As part of the new Zone Focus plans set last year, I wanted to start to expand the features on the site into different independent arts to broaden the content on the site. I have always had an interest in the culture of garment design and the stories behind the brands, So I am happy to present a new type of article to the ZF site known as Threads. This feature series will look at cool, up-and-coming streetwear fashion brands, showcasing their stories and lookbooks through these monthly posts. The first brand to showcase their work is Teesside, UK based clothing line, Plaintalk.
Well, I’ll start by saying my name’s Joe and I’m from Teesside, I think that this area and my working-class upbringing shaped what Plaintalk is today. I’d studied graphic design at Northumbria and for my final major project, having been heavily interested in fashion for several years by this point, I decided to create a brand based around working-class youth culture, where I screen printed and designed the clothes myself. However, as this was a uni project, it never truly felt like it was my vision.
Upon graduating in 2016, I moved down to London and after a few months of honing my style and coming up with ideas I booked out a studio space where I could screen print and I practised. After a little while, I compiled my ideas and I launched them as Plaintalk, where I began selling hand screen printed t-shirts in April 2017.
STYLE & INFLUENCES
Whenever people ask me what my influences are, I tend to draw a bit of a blank but I’d say my main influence is the every day and those everyday moments of ecstasy that people get – like your team scoring a last-minute winner, the DJ playing your favourite song or seeing a friend you haven’t seen in a long time, that kind of thing. I think the eclectic mishmash collage sort of style of my work reflects those emotions. I’m also heavily influenced by the UK working class subculture, particularly the rave/acid house scene of the 80s/90s and I guess the punk DIY attitude also runs through my work.
Artists and designers tend not to inspire me too much as I find a lot of things overly polished and perfect to the point where they lack soul, although design greats such as David Carson and Peter Saville definitely have left an impact on me. I love to look through old magazines and books from the late 80s and early 90s whilst I love the imagery from raves from the UK, US and Europe. I think the flyers and artwork for them are fantastic and I’d say they definitely directly influence me. I believe this sort of aesthetic most closely fits the overall style of my brand, everything’s boxy, casual, dark and happy at the same time, rave-ready.
I believe that my influences have helped me create a unique brand. A lot of brands that come under the wider ‘streetwear’ umbrella are money makers and follow trends, which doesn’t bother at all – I get my kicks from people getting my vision and buying my brand from the other side of the world and seeing my artwork. I’m not interested in making a quick quid or two if that comes later then great. I screen print, photograph and design everything myself, which I think is unique in the modern day also whilst I believe that brands influenced by club culture and the working class have much less exposure than skate brands for instance.
I grew up listening to bands like The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, from there I discovered acid house and I haven’t really looked back since. I listen mainly to dance music, pretty much anything but EDM, I love techno, house, trance, old school rave, I’m not too picky. Dance music and club culture have heavily influenced my work as this is probably where I’ve felt most inspired, seeing people leave their worries at home and have a mad one is a big thing for me – I’m also inspired by the movements and the sensory overload in a club, I think it’s great and there’s lot of references to this kind of thing in my work.
My plans for this year are to expand out. I want to do more types of clothes and look more into new techniques such as cut and sew and embroidery. I do sweatshirts, shirts and other pieces but I always feel like I could do more. I also want to hopefully release a zine and hold a launch party for my next collection, rent a space, sell clothes, have art, DJs, all that – any excuse for a good time!