What is Light Work?
Light Work is the name of my clothing line. The name itself is a slang term meaning something is easy or laid back and this is the attitude that I wanted to convey through my clothes. I started the brand way back in 2013 with my mate Alfie Beswick whilst I was still at sixth form, and since then it has just grown. We started off printing t-shirts after school with an ancient heat press, and have now got to the stage where we’re collaborating with an established American brand on some cut and sew pieces.
The brand is a social enterprise. What does that mean?
A social enterprise is a business that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human well-being. What that actually means in practice is that we try and use our business to have a positive impact in our local community. Working with the social enterprise organisation UnLtd, we have secured a grant that will allow us to open a pop-up shop and provide a space for local sixth formers to display their art and learn what it means to be an entrepreneur. Coming from Hackney there aren’t many opportunities for young creatives to display their work, so we wanted to use our business to display their talent.
How do you go about designing a new collection?
You’ve got to start with the idea you want to convey, the theme uniting all the pieces within the collection. For example, our last collection was centred on cartoon characters from our youth. Once you have that theme in place you can introduce your unique spin onto it, and it is this spin that will define you as a brand. Our laid back attitude defines Light Work, so we attempted to put a comic spin on cartoon characters from the past.
How are the pieces manufactured?
We currently use a supplier based in Wales for all our t-shirts and caps, and they’re pretty good. I’m a believer in producing everything as close to home as possible to reduce air miles so we try to get everything made in the UK. Our next collection is being made in the US in collaboration with Ebbets Field Flannels. They’re a pretty cool brand that produces vintage baseball caps, jerseys and jackets so I’ve loved working with them so far. It may be a distance to go but the quality of their stuff is amazing and it’s an honour to work with them on this collection. It should be coming out in April so keep an eye out.
So in regards to style, what would you say sets Light Work apart?
It’s got to be that laid back attitude. Our graphics always try to be comical and make fun of one thing or another. In all honesty I think it’s an East London thing. I don’t know what causes it, or even how to describe it but it’s that attitude to life that you see in all our famous characters. Whether it’s Dizzee Rascal or the Artful Dodger, there seems to be something about East London lads that says, “you’re having a bubble mate.” It’s that cockney cheekiness that we try to encapsulate in our clothes, so wearing Light Work is like saying yeah, this is the persona I want to exude. Wearing a picture of porky pig as a policeman obviously shows you’re a little skeptical of authority, but it’s the fact that (as one policeman pointed out to me) “it’s drawn in such detail I’ve almost got to respect you for it.”
Any closing remarks for wanna-be designers?
Promotion is key – no one’s going to buy your stuff if it’s not plastered all over social media.