It’s been an exciting year for new brands, especially ones out of the UK. One in particular stands out for me, Northdown / Union Approved. Through it’s effulgent social media accounts to it’s cultivated care packages this is an eagerly awaited release. I reached out to founder Matt Smith, and artist John Speed to ask where the brand has come from, the details of the collection and what the future holds.
MS “I started Northdown early 2014 after exiting another brand that I co-founded a couple of years previous. My wife had just given birth to our second child Tove just as things had started to take off for the other brand, I didn’t want to hold them back so stood aside and created Northdown / Union Approved as an outlet for all my ideas but that I could grow at my own pace.”
The inaugural collection consists of a eye catching orange coach jacket, and a t-shirt made in collaboration with the artist rebel-yüth. The slogan not only fit the artists’ name and style in toto, but was deliberate and long thought out. Harnessing the talent of rebel-yüth to help recreate a memory.
MS “The Yüth and The Fury tee was because the timing was just right with the contact from John, and a conversation I was having the same day with Corey at Yorkshire Tee. From the Sex Pistols to a tee Ian Curtis (Joy Division) once wore to my angry teenage years in the 80’s “The Youth and The Fury” has been in my head forever and rebel-yüth brought all those memories back and that’s where the tee came from.”
What’s the message?
MS “Being young and being amused and confused by life’s little ironies. John got it straight away and we have a few more ideas that we’re working on now, I hope it will continue and people get something from it.”
JS “That DIY feel of taking something and the making it your own is the punk ethos so yeah it feels like it’s a tribute to punk in general. I also share the same love of a lot of them angsty 70s-80s bands such as the Smiths, Joy Division, the Pistols etc. and understand the idea behind the youth revolting for their own voice.”
As striking as it is classic in it’s appearance, and perfect for this semblance of Autumn, the coach jacket makes for a very plausible outerwear option.
MS “I wear coach jackets all the time and I wanted an orange one so that’s where the NDG coach came from. Dave Springer who used to print for Gimme 5 /Very Ape in the nineties printed them. I met him through Instagram last year, he probably printed over 50% of the old tees I’ve got archived.”
Now we’re happy to have physical items to get our grubby hands on, but it won’t keep us appeased for long. What’s next?
MS “I’ll release some more Northdown tees and sweats hopefully before this year’s out. Then, more apparel; more accessories; some nice collaborations for the spring; interest from Japan and working with an amazing uk retailer will see us through 2015.”
I feel the majority of our readers will relate to where Northdown comes from and it’s many influences. The brand isn’t living in the past but rather re-introducing it to both the original and a new audience. You can’t beat the classics and you shouldn’t try.
MS “I guess Northdown is still finding itself, I collect stuff, I always have done, boomboxes; records; t-shirts; look books, I’ve got a thing about catalogues & magazines, mostly japanese “streetwear” stuff, I go out of my way to get any that I’m missing, I’ve got hundreds of them. so there’s all this “stuff” that’s been influencing me forever and northdown is my way of sharing it.”
You can get any of the pieces mentioned directly from UNIONAPPROVED.COM and the t-shirts come with an exclusive rebel-yüth sticker pack.