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Hey, Adelaide setters we are here today with Isaac Edward who owns the brand
Will: So Isaac what are some of the things that you have been up too in the last
of years? What is your background?
Isaac: So my background is art, painting and drawing. The love of colour, the love
play of line and just exploring what you can do with art and really connecting
with people through art.
Will: So I have known you since school and I remember you had another brand
with Scott Sandford called KSW. Why do you love designing streetwear and
fashion so much?
Isaac: I think for Scott and I, it is really interesting how it started, we were
night about how I was painting up things but our mates didn’t really have houses
that could hang up art; he was doing design and we were wondering how we could
connect to people our age. So we decided “hey what if we could do fashion and
it’s something that people our age could respond and connect with rather then
charging $500 for a canvas that no one could afford.” It started with how to
connect our art to people with something they can interact with and with KSW
we really explored that together.
It was that kind of classic situation where we had no idea what we were getting
ourselves into, there were so many things we didn’t know but it was this
interesting process of going through and figuring out “okay what’s the retail
scene in Adelaide”, what’s online sales and also kind of the idea of how to market
a brand and how to market products. For me, it was a kind of beautiful process
and it was great working together. We finished up that brand, both of us were
busy with other things and after a while, I started to miss it! I wanted to get
back into it, I wanted to be designing clothes I wanted to do exciting things and I
couldn’t really help myself and that’s how SwordsandCotton started!
Will: I was disappointed when you stopped KSW but I think you have gone beyond the restraints with SwordsandCotton. What would you say is your mission statement?
Isaac: I guess it’s an evolution and really it’s spearheaded by myself so I can be a lot more singular. It really comes down to communication for me! As an artist creating this as a project and offshoot of my art, to me its visual communication and written communication. The mission statement is to have a dialogue with hip hop and the fashion scene, particularly in Adelaide, to help provoke thought!
Will: Certainly, that is important to me to find that combination of culture and meaning. On that subject, what is the meaning behind SwordsAndCotton?
Isaac: I think it’s really important to have meaning behind what you do! I take it seriously and I don’t really appreciate if something is vague and superficial; if it’s just baseless images that don’t really connect to a deeper meaning. The idea behind the brand is about the idea of fighting hard for something but peaceful. The perfect example is boxer Mohammed Ali. So he was a boxer but he didn’t take part in the war and didn’t believe in violence without a cause. Yes, he was a boxer and a fighter but truly he only fought for what he believed in, and with SwordsandCotton inbuilt into the branding is a message about knowing what you want to fight for but doing it smart, in a smart way and in a peaceful way.
Will: That’s cool. We totally understand that we are committed that you need to be aggressive in a place like Adelaide!
So moving into the process. What is the design process for making a nice hoodie, T-shirt or jewellery?
Issac: It all starts with the hand drawing. A lot of people might start with a programme or importing an Image or even from a font that is pre-existing.
What I like to do is to start with hand has drawn images and to work with what the colour scheme might be what the lines might be and what the images and how they can connect with the text. From there I work up from a process. So If I have a capsule coming up I will try and design the entire line with a cohesive element of design running through and a certain cohesive concept of thought as well.
With our recent line “Somnium” there was the concept of dreams. Throughout it there are motifs that relate to playing the game. For instance, the visual motif of the king with the sword and the king's heart is about again the classic idea to the brand of fighting what you believe in and also in this idea that life is a game and whether you choose to see that or not, the way you play is important. You can’t just be a passive element if you want to succeed. The blush pink in the tees, I wanted to connect to some hats so that there would be a matchup of the colour scheme as well as a touch of red in the detail. I wanted to connect that to the Jewellery so whether it’s a female or male model the colours can kind of cross over and can create an assembly or an outfit rather than just one piece.
And I guess going back to the design process, it’s evolved from many drawings coming down to refining what’s the key concept in this capsule what’s the most strong idea and from there I work with my partner Sarah (a graphic designer) we start to evolve that through software, usually through programmes like Lightroom or photoshop. We then build up to a concept where it’s ready to be printed!
Will: How about sourcing the materials. People may have good ideas but not understand the economics behind making it possible. Where do you source your materials from?
Isaac: Currently, at this stage, we are transitioning to some cut and sol and direct garment manufacturing. What we want to do with that is stay competitive but have a unique product. It will likely be sourced from India, China etc and then from there, we will potentially manufacture from Australia to make a really high-quality product. Currently, as of now, we do a couple of one-off individually made special pieces. The commercial line, we work with Base Apparel suppliers and that’s through a company in Sydney.
Will: It’s obviously a difficult experience!
What do you envision for the brand going forward?
Isaac: What I want to do is to constantly seek interesting niches for ways to be a little bit different. So currently that’s been exploring uni-sex clothing, breaking away from gender norms, working with female markers, jewellery and collaborating with the perfect pair, but I think moving forward and this is the interesting thing; what I want to do is continue the clothing but move away from it been solely a clothing brand and evolve it to be an artistic body that communicates in a variety of ways. So really, it’s artistic entrepreneurship and it’s both art and writing and fashion and working with local musicians.
At our recent event “Somnium”
We had an intersection of selling art and selling clothes, encouraging and fostering local music and be the connection between local artists, new fans and the crossover of my fashion been modelled by local musicians and models and as well as the performing and getting that cross-promotion. So, in the future, I see it a not merely as fashion!
Will: I was disappointed to miss that event because I was in Sydney for 8 weeks
What is the connection between music and fashion for you? Especially our common interest in hip hop.
Isaac: I think music is a massive part of a lot of fashion brands as a cultural touchstone and for me as a way of connecting beyond the clothing. Swordsandcotton sits at the intersection of punk rock and hip hop. It’s that hip hop with an edge or conscious spoken word or maybe it’s that eccentric alternative EDM head. For me I think the classic example of someone in that position is Tyler the Creator, he’s innovating- he’s doing something different and he’s constantly changing people’s perceptions of what he should be, but absolutely in that edgy punk influence in the Hip hop which fits with the culture of SwordsandCotton!
Will: Yeah, I loved this most recent album!
So take us through this white hoodie in front of me? I personally dig it!
Isaac: So, some interesting both visual motifs ideas and written words here. Latin- Carpe Noctem-seize the night and most people would know carpe de seize the day. Of course, it’s a bit of an edgy play on that. The design is a Japanese style radiating red lines out of a chess piece. That is the visual idea of people needing to play to win and the idea that people always say that you can never really understand life, you can never understand what the meaning is and my interpretation of that is whilst you may not be able to understand the intentions of life if you want to do something in life you can interpret the chess piece and the way it moves- the way the game is set up. In the fashion market, for instance, you must interpret what your competition is doing, what the retail market is like. To be able to succeed, don’t question the greater things and sit on your hands, but rather look at what is in front of you and play that game. Over here more Latin audere est facere-to do is to dare.
It’s interesting with us in our 20s recent studies have suggested that never before has a generation had so much choice. So what’s actually is happening is because we have so much blinding choice, that instead of feeling like we can make the choice we want, we are confused. It’s choice paralysis and really this is reminding people through a confident hoodie that “hey at the end of the day realise what you are here to do and go out there and fight for it.” Take a risk whether it is business, politics or social media; like the Adelaide Set. It was a daring concept and I remember George telling me about it, but he went out there and did it and years down the track here we are! It was bold!
Tying back down to the font of Somnium, so again all through Latin phrases and words all designed for people to dig in and make it less obvious. It’s all about what your dreams are; finding what you love and fighting for it.
Will: Yeah, I can totally see the holistic nature of the line. Even with this sister piece with the king and the horse.
So, Isaac how do people get a hold of your clothes? You have an Instagram page and a website. I know of some outlets.
Isaac: Yeah, we have done some tests of what’s right in Adelaide. So, we have done a few things. Typically, we work through promoting on Instagram. Our main traffics come through our website www.swordsandcotton.com. As a small start-up, by creating more traffic to our site we can cut out the middleman and create more profit. As far as a connection to physical retails markets, we had some initial success (especially in the Adelaide market) and got taken up by Clinic126. Unfortunately, they are shutting down which is tough but we what we think at this stage is creating an environment where we can control what’s going on and what product is shown. We did a Hindley street pop up a couple of months ago and managed to sell out everything in store which was incredibly successful and it was a creative process where we had the Neon event and connecting with local business people and our mate Saxon, which was a great thing. We had these amazing neon’s glowing out onto Hindley Street with thousands of people walking past our products in the window front.
We are now working with an organisation called You Think and from the success of that stall decided to expand the business of their school and have a store at the front. We were instrumental in influencing that process and now have a connection with that place!
But certainly, we want to explore creative ways to get people
Online and buying and engaging in more stalls. Also, meeting customers direct too. Having a process of a true dialogue; I can do something creative and offer art giveaway with some fashion or I could talk about the process of creating the jewellery and how they can match a pink and red dangle with a bit of fresh streetwear.
Will: Honestly Isaac it sounds amazing just how you talk about it from a holistic standpoint; from the detail to the designing. We hope to help you out!
So, Adelaide Setters if you are into streetwear or fashion it’s a great page to check out. .SwordsandCotton. Thanks so
Much for your time Isaac and keep expanding your business!