THE BRILLIANCE! > Nick of Twelve Bar… What’s good lately man? How is your day going so far?
NICK OF TWELVE BAR! > The sun is shining which is a rare thing in London and the mercury is rising so it’s all good.
TB! > How about breakfast this morning? How did that work out for you? You’re from London, do you eat crumpets? Or is that just something ignorant Americans always ask?
NTB! > I decided to treat myself today and had some pancakes with strawberries, raspberries and a little maple syrup. I have to confess I don’t eat crumpets but they are something that Americans do often ask me about as well as tea and scones and the Royal Family!
TB! > Tell us a bit about yourself, your background as lawyer for Maharishi, and of course your latest venture titled Twelve Bar… Just a quick synopsis…
NTB! > I’m 28 years young, live in London and have been fortunate to spend a lot of time in LA and New York over the years.
Twelve Bar is a premium streetwear brand which myself and my business partner Damien set up last year and it is inspired by everything we love from music, art and film to fashion, sport and literature. The name is a reference to the rhythm pattern which black music is derived from and is our way of showing how influential it has been on the development of street culture.
Before setting up Twelve Bar I was working as the inhouse lawyer at Maharishi. I first met Hardy, the founder and owner, when I was an entertainment lawyer. He asked me to come and work for him and the rest is history. It was an amazing learning experience being there.
TB! > Describe Twelve Bar with just two words.
NTB! > Fresh. Clean.
TB! > Real quick… If this interview had a soundtrack or a theme song, what would it be?
NTB! > Stevie Wonder’s “Songs In The Key Of Life”. I am listening to “Pastime Paradise” right now and it is truly amazing.
TB! > How many people are involved with Twelve Bar?
NTB! > At the moment there are five of us - three in London, one in New York and one in Tokyo.
TB! > When did the idea of Twelve Bar start brewing? How long did it take for everything to come to fruition?
NTB! > We started brewing the idea over beechwood last summer and the first line came to fruition in early December 2004 thanks to some serious commitment and a lot of hard work.
TB! > You say Twelve Bar is ‘inspired by black music and the incredible influence it has had on street culture’... It’s pretty obvious that hip-hop has simply taken over fashion in terms of both street wear all the way up to couture. Why do you think this is? Did it start with hip-hop?
NTB! > Black music has always had a huge influence on mainstream culture and fashion and this pre-dates hip hop. Quite why this is the case is very hard to say but every generation of black music has had an intangible coolness and creative edginess about it which the mainstream have always been unable to resist.
TB! > Side question…I have a couple shirts from you. What is the relevance of names on the tag at the bottom hem? And just really curious, why Stacy Peralta?
NTB! > The tag at the bottom hem changes every time we release a new line of product and is just a little nod to some of the people who have influenced us. When I first started skating in the late 80s it was all about Powell Peralta and The Bones Brigade and that’s why Stacy’s name appears on the tag.
TB! > I know you have t-shirts and hooded tops right now. What stuff should we except to see from you in the future lines? Any heavy cut-and-sew type stuff?
NTB! > We are working right now on extending the line and pretty soon you’ll be seeing fleeces, polo shirts, trousers and some jackets as well as a few accessories too.
TB! > Let’s talk about the manufacturing end of things. The last time we talked you had just gotten back from China doing some work with manufacturers. I know managing the manufacturing end of a limited-run label can be a nightmare… How has everything worked out for you guys so far? Any crazy issues that have come up?
NTB! > As yet we are lucky enough not to have had any crazy issues and let’s hope it stays that way. Fortunately the manufacturer we are working with specializes in high quality limited run streetwear and has an in depth understanding of the market which makes life easier and reduces the complications and nightmares that you always hear about. He also speaks fluent English which is a great help as my Cantonese and Mandarin are not too hot !
TB! > You seem to have some nice distribution in place…Union , The Reed Space in NYC, Fred Segal in LA and Colette to name a few. How did you get these in place? Do you have an agent or do you work hands on with buyers?
NTB! > We work directly with the buyers themselves which I think is preferable to using agents and we got Twelve Bar into the stores you have mentioned by meeting with the buyers and showing them the line. Whilst it is really easy these days to go out and screen print t-shirts, starting your own line and building a consistent brand is a whole different story and we are really grateful to all the stores that have supported Twelve Bar so far and helped us get going.
TB! > So now that you have your product in stores and things are moving… How do you keep the momentum? Seem like a lot of street wear companies have great launches but being successful long term, like Stussy, seems to be difficult. What do you plan to do different?
NTB! > Longevity is what everyone wants and is the hardest challenge for any brand. To keep the momentum going and to be successful in the long term we plan on staying focused on what we are doing and on maintaining a consistent brand image. Twelve Bar has a strong concept behind it and everyone involved has a genuine understanding and appreciation of the culture we are inspired by which we feel makes what we are doing different.
TB! > Off subject… The new LR3 or a Porsche Cayenne? Sushi or Fish and Chips? BlackBerry or Treo? Jay-Z or Nas? Perfect white beaches or the city?
NTB! > Cayenne although if you’d asked me if I prefer the new Range Rover my answer might have been different! Sushi (especially uni).
TB! > Where do you see Twelve Bar in the next 2-3 years?
NTB! > I hope to see Twelve Bar develop into a fully fledged credible apparel brand with a reputation for producing consistent high quality products with an emphasis on attention to detail.
TB! > I know you have done a few collaborations already… Anyone that is like a ‘dream’ collaboration?
NTB! > We actually haven’t done any collaborations yet but there is one in the pipeline with the Japanese photographer Yasumasa Yonehara (www.loveyone.com) which we are really excited about as he is an incredible talent and a real innovator. As for a dream collaboration, it would have to be Rolex and being given a chance to customize a Daytona!
TB! > Who do you admire right now in the street wear game? Who is doing their thing solid?
NTB! > Supreme are still holding it down and Uxa, Anything, Neighborhood and Bounty Hunter are definitely doing their thing.
TB! > Who is super wack? Feel free to name names, this industry loves drama.
NTB! > I don’t want to single anyone out but for me it’s all about being true to yourself. If you’re trying too hard to be cool or pretending to be into things that you’re not then that’s super wack and you get the gas face from us.
TB! > Favorite vacation spot?
NTB! > Buzios (a beautiful town a few hours up the coast from Rio De Janeiro)
TB! > Favorite websites? Your daily visits…
NTB! > The Brilliance (!!!) , Splay, Evil Monito, Freshness, Okay Player, Slam Hype, Rift Trooper, Lamjc, Hype Beast, Being Hunted, Ebay and The Most Influential.
TB! > Organize a show/concert with your five favorite artists.
NTB! > John Coltrane.
A Tribe Called Quest.
TB! > Favorite flavor taffy?
NTB! > Sour Apple.
TB! > Final thoughts go here, we like it random… Really, anything is cool, shout outs if you still do those, lyrics, whatever. Let them have it.
NTB! > First of all let’s do the shout outs - The one and only Dame Ca$h, Yuko The Amateur Dramatic, Boyz In The Wood, The Most Influential, Retail Mafia, Vapors, Lamjc, Warp, Huge, Complex, Streetwear Today, FTC, Union, The Reed Space, 852, AllIDo, Barely Breaking Even, Okay Player, YoYo, Restless Soul, Benji B, Seiji, Akiko Panda, Tsun, Testu & Dai.
Secondly for all those of you who like dim sum, there is nothing better than an ice cold Coke with your dumplings - sounds crazy but take my word for it.
Finally beware of actresses, Scorpio women and only children!
TB! > As always… What are your thoughts on THE BRILLIANCE?
NTB! > Keep on doing your thing and making it happen - you guys are ahead of the game.
TB! > Thanks for your time Nick! Stay up!
NTB! > Thank you for the love and the support. Peace.