Our Kid Apparel – Independent clothing made in Sheffield
Sheffield Unchained contributer Anouchka Santella visits clothing designers Our Kid Apparel to find out their story, and encounters ‘James Bonds lair’ in the old industrial heart of Sheffield.
Are you fed up with every high street brand offering the same clothes from one store to the next? Would you like to be one of the first to wear a limited edition hand printed t-shirt? Do you want a denim jacket that’ll stand out from the rest?
It’s about time you got to know Our Kid Apparel.
The independent clothing boutique is based at the Mesters Works, a collaborative studio complex based in an old spring factory in Neepsend, Sheffield.
A first look at Our Kid’s studio would make you think you’ve just entered a teenager’s bedroom. Drawings on the walls, big boxes full of clothes, t-shirts everywhere, records on the floor, it only lacks a bed and a couple of empty pizza boxes to fully believe it.
The residents of this studio are two bearded university friends, Jack Alcock, from Somerset and Robin Harrison, from Driffield in East Yorkshire.
Jack, 25, and Robin, 22, met in Sheffield over two years ago whilst studying photography and graphic design respectively. They bonded over a passion for creating their own clothes and in 2011 they set up Our Kid Apparel. Jack, who finished studying a few years ago, explains:
“We started because we wanted to make clothes that we wanted to wear. It’s also about us not wanting to work for other people and that was a way of working for ourselves.”
Inspired mainly by the city of Sheffield, described by Jack as “a good city with a cool music scene”, the owners of Our Kid would rather create things their mates would wear than keeping up with the trend.
And what could be trendier than owning limited edition clothes?
It hasn’t taken long for people all over the world to realise this, and the designers have sold their clothing as far as Australia and the Netherlands.
They’ve even had an order from the House of Commons. Maybe an Our Kid Apparel t-shirt is hiding somewhere underneath a white shirt and tie combo in Parliament.
From politicians to ‘Indie cool kids’, the two young entrepreneurs aim to reach people that appreciate what they do and the fact that everything is done by Our Kid Apparel. Jack said that maintaining an ethical way of working is important:
“We use organic t-shirts made in the US or fabrics found in vintage shops rather than products made in China or India. The leather and denim we use is also usually found in vintage shops and then customised by hand. It’s another way to keep stuff individual and to put our touch to it.”
With their clothes selling in independent shops such as Sheffield’s A New Shop or Birds Yard, at Sheffield’s Independents Market and at Common People’s pop up shop in August, it’s not surprising to spot more of their t-shirts, jackets or beanie hats in the streets of Sheffield.
Jack said that the pop up shop was a great experience and hopes that they can do it again, at least until they can get their own store. But Jack and Robin are not lazily waiting for things to happen. Despite the fact that Robin is in his final year at university, the two boys never stop:
“We’re currently in the middle of our Autumn/Winter collection, which we are very excited about. We’re also working with Party For The People, a non-profit organisation raising money for charity.
“We’ve created a collaboration t-shirt for an event at DLS (Dirty Little Secret) with Wolf Music. They’re working with Party For The People and they’re coming to Sheffield for a party, so that’s what the t-shirt is for. We also want to host some events next year, maybe live music, but nothing is planned yet.”
Back at their studio in Neepsend a big blackboard game wall convinces you that you’ve entered a teenager’s room. But take a closer look and the blackboard doesn’t look like it’s for games after all. It looks like a code that no one can crack.
Suddenly it doesn’t feel like a studio or a teenager’s room anymore, but more like James Bond’s lair. Standing surrounded by all the clothes from Our Kid’s previous collections and their future marketing plans scribbled on the big blackboard wall, certainly gives a strange impression.
It makes you look again at these two young guys, who don’t seem like bearded hipsters anymore, but like true businessmen.
Photographs by Tom Avery.