HAVANA CLUB X PAUSE MEETS:
Collaborating with Havana Club,
we talk with GRAMM about creativity and success.
Concept: Urban Nerds // @urbannerds
Produced & Edited: Ayshe Zaifoglu // @azcaptures
Directed & Mixed: Louis Lincoln // @louislincoln
Shot: Jed Darlington-Roberts // @jed_dr
Interview: Lynn Moyo // @mongamelii
Photograpy: Ayshe Zaifoglu // @azcaptures
Featuring: AK Williams // @Gramm.
Special thanks to Havana Club
“I’ve got a plan and the plan hasn’t changed from day one.”
While other brands and labels covert social media and the gratification of going viral, Manchester-based streetwear label GRAMM, stands in a lane of its own as a brand that’s worried more about its design than its mainstream appeal.
Founded as an answer to a lack of options in personal style, AK Williams has taken GRAMM from a personal project in his bedroom at his parent’s house to a streetwear label and creative collection that now reaches far beyond Manchester. A cerebral thinker, Williams is driven by his ideals and beliefs, ones that would see him turn down mainstream opportunities that he doesn’t think to align with his brand. With a penchant determination to create to from the soul rather than trends, its no surprise GRAMM has soared to success.
With a heritage born out of Cuban street culture, and a growing following in the UK, Havana Club have launched a program to give a little something back to the scene. By continually collaborating with up- and- coming talent from a variety of disciplines, the rum brand are providing a platform for rising stars to develop their craft. The recent partnership with Jevon is a continuation from their projects with Rapper Skinny Malone & Designer Mia Joseph.
We spoke with GRAMM’s founder AK, see what he had to say below:
Starting from the beginning, what sparked your interest in fashion?
AK: I wouldn’t say I’ve got an interest in fashion. I more started making clothes for myself because I wasn’t happy with what was out there, so I used to look in shops and other places but I wasn’t inspired by anything. So I just thought I’d move away from consumerism like that, for like a year or two years I only wore a white t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms. I have never really been into branded clothing, so my interest in fashion; I wouldn’t say it’s there but I do like clothes but I wouldn’t say I’m into the whole fashion culture and the fashion scene, to be honest.
So because you couldn’t find the stuff you wanted in-store, you figured you’d make it yourself?
AK: Yup. And my intention wasn’t to then start a business on the back of that, that was just for me personally.
With that being said, how do you stay creative and deal with the pressure of having to always better yourself creatively?
AK: To keep me creative, I have to be around creative people, so that helps a lot. But when it comes to designs I’m not too fussed but I think having a creative energy and creative conversations with people helps a lot.
And you don’t feel any pressures with social media?
AK: Not really, there are always pressures in business-like thinking am I going to be able to get my collections out on time but with social media, I think if I didn’t have GRAMM I don’t think I would be on social media, I have to use it because it’s a major tool of the business but I think if you see it for what it is, you don’t let it affect you, it’s only when you get sucked into it that it can be a problem, forcing you to do things you didn’t want to do or making designs you didn’t want to do because you’ve gone onto someone else’s Instagram and they’ve done something similar and they’ve got fifty-thousands likes and you’re thinking they must have the formula because if they’re doing that then I have to do that because they’re getting all this love. But it’s not like that, you should see stuff, appreciate it and keep it moving and stick to your own plan.
Definitely, and I think that’s a great message because it’s so easy to get drawn into somebodies lifestyle on social media. But where do you get the confidence from, to do your own thing, and put your designs out into the world for everyone to critique?
AK: I don’t know. I’ve got a plan and the plan hasn’t changed from day one. I don’t think I’ll ever deviate away from the plan, and I don’t see GRAMM being this business that’s huge, global with fifteen million followers. That’s not what I want for the brand if that makes sense.
And the age-old question. What is next?
AK: Well we’ve got this new studio collection and we now have a club night on Saturdays in Manchester, and we’re going to go back to Paris Fashion Week this summer and showcase our new collection. Paris is our second biggest audience so it makes sense to go over there.