KULT is a UK brand specialising in t-shirt design, it stands out amongst the rest with their edgy and rebellious designs. Established in May 2011 the brand is still relatively new but doing remarkably well.
Your t-shirt designs are edgy, humorous and definitely stand out amongst the rest. What inspired you to start KULT?
My idea for KULT when I first started publicising designs and ideas through a newly established social feed, the reaction I gained was very positive and the gathering flourished as I released my first swatch set of symbols and patterns later that month. Now, the idea has grown, and matured within itself, with my starting being very much a hobby turning into a business I suppose I didn’t ever set out to establish a ‘business’. The idea behind KULT now is very much that of Anti-Censorship, I am thoroughly against it, the whole Victorian society which the UK and other parts of the world seem to be stuck within is incredibly infuriating, those important problems which ‘cannot’ be discussed because of their risqué or inappropriate nature, things as simple as sexual health with teenagers! I want it to be a mass-marketing underground machine that establishes a foothold on the industry, whilst staying true to these roots and morals. Even if one person feels changed by the brand – I’d be happy.
Can you remember your first design, tell us about it?
My first design or designs I should say were simply straight-edged symbols, often religious, integrated with a swatch system of animal, space and various other prints that people were able to customise and select with their order. People loved it, the choice and the difference and at such a student-friendly cost! Bringing something that was simple and new to people was key, I think, in the initial development of KULT.
Before KULT what was your background?
Well, during the ‘birth’ of KULT as an idea, I was preparing to sit my GCSE exams at secondary school – it was hard to juggle the two at first, but I got used to it as my exams came and passed fairly quickly, and I still achieved great grades. To some extent I’m still juggling that, I’m at full-time college now, about to sit my final A-level exams, so it’s very much rush home and manufacturing garments, then shipping the next morning right before college – any free time I get is spent manufacturing garments for my customers. I see this as my ‘hard work’ to set me and my business up for a (hopefully) bright future in the fashion industry.
Your designs are full of sexual innuendo, how do you maintain that happy medium between humour and being offensive?
I try to stay as neutral as possible with the designs, for which I mean I don’t stereotype or discriminate against certain parties. I state the offense, yet go no further. It was this offensive nature that I believe link well with the teenage market because of their tendency to adopt to anything that allows them to express or rebel either within themselves or on their exterior. I believe that shock of the first look at some of my garments is either enough to entice and pull people in to loving the brand, or push them away for good. Which to me is great as it allows the brand to build a very loyal and loving following – it’s those people who will shape my future. Of course, new custom is very important too, but I believe that there is a lot of potential for KULT in the coming months and years. I have a lot up my sleeve.
What is the message you want to send out to your target audience through your designs?
As I mentioned previously, anti-censorship is very much my passion and that’s extended through my brand. I also don’t like propaganda and the sensationalism of the media. I don’t like how they almost celebrate disasters around the world, setting the viewers up to think “Oh, I’ll go out and do one worse on that!” – it’s these morally weak and almost mentally unstable individuals who do not wish to end their lives alone as a nobody, that push themselves to believe that it is OK for them to commit a mass-homicide in order for their name and legacy to be built around them in seconds by the media. I want people to feel as if by seeing or wearing my garments, they are able to discuss – hell – even THINK about ideas and notions which people or even they themselves deem as something they are not allowed to think about. It’s very much “F*ck Big Brother!” when it comes to my brand.
Do you think engaging with your customer via social media channels is important in pushing your brand forward?
Very important, absolutely imperative to a successful brand identity. The social feeds express not only your brands identity, but yours. The interaction and pleasantness with customers is crucial, I for one love to interact and discuss hot and trending topics with my customers via my social feeds. It is not simply a place to display your new products or ideas, but also to ensure that your customers are having their say and engaging with morals and news you put forward to them. Don’t get me wrong, I think word of mouth is also very important, as I have physically witnessed my items being discussed or seen the small ‘outbreaks’ of groups of friends ordering from the same area around the country – building their own KULTs (Pardon the pun, ha!).
Interviewed by Katie Handy-Beith