We just finished a report highlighting the re-made denim industry that has taken the world by storm over the last few years.
The art of customizing, studding, dip-dying and re-working vintage denim shorts has blown up since key players Bitching & Junkfood arrived on the scene in 2009. Last week we went to visit Marion and Kath, the girls behind the label, at their creative studio in east London where they work with their clan of on-trend denim girls and their two dogs, Pepsi and Pepper.
The studio was crammed from floor to ceiling with denim (mainly their infamous jean shorts) going through production lines of studding, slashing and spray painting in an exclusive order for the brand’s best customers, Urban Outfitters for a special ‘Seven Deadly Shorts’ line. Marion and Kath took time out of their insane schedule to chat about how Bitching & Junkfood came about and what their plans for the future hold.
You ladies were around right at the beginning of the re-made denim scene in 2009, tell us how it all came about.
Kath: I moved to London from Australia about 6 years ago after completing a degree in fashion and textiles and I worked as a buyer at a french brand in London, where I met Marion.
Marion: I did my degree in Art History at Trinity and then got into buying, working at House of Fraser before working with Kath. I then went into Jewelry Design but I felt like I’d veered off course and hadn’t been true to myself creatively. I was on a design trip to China sitting in the half light in a musty factory and the penny dropped. I had to leave my job. I came back walked into my job on the Monday and left to set up my own business. I hadn’t fully worked it out but I knew I wanted to have an online presence. I had 5K in my pocket to start the business so I set up an online store and started selling vintage along with my jewelry designs which were quite avant garde, real animal skulls, human hair, studs etc etc.
And then you enlisted Kath?
Marion: Initially it was just me but I never wanted to be in business alone. Kath and I had been best friends since our time working together and she was doing her own label at the time, we were working together increasingly so it made sense for her to come on board. Also her background is in clothing and mine in accessories so we both bring different skills to the table.
And what do you think of the ever expanding market of brands out there? Do you get competitive?
Kath: We just concentrate on our own production. There was a bit of competition at first but we pride ourselves on our quality control: all sizes are perfectly consistent, all studding is of the utmost quality and we only ever use vintage Levi’s, to keep the look consistent. Not many other names can rival that.
Marion: We also have a thriving business, we have a great relationship with Urban Outfitters in the Europe and we have great agents so sales come to us naturally and we’re happily expanding.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Marion: From everywhere. Music, tumblrs, blogs, the streets and then all the girls who work for Bitching & Junkfood. They’re all super cool girls and they are essencially our customers, as we are also our own customers. So if there is something missing from our wardrobe, we make it.
What about themes or collections?
Marion: We don’t have a particular theme for a collection because we don’t think real girls dress that way, they work on building eclectic pieces together that they pick and choose for their wardrobe, so we work in the same way.
So what are you working on right now? Any new trends and items?
Kath: Tons of brands are working with pyramid studs right now so we’re trying to move away from that a bit. We’re also feeling the denim mini-skirt. Shorts have become a festival uniform so we’re going to introduce the denim mini. We’re also doing our own development with washes and embellishments and exploring digital print.
Marion: We’ve just finished shooting our SS13 Lookbook with Alis Pelleschi and next we turn into interior designers for our imminent studio move. We’re taking on an arch space in Hoxton, it’s our first big studio and we’re going to town on it. We start designing AW13 soon but I’ve not got a clue what that is yet. There’s a lot of references swirling around in the grey matter but we haven’t had a chance to download them yet.
And what about the future of Bitching and Junkfood, what are your plans?
Marion: Well we’re moving our collection from a Remade label into fully manufactured. We never intended to have a Remade collecction, it just grew organically that way as we kept getting approached to do projects. To a large extent the limitations of the materials have held us back and we’ve so many more ideas than we can put to use just remaking things. The rest of our business strategy we’ll keep under wraps but we’re ambitious girls with big plans. We won’t be happy until we have an empire.