How an unrelenting passion for functionality, utility and constant collaboration has created explosive growth for the Vancouver-based accessories brand — while never losing sight of the core values, kinship and inspiration that got them started. As we step foot into the Herschel Supply headquarters in Vancouver’s Railtown neighbourhood, we’re greeted by a waft of distinct new office smell. You can tell that the red ribbon was recently cut. It is certainly impressive — swaths of white marble and subway tile, an expansive boardroom, grand lighting installations by the inimitable Bocci and sweeping views of the Port of Vancouver and North Shore Mountains in the background. The type of stylish people you would expect buzz around the office, but the sheer number of them is surprising. It feels full of energy, youth, and promise. It’s clear that we’re amongst a company that is doing big things, and we’re here to gather some insight into how and why.
In just 6 short years, Herschel Supply Company has become a ubiquitous sight at the retail and street level — a successful player in the global accessories market. Founded by brothers Jamie and Lyndon Cormack, they’ve translated their passion for simple and functional design into a multi-million dollar company with stockists in over 70 countries.
During our tour, we learned that they have about 150 staff members, mostly working in their Vancouver offices on the design, development, sales, marketing, and operations of the company. It’s a fun and tight crew and it’s immediately apparent that the culture of collaboration and mutual respect extends well beyond the brothers steering the ship. It is, in fact, at the very core of the company. Chances are you’ve seen a Herschel bag or two during your travels; just about anyone and everyone carries them. From high school classrooms to high-powered boardrooms, they’ve created a brand that is simultaneously accessible and adaptable to the styles and sensibilities of people of all creeds. It’s the kind of market saturation, while still retaining credibility that any brand strives to attain.
In the early days, the brand focused on producing a few core silhouettes of backpacks and duffle bags — simple, well-designed basics that were lacking in the marketplace at the time. This was a conscious decision: there were a number of brands making nice product on the entry level and luxury tiers, but few thoughtfully designed and easy-to-carry pieces at the middle point of the market. It turned out to be a wise decision, as consumers quickly took to the heritage design cues, considered material choices, and refreshing sense of minimalism. As the brand grew, Herschel has steadily and carefully expanded its product range to include duffels, messengers, pouches, wallets, totes and packs of all sizes, shapes, and materials. Recently they’ve expanded with a forthcoming apparel line of packable rain and wind resistant outerwear slated for a release later this year. Despite the large product line, it’s not hard to connect the dots – the core values of travel, utility and functional design are apparent across their entire product range.
Another key theme for the brand is collaboration — they’ve worked with everyone from respected textile producers Liberty London and GORE-TEX, footwear brands Clarks and New Balance, and retail bastions Colette and BEAMS to global juggernauts including Coca-Cola, Disney and Major League Baseball. From a strategic standpoint, it creates an effortless sense of elevation to the brand by placing Herschel inside coveted doors and in front of tastemakers worldwide. The most notable aspect of the brand is the undercurrent of kinship and collaboration permeating throughout every aspect of what they do. These people genuinely like working together and truly enjoy their jobs. It starts with the brothers themselves, and carries down through the leadership team to the wider staff, suppliers and customers. It’s a truly inspiring way to do business and results in tangible rewards.
We spoke to Jamie and Lyndon Cormack to learn more about what makes Herschel distinct, how they got their start, their core values as a company and what drives their decisions as leaders of a quickly growing brand with an increasingly global mindset.
What is Herschel Supply Company in 2017?
Lyndon: We’re a well-established accessories brand that sells our products globally. We sell in over 70 countries across 10,000 retailers. We’ve spent the greater part of the last 6 years establishing the brand and establishing a DNA. A lot of where Jamie and I started the brand and where the brand is now has remained constant: designing simple and modern utility products. That stays true today and remains one of our guiding principles for the brand. How do we keep simple? How do we maintain a sense of utility and functionality? How do we look to the past for inspiration?
We often look at classic and timeless brands that have stood the test of time. How do we bring those ideas, thoughts and products into the modern world? Our goal is to deliver an experience that is aligned with what the end consumer needs and wants to carry, what they want their products to do for them and support wherever they’re going. The brand is built on that vision of simplicity, utility and modernity.
Can you talk about your specific roles?
L: Because we’re brothers, we look at each other strangely (laughs).
Jamie: We split our roles. I look after design, production, graphic design. We share a role in marketing.
L: I focus on sales and operations. I work closely with our online, finance and retail teams. Jamie and I share marketing. Really, we look at marketing as our voice and who we are. One of the reasons why we share it is that whether it’s on a sales, operations, product or graphic design front, it’s what we’re trying to tell people. Whether we’re selling product or celebrating design, we feel that we need to be in lockstep as to what that voice is so that it’s really clear for everybody. That’s what we do and conveniently enough, we have amazing leaders in each one of those sections of the business. It sounds like it could be exhausting — which it is from time to time — but we have amazing people leading each of those departments and they have great teams that work with them. It’s definitely a lighter touch for us in a lot of aspects of the business. A perfect example is finance. My grade 12 education doesn’t really help our chartered accountant, they can figure it out better than how we could (laughs).
J: I think more than anything it is collaborative. The communication is so open between us and so quick. The nice thing about being brothers is that we trust each other so much that I know Lyndon is getting the job done upstairs and he knows I’m getting it done downstairs. If there is something that I want to bounce off with him, he can answer quickly and so can I. That has helped the business.
You’re probably not afraid to yell at each other.
J: That’s the biggest thing. We don’t candy coat it.
L: From day one, this has been the most consistent thing with us. Jamie can hold something up and say, “What do you think about this?” and I’ll just say, “I think it looks like shit.” And he’ll be like, “Yeah you’re probably right.” Or he might argue and I might see it differently. But the nice thing is that if he puts something amazing out, I’ll say, “Fuck man that’s going to hit it out of the park.” We’re not faking it. I think that for a rapidly growing company, that’s been really helpful. And we actually get along. Last night we didn’t have dinner together, but the goal was to have dinner together. It’s family first still. Even though we work together every day, we still want to take our work hats off and talk about things like surfing, trips, architecture and our families.
It’s super important to have that lack of pretence.
L: Yeah it helps a lot. Partnerships in general tend to be challenging, and when you throw family into the middle of it, it can potentially fail. But Jamie and I are brothers and best friends before business partners. It seems like we work it out pretty well. It’s not like we don’t have disagreements, but they are pretty short lived and usually because I’ve done something to fuck it up (laughs). At the end of the day, it’s pretty good.
Let’s talk about core values. What would you say they are for the brand?
L: One thing we do really well is that we’re honest. We are who we are and we’re not who we’re not. I think we have the ability to be something we’re not and we hold back a lot. We ask, “What is this brand? What is our voice? What do we want to do?” We believe wholeheartedly in innovation — it’s an overused word that everybody talks about, but our appetite for change and for constantly creating new and evolving ideas is extremely important. We believe in agency and collaboration; coming together on ideas to create something meaningful. Creating mutually beneficial relationships, whether that be with our customers, our vendors or our staff. We pride ourselves on being easy to do business with. Unfortunately this isn’t always an easy thing, but it’s a guiding beacon for us. How can we be easier to work with? What can we do to help us be a company that people want to do business with? We spend a lot of time and effort on that.
J: One of the things we talk most about around here is showing up properly. We talk about it all the time. When we started the brand, we both had over 10 years of agency experience each. We’ve seen so many companies just not show up right on different levels: on the front end of the business and the back end. If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right. Let’s show up properly.
“Our goal is to deliver an experience that is aligned with what the end consumer needs and wants to carry, what they want their products to do for them, and support wherever they’re going. The brand is built on that vision of simplicity, utility, and modernity.”
How did your past experiences shape Herschel?
J: I owned an agency that worked with K2 Sports, primarily in the winter business. We also represented about 18 different brands. I watched a lot of those brands do a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong. Those lessons and those relationships were a critical aspect of shaping Herschel. I took everything that was positive and channeled that energy into our brand. We know where we started; we came up with this idea about 9 years ago and brought it to market 7 years ago. At that time it was a little bit more heritage and Americana driven but every single day since then, it’s about not being comfortable, not being relaxed and continuously pushing our limits and staying out of our comfort zone.
We want to put things to market that feel different, that challenge the status quo and push things forward. That’s what is so exciting for us. When we come in here, we’re in charge. We’ve done every aspect of the business, all while remaining profitable, and we’ve put all that money back into the business. We want to push this business forward. Where we are today isn’t going to make us happy tomorrow. We invest in the best systems, put the best people in place. We want our people to continue to innovate. I think we have the opportunity to do something truly special.
How do these core values apply to your product mix?
J: When we talk about core values for product, functionality and value is at the centre of what we strive for. Everything has to be functional, and it has to have value. That’s what we talk about all the time — why are we bringing this to market? I think we’re one of the best when it comes to this process. We think about every feature. Where we want to start, where we want to finish and how do we build that and why do we need it? I think we’re really talented as a team at getting to the core of every piece that we make. I think our product mix feels right. We have less than 1,500 SKUs over 14 categories, but each piece has been put through this critical process and weighed against our standards. From headwear to tech, travel to apparel, we look at each as a separate bucket and think critically about how we would look if we specialized in just that category. How would we look if we were a travel company? Who are our competitors within that category? Everything goes through the ringer.
L: We focus on every detail, whether it’s the space that we work in or the way that an invoice goes out to a customer or how our ERP functions. We strive to get these details right, sweating over them. It’s easier to see when it comes to the product itself, but this attention to detail weaves through every aspect of the business. We’re doing a good job of it now, but we’ll get better at it in the future.
J: I think the big thing is knowing who we are. We set this up to be scalable and be global. We are inspired by so many different people out there in fashion, accessories and footwear. We set this up and we’re doing what our plan was from day one. That’s pretty exciting! When we first started the brand, it’s not like we just wanted to sell the most premium bag on the market as that space was pretty full. We didn’t see a hole in that space. It was in the middle part of the market that there was a huge gap. If people didn’t have the money to buy that high end bag, there just wasn’t a ton of brands that hit that spot in the market.
How about now? Are you trying to make product that hits a more high-end consumer?
J: I think more it’s just the ability to do it, whether it be Apex Knit¹ or fabrics in general. Now that we’re in this space, we have the ability to do something pretty special. I look at the market in general, while some people are pushing it on the fashion side or on the alpine side, there is not a ton of innovation in the bag space. You look at a category like footwear — it’s the fastest turning category in the world — and I’m inspired by how fast those guys have to move. You look at things like running or basketball and how tech those categories are, it just inspires us. We can’t sleep! We first saw Apex Knit at the Portland footwear show, and we had one of those “wouldn’t-it-be-cool-if” moments. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could build a bag out of this? So we did.
L: In relation to the tiered aspect of our business, we always go back to the honesty of “we are who we are and we’re not who we’re not.” We don’t want price to dictate our distribution, which is something I’ve drawn from my 10 years at Vans. Vans can be sold from high to low, all day long. Converse can be sold from high to low all day long. I think what sets those brands aside is that they are true classics. They get utility right.
The easy thing for us would be to just make something crazy. We know all the rules to capture a streetwear or luxury fashion consumer: crazy high-end materials, gold-plated hardware, the flashiest thing. But we’ve realized that the only way we should make something like that is if it makes sense to our brand. We just want to focus on making a great product that stands the test of time. A complementary item, something classic and basic. One of my favourite bags in our range is $40 retail. I’m often going to the most beautiful stores around the world during my travels, but that’s the bag I’m taking. And I’m probably wearing adidas, Nike or Vans on my feet while I’m doing it. Classics are classics for a reason. As we continue to grow and put years on the brand, the timeless aspect will come further into fruition. We’ve been doing this for a long time and we know what works. We want to be known as the brand that gets basics right. We want to celebrate who we are and work with brands who align with that.
Is it tough to stay inspired as you grow?
J: I think it gets easier. Now that we have more opportunities and we’ve become experts in understanding our consumer, more doors open on the partnership side and we build more relationships with inspiring people around the world. There are so many talented people under this roof and everyone is allowed to have a say in what we do and the decisions we make. We don’t have some huge company standing over us, telling us what to do. We’re able to move incredibly fast. We’re able to do pretty much anything we are inspired to do.
L: Inspiration comes from being engaged. We are active and alive in the market; we’re travelers, we love fashion and product. As much as I wouldn’t call us a fashion brand, we’re still inspired by it. We didn’t get in the business to make money, we got in the business to do what we love — creating products and creating ideas.
As you enter more categories, what is your strategy to maintain momentum and brand equity without compromising the brand image?
L: From day one, we had the opportunity to make just about anything we wanted. We just kept saying no. One of my favorite stories involves the Apple Store. We sold to them for many years, on every shelf worldwide. The buyer from Apple kept asking us, “Why don’t you make phone cases? You’re the only vendor that hasn’t shown us a phone case.” We thought about this and decided that we just don’t know how to make it that much different or better, so we said no. We’re just going to stay experts in our category and not try to extend ourselves. We didn’t want to get caught in the trap of doing too much; let’s be specialists, let’s get really good at what we’re going to do. And once we get to that point, then we can start expanding our product mix.
We feel like we’re starting to get to that point where we can spread our wings a little bit more. We’re able to start applying our DNA to new categories. And when we do, we’ll take an extremely in-depth look and conduct a ton of research before we put anything to market. We need to get it right, go into new categories with thunder. Always have a clear path and a clear plan, and do it right. So now as we enter into apparel, headwear and luggage, we’re super meticulous about how we roll out to ensure that we’re bringing something fresh to the market.
Let’s talk about your upcoming apparel line.
L: We’re starting off with some rainwear, as well as some packable windwear. It’s really exciting but a lot of work. We’re really glad that we have a lot of people on the team with a background in this area. We’ve shown the collection to our key customers and the reception has been great. It will be coming out in Spring 2017.
How do you attract talent to the team?
J: It all boils down to fit and mutual respect. A few of our key people worked together with us before we started the brand, and we both knew that when the time was right, we’d work together again with Herschel.
L: When you share a love for design and a passion for product, you gravitate towards one another.
J: We’ve had relationships with these guys for quite a while. We’ve always said that the door is open when the timing is right. When you work well with people, you tend to stick together. And when the door did open, it just worked out. We always want to hire great people — it’s the biggest thing! We surround ourselves with great people and great things happen.
L: The people who work for us now have been pioneers in their industries for years and that’s what we want for Herschel. It’s a small world, really.
What makes them stick with you?
J: It’s a super fun place to work. They say it all the time: they’re excited when they come to work. The term collaboration gets thrown around a lot, but in our case it’s actually happening. Nobody in here has an ego. Everybody just wants to get it done and have fun doing it. It doesn’t feel like a big company in this sense.
Collaboration is a big deal internally. But what about with other brands? What are some of your favorite projects you’ve been involved in?
L: My favourite collaboration was one of our very first Stüssy projects, called Stüssy Tom Tom. We took original deadstock Stüssy fabric — the Tom Tom print — from their warehouse in California and did a small run of 150 bags. We grew up as such huge fans of Stüssy, it was really awesome to be able to work with them. We’ve since done about 15 projects with them, but this first one was the most exciting for me.
J: It’s cool to be able to work with friends. We sit down and come up with an idea together, not just the product but also how we can bring it to market. We did a small collection where we sponsored the Huntington Beach High School surf team together with Stüssy — we made board sleeves, shot a whole lookbook and produced a small collection of pieces. Stüssy is always great because they act like a small company and move really fast.
More recently, we had a really cool opportunity to work with GORE (makers of GORE-TEX). They produce some of my favourite fabrics, so it was a really cool opportunity to work with them on the headwear capsule we produced. We’re also getting ready to drop a 7 piece collection for WTAPS. It’s been about a year and 8 months to get it off the ground — we’ll be dropping the collection in July.
How did the MLB collaboration come about?
J: We’ve been approached by a number of sports teams and organizations over the years, and we just felt like it would be a good fit for us.
L: Initially I was having a meeting at the MLB office in New York and we couldn’t get the global license for the United States, just the rest of the world. Having the US would’ve been nice for baseball product (laughs), but we forged ahead and released a Yankees and Dodgers collection in Canada and Europe. It did really well so we followed up with a Toronto Blue Jays capsule, which was also a hit. Now we have the global license for MLB product and will be releasing packable backpacks and duffle bags for every single team. We’ll not only sell them at lifestyle stores, but also at the ballparks. They want better brands and better experiences for the fans, so we focused on attainable products that fans will want to carry. But it still has the Herschel DNA, which is really important to us.
What is the Vancouver flagship going to mean for the brand?
L: It will be our first solely-owned store. We have about 40 Herschel-branded stores that are done in partnership with our distributors in Asia, Paris and Milan all ranging from 400 to 1,500 square feet. But our Vancouver store will be the first that we have total control over. It will be about 5,000 square feet, at the top of Water Street in the historic Gastown neighbourhood. We’ve commissioned Omer Arbelto design the store interior. It’s not only going to be a great showcase for our products, but also a place to experience the brand. We care about architecture, design and details — the new store is going to be a place where we can show the world more of our interests and who we are. It’s in the early stages of design now, and will be opening in early 2017.
J: It’s an opportunity to control how we tell our story, how we merchandise our products. I think it’s going to feel a lot different than what people are used to. We want to do something that stands out on a global level.
Where do you see Herschel in 5 years?
L: A lot more diverse. A lot more robust. We’re in the early stages of opening our new Shanghai office, which will also open in early 2017. This is going to give us much more global access. In this industry, 5 years seems like a lifetime; things are moving so quickly. There’s going to be a lot of new products and stories to share, but we’re going to be doing the same thing at the core: products designed for today. As a company, we embrace change. We want change to happen. We want newness and the excitement of the future. We read and hear so much about how people are freaked out by what the future holds. We say, bring it on. Let’s hang on, embrace it and change with it.
J: We’re becoming experts in every department, from product to design to operations. I see us continuing to grow, continuing to hone our craft. We want to drive the industry, be the best in class. In order to achieve this, we’re going to continue to invest in the business, implement new systems and stay ahead of the curve. Lot’s of people and companies get complacent — we want to continue to grow and to push the industry forward.
Your investment arm has recently made some moves, gaining a minority position in Need Supply and acquiring Seattle/NYC-based fashion retailer Totokaelo. What does this mean for the brand?
L: This came up with Need Supply being one of our first customers in America. We’ve always loved what they’ve done on a sales, editorial and storytelling level. The opportunity came for us to be able to invest with the founders of the company to help their growth and it has been really successful. That partnership over the past year has allowed Need Supply to almost double sales in a tough market, and it keeps growing. The opportunity with Totokaelo came through our relationship with Need Supply. We’re now owners of Totokaelo, and Need Supply is operating the front and back-end of the business alongside the key members of the Totokaelo team. Both these brands are shops that we really respect and are inspired by, so to be a part of them is really great. It’s high-level and not our day to day — we’re still focused on Herschel. The bonus of getting involved in these companies is that we get to surround ourselves with really great people and great brands.
After our conversation with Jamie and Lyndon, we also had the opportunity to spend time with Jon Warren and Kenta Goto – key members of Herschel’s senior design team and respected individuals within the industry. We focused on their thoughts regarding design and product, what led them to Herschel and what it’s like to work at such a fast-moving, rapidly growing company.
What attracted you to work to Herschel?
Jon Warren: When I first got to Vans, it was very much like Herschel. There was a lot of very cool, creative people that came from the culture. Our job was to redefine product through culture. What I found was that as the brand got bigger and bigger, it got harder and harder to hold on to that culture. When I met Jamie and Lyndon, they both grew up in a similar culture to myself, whether it be skateboarding, BMX or music references. The philosophy that we shared was this idea that great design doesn’t have to be expensive. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of doing great design at an affordable price, making things that are desirable but not out of reach. When we grew up skateboarding, I’d go out to clubs in New York or London and you’d have fashion people hanging out with hip-hop people and graffiti artists — it was a really great mix of culture that made things special. It wasn’t about money, it was this blending of high and low. That’s what still gets me excited.
When Jamie first approached me, the first question I asked him was, “Are you just going to be a backpack brand?” If the answer was yes, then I didn’t want to be a part of it. His answer was no; he wanted it to be more about the lifestyle as opposed to a backpack company. That shift in thought was what really turned me onto the idea of working at Herschel. Most people can’t get past product. At the end of the day, nobody needs to make anything new — I feel that the world has enough product. You need to buy into something bigger than just product. To sell the idea of travel and exploring: if we can be that thing that helps you get to where you want to go, it’s really cool to be a part of it. You’re part of somebody’s journey. It’s crazy, these kids go out and they take photos of their travels and they show their friends. Your product is there but they’re not telling the story of the bag, they’re telling the story of their adventure. To be a part of that and a part of culture is an amazing thing.
Kenta Goto: It’s the same for me as well. I didn’t buy in to just working for a backpack company; this is a brand that wants to create culture around it. There is a culture inside this office, and then there is a culture that we portray and participate in and outside of these walls. That’s what really drew me in. The company is young, ambitious and has plans. Decisions are made quickly. The speed that this brand moves is astonishing. It’s really exciting to be a part of that fast growth.
Speed is a consistent theme here.
K: They give you all the resources to be successful. I’ve worked with smaller companies and with bigger companies, and on either spectrum it is very hard to move. Small companies are lacking in resources and their budgets are small. Bigger companies are hard to move because of multiple layers of the company that you have to go through to have any decision get made. Herschel is still a tight, family-run group that just moves.
JW: It’s not just decision making, it’s with product prototyping as well. We have a full rapid prototyping setup here at the office. We can take a shitty sketch, give measurements to the fabrication team and get something made right here in house. We’re then able to make adjustments, create a tech pack and then have samples produced here in Vancouver, before sending a full sample to the manufacturers overseas.
That must really cut back on the back-and-forth.
JW: Really it’s a return to doing things by hand. For me it was always about that punk-rock mentality of DIY. Sending off CADs to China is not punk (laughs). Here it’s tactile, we’re actually touching the fabrics, draping, and putting bags on people. How does it hang? What does it look like? We can literally have a complete bag built within a day. It’s mental.
K: No matter how clean and clear your tech packs are, there is always something that gets lost in translation between here and overseas. To be able to prototype it here, create a sample locally and then send a sample to the factory is amazing.
How does bag and accessory design compare to footwear and apparel?
JW: It’s not like people are lining up for backpacks like they might line up for a sneaker release. This is another thing that really interests me. We have the ability to come into a marketplace that is wide open. We’re defining what we want to be and not having to follow anyone. There’s no Nike, no adidas, no Apple to be looking at and saying, “This is who we’re trying to chase.”
But there are other brands making bags.
JW: There’s no one that we’re really holding ourselves against. You have outdoor bags, which are pure performance, but that’s not who we are as people. I don’t hike at all, ever. It’s more about assessing how a bag or backpack is going to function in a modern way. Our goal is to make better product for a more modern environment and a modern consumer. We’re more about taking shit off than putting shit on.
K: We want to be that brand that helps people define or express their character through their product, similar to the way sneakers function. It defines what kind of mood you’re in or who you are. Jackets and sneakers do that more than any item, but we want to be a brand that helps define and express your character. The person that is carrying it helps elevate the brand and the product.
JW: It’s such a cool thing. You don’t realize how much you actually use a bag until you work for a bag company (laughs). When we travel, we’re using all of it. And we’re trying to make it better. Every season we tear apart our entire lineup of bags to try and find out what we can do better. What went wrong? What can we improve on? We’re constantly tuning the pattern, adjusting the components. It’s really freeing as a designer to have the ability to constantly hone your craft and improve your work.
Collaboration is a big theme at Herschel.
JW: We’re young guys (laughs), trying to do something together. That’s the cool thing. I come from footwear and Kenta comes from apparel, now we’re working together. It’s super interesting. Mutual respect is a big thing. All of our years of experience, we all look at things differently but there is always mutual respect. It’s a great place for creativity. You can see how this balance plays out in your product mix. You’ve got big, lofty collaboration pieces with brands like Coca-Cola and then you’ve got the core product that provides the foundation.
JW: When we were talking about Coca-Cola, we were talking about the ’80s when you would travel and you’d see all these different Coke signs in all the different languages. The logos on the collaboration bag are from the late ’80s and Coke let us dig into their archives, which was really cool. But what was even cooler was that we were able to actually make the fabric out of recycled Coke bottles. We really thought it through. We didn’t just want to slap the logos on it; we wanted to incorporate the Herschel DNA into it.
How does this work with the younger employees at Herschel?
KG: We’re in our early 40s, so we’re the elders in the group. We have people here in their mid-twenties who are so talented and eager to learn. Everyone has a different take on what we’re doing. We’re doing a project with Keith Haring’s artwork and some of these young cats don’t even know who he is (laughs). But we get to introduce them to his work. On the flipside, we’re often asking them about what new music there is and they’re introducing us to the craziest shit. It’s a great thing.
What was it like when you were coming up?
JW: We come from a time where counter-culture was looked down upon. We had to make everything ourselves; we screen-printed our own shirts, we made our own stores, we did a lot of things because we had to. There was no industry, there was no money in what we did. We were the first generation to come up and actually make money doing what we loved. What’s cool about it now is that kids remix things that were so defined in our day. If you were punk, you were punk. If you were metal, you were metal. If you were hip-hop, you were hip-hop. Now these kids come together from all these cultures, and that’s the cool thing happening now. Jules Gayton, Kenta and I talk about this all the time – when we stop being interested in it, then it’s time for us to bow out.
What’s it like working for the Cormack brothers?
JW: You’ve got the yin and yang and that’s what makes it work. You’ve got Lyndon, who’s the dreamer. He’ll come in with a ton of ideas. And then you’ve got Jamie who’s like, “Ok, that one’s no good. That one actually has merit but it’ll need to be worked on. This one I can make right away.” You can see that one brother will make the dream come true and the other one is generating all kinds of ideas. Together, there’s that perfect yin-yang scenario. You can’t have two dreamers or two realists.
K: Lyndon is the big picture guy, the big dreamer, and Jamie is all about the detail. It’s such a good balance. They totally butt heads, argue and fight for their sides, but at the end of the day, they respect each other so much.