We sit down and talk shop with Swallows & Daggers

For those who don’t know, tell us who the team is behind S&D

Well there’s myself (Cian Wright) I own Swallows&Daggers. Then we’ve got James Benson handling everything in the US and Chris Brownless who handles promotions in the UK/Europe.

S&D started off as a tattoo blog, what made you take the leap into the indie clothing scene?

We did our first shirt as a limited edition collaboration with my friend Simon Erl (http://simonerl.tumblr.com) who’s an awesome UK tattooer. We did a Simon ErlxSwallows&Daggers shirt for the Dublin Tattoo Convention and ended up selling 40 of the 50 printed at the convention and the rest sold out in less than an hour that night online. Up until then we’d only sold our magazine and I’d really enjoyed collaborating with Simon so we started putting out one shirt at a time until we could afford to put out full collections. I also came across Emptees at the time and it provided so much information that really helped me take S&D to the next level.

Tell us about the new Fall Line, what makes it different from previous ones?

The fall line we worked with less tattooers and used more graphic artists. We also worked with a set theme and build a more coherent collection. We’d been working with Clark Orr for awhile but we brought in a bunch of new artists (Michael Shantz, Kevin Leary, Greg Abbott) who were really great to work with. We’ve definitely learned a lot from this new line and we’re hoping to build on it with our next release.

You’ve been working with some of the top artist in the industry, take us threw a design process.

I like to collect images and reference points alongside an idea/concept. When I’m starting ideas for a release I start a new folder fill it with images that fit what we’re going for then start putting individual shirt ideas together. I generally decide how many designs we need and a concept for each one then start working my way through portfolios and deciding which artist is most suited to which idea. We’re fortunate enough to be in the position where artists approach us with their portfolios now which definitely helps but we’ve trimmed it down to a few key artists to keep the line coherent.

Being based out of the UK, you now have a store that’s operated in the United States how did that go about?

When James (Benson) came on board he started pitching the idea of a US store and how it would work. I’ve really wanted a strong US presence for a long time so it’s been awesome to be able to realize that. It’s tough working between two continents and we generally do multiple phone calls a day alongside tons of emails which with an 8 hour time difference can be quite challenging. I think the hard work on that front is about to pay off with some big results.

As the clothing line grows, do you find yourself giving the blog a backseat?

The blog really changed my life so I think it’ll always be around in some form. When I started it, I’d dropped out of college, was sitting on my parents couch with nothing to do and put my last £10 into a .com for it and from there have managed to create everything to date without putting in any other investment. That said I think it’ll make a move to be a more general lifestyle blog like the hundreds or rebel8 ones but with tattoo content.

What can we expect from S&D in the future?

We’re hopefully going to start branching out into headwear, accessories and cut & sew in the not so distant future. We’re always looking for collaborative projects with other brands/artists so that’s something you should see a lot more of in the future. We’d like to pick up some new stockists around the globe which we’ve been working really hard on. Basically we want to keep growing and move on to bigger and bigger projects.

Anything else you want the readers to know before we sign off?

I’d like to thank Vinny for the interview. I very much appreciate it and IATT for providing a platform for us not-so-big brands to promote ourselves and have a voice.  Also a big shout out to everyone who works with me here at S&D and all our customers and supporters.

Make sure to check out Swallows & Daggers at www.swallowsanddaggers.com