As regular readers will know, we like to do what we can to promote emerging talent across all industries. For the past 8 months or so I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ben Cuervo, a very talented fashion graphic designer and good friend who is now putting all his energies into Innercity Clothing, a streetwear brand of his own making. I had a quick catch-up with him to discuss past, present and future.
(As a bit of a disclaimer, Ben expresses some opinions about various other brands – we would like to make it clear that these are solely the opinions of Ben and not necessarily shared by us at the Fold. We don’t want to upset anyone, or get sued. Ta!)
For those who may not know, tell us a bit about Innercity (how long you’ve been going, what you do, who your peer brands are etc).
Innercity is a brand new streetwear brand based in Bournemouth. We’ve been building it for the last year but we only launched with our first collection this summer; we took so long because we wanted everything to be right, no half-assed rush job! My partner-in-crime in making Innercity is Wayne Collins, who was the man behind Criminal Clothing. We’re very much picking up where he left off but with a heavier graphic element to the tees.
Given the large number of streetwear brands available to UK consumers, what do you feel sets you apart from the rest?
I think that us just doing what we like and making the best product we can is what set us apart. We’re not churning out stuff for profit; we’re doing what we love. Every tee, hood or whatever took me hours and all my thought and passion. All the big brands hire freelancers!
How can you design for one brand and yet design for 3 more at the same time? That’s why their product is all the same; I live what I design and wear my own designs every day so I have to be proud and believe in what I do. A freelancer doesn’t give a shit; it’s all about the money. Nuff said.
On a more personal note – how did you get into clothing and graphic design?
I did Graphics at the Arts Institute in Bournemouth; it was awesome! I stood out like a sore thumb with all those arty types but there were a few like-minded people in my class who encouraged me to get my head into it. I did okay, passed my degree then went off trying to freelance. After a while I came back to Bournemouth, worked in a studio for a bit doing normal graphic stuff then met Wayne and did a few tees with him for another brand that I went on to work for. It didn’t work out well so Wayne said that we can do this ourselves… so we did!
Tell us a bit more about your range.
The brand has two sections to it. There’s the old-school vintage range, which definitely has a hip hop theme, but its more 80’s and 90’s. Music I love! Just like everyone, music is a big influence in what I do. I wanted that vintage feel but without being cheesy, so we came with the old school vintage tip.
On the other side we have the streetwear tees which are just based on things I see every day and just life experiences that I’ve had. It’s not trying to be cool for being cool’s sake; if you don’t live it you won’t love it.
The material used in the t-shirts has a very unique, almost luxury feel to it for a street wear brand. Without giving away too many trade secrets, how do you achieve this effect?
We spent a lot of time and money getting this right; we custom-made every garment we sell from scratch and we use the best material we can. When we started, we decided that we wanted to go for quality not quantity and so we make our tees in Europe. That way we can keep everything under control and make sure it’s the best it can be; they are without doubt the best quality streetwear tees out there. All you have to do is try one on and you will see; the fit, the fabric, the detail… it’s the bollocks!
Is there any advice you would give to budding designers or indeed anyone that wants to set up their own business?
Yes, I’ve read loads of books about entrepreneurs and now having started a business myself there two thing I would say. Firstly, you have to start. Trust me, this is harder than it sounds! I started thanks to Wayne and a year later we have a brand in the shops, but a year is a long time; you need the stomach for it. Secondly, do the things you have to do even when you don’t want to. That is also hard but you can never put anything off in this game.
We would like to thank Ben for his time and wish him all the best in the future – keep your eyes peeled for Innercity/Threefold collabs in the future! Innercity is available from these fine outlets:
James & James
So go and fill your boots. Alternatively, catch them here or on Facebook.