Walking through the capital on a glorious day like today, it is instantly apparent that the logo or printed tee is the summer uniform for the style savvy. London has never looked so good. Whether it is the Chelsea kids in Serge DeNimes or the fashion pack in Boy London, streetwear t-shirts are more popular than ever. However, unlike much of the rest, Illustrated People is not another ubiquitous streetwear label.
Launched almost a decade ago, initially as hand-printed tees for men, Illustrated People has steadily expanded into a brand with a massive fan base, with concessions in Topshop and ASOS, as well as sales across the seas.
I gatecrashed their Brick Lane studio and hung out with the talented team, discussing their vision and future plans and had a sneaky glimpse at the new collections.
The illustrations are created in-house by young artists and everything, from the designing, styling of campaigns to the marketing is done by the small but extremely dynamic collective. I rooted around their research and moodboard walls, had a peek in the print screens room but was most excited by the ‘unveiling’ of the A/W women’s collection – without spoiling the surprise, expect luxury textures and a covetable cropped polo neck that I’ve already shotgunned. Their collection ranges from vests, tees and crops in fine jersey and embellished knitwear, beanies and scarves, to the menswear line, relaunching this month.
While the statement tee fad may be a passing trend, Illustrated People is here to stay. You heard it here first.
Streetwear has always been prevalent on the London fashion scene but now it seems to be dominating the mainstream with global superstars such as Rita Ora, Jessie J and Rihanna repping cool logo tees and a street vibe. Does this excite and inspire you?
Yes. We think it’s great that people in the public eye are wearing more streetwear! We love the fact that people can afford things that great role models like Jessie J are wearing, this is what Illustrated People are about too. Streetwear is more accessible than ever, which we think is really strong, Illustrated People wants to be affordable to its customer, yet luxurious and unique. People like Rihanna are strong role models, with a message and a voice and a worldwide fan base, so it can only be a good thing for them to be supporting London labels and streetwear.
Which other designers or clothing brands do you like and admire?
Anyone that is doing something different and unique. At the moment London is such a great place to be in with new and exciting things going on, whether in clothing, music or events so we are constantly inspired by the city which we love. We are based in East London, so all the great vintage shops around here are great inspiration rather than looking to particular brands. At the start of every project we are in such a good position as we can just walk around the East End and be inspired; Blitz is one of our favorite places to source inspiration, for both shapes and print ideas.
You sell at Topshop and ASOS; it seems that the British high street is at the forefront of fashion at the moment, do you agree?
Yes we would agree, but we think that is such a positive thing, because it means that great clothes are available to everyone, all ages and sizes. The high street has also become a lot more excited about young creatives and more open to different new designers, which we really respect.
Being ‘Illustrated People’ who are your favourite artists and illustrators?
One of our favourite things to do is go to the summer college shows and exhibitions, because there is always such good new talent coming out of London. We also spend time in different libraries throughout the city, which gives us a massive source of inspiration. As for specific artists or illustrators, we find inspiration in pretty much everything.
What next? What does 2012 and beyond hold for IP?
This summer is all about London, with the Jubilee and Olympics, so we are so excited, we think it’s great that it’s being held in our capital. Our high summer prints reflect this with strong London inspired pieces. Our menswear is also launching which we have been perfecting for a while. It concentrates on the perfect fit and quality with strong bold graphics to match our womenswear collections. We can’t wait for this to launch along with our new summer collection on our e-commerce website! Our A/W knitwear is also arriving this September which we think is our best knitwear collection to date, with so really original shapes and prints, in luxurious yet affordable knits.
You seem to really listen to the needs and desires of the consumer, with great quality, fit and design….
Illustrated People’s focus is to make every new collection better than the last. We are growing on our own e-commerce site and through social networking we want to be as interactive with our customers as possible. Showing them what life in the studio is like through photos on Facebook and Twitter and creating competitions and giveaways to involve our followers as much as possible in our day to day business. Being personal with our customers and followers and involving them is very important to us. We think this makes us unique and sets us apart from most brands.