down to its blossoming brand recognition, something which has seen it shoulder its way past competitors. “We do so much to support the retailers - not just advertising but sponsorship deals too, like with the DMC World DJ Championships and the MOBO Awards. And we are working with Sony to offer an exclusive CD which we can give out as a gift with purchase,” he explains. The European sales team rarely misses a trade show. At Dutch young fashion trade show ModeFabriek in January the brand opened 42 accounts in just two days.

The Source’s control of the European licence means that fit and deliveries are different from its US counterpart collection. But the brand’s roots are still important.
It was dreamed up by two US students who were tired of seeing their peers clad in sportswear logos.

Dave Shanks, owner of The Source, says: “They were quite politicised lads and really felt the need to offer something more individual.” The brand was financed by Korean conglomerate Samsung and its turnover rocketed from zero to US$90 million (£64m) in the US within just two years.

The potential was clear. Although originally a T-shirt and jerseys brand, Todd says DrunknMunky is outgrowing those roots: “Retailers are buying it as a collection now and the knits and lightweight jackets are going well.” Shanks agrees, noting that the core menswear range has about 80 pieces, with 40 seasonal trend-led styles including of-the-moment lumberjack and washed-out denim shirts.

DrunknMunky 01642 228212


  • £10 to £45 The collection’s price range, from T-shirts to top-end jackets
  • 1996 Year the brand was founded
  • 350 Number of UK accounts

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