LDN Indies: Ullac.

LDN Indies: championing and highlighting fellow independent businesses in London.


 To kick off the first instalment of our LDN Indies series, we caught up with the guys from clothing company, ULLAC. Meeting at their workspace in Hackney, we chatted about their business, their inspiration and, of course, shoes. See below our conversation and some shots taken with Chris and Kyle ft TOWER footwear.
So, basic stuff. Why did you start ULLAC?

Kyle: Always wanted to do it. Chris and I are brothers and we grew up with Gavin (not here, holding it down in Helsinki) in Preston. One thing that we all had in common was clothes, even if we had such different taste. We went our separate ways in taste and careers, and we’d always spoken about doing something together but we wanted to wait for the right time. We got a bit older, decided we were ready and figured out what we wanted to do.

Why denim? What gap did you see?

Chris: Denim was always a place for us to start, it doesn’t necessarily define us. Our next drop won’t actually include much denim. We were always very into clothes, denim was always something you could be quite geeky about. If you’re into clothes, and you’re into jeans and you’ve got knowledge about how and where stuff’s made, techniques, then it can be quite specific to denim. If you’re into classic street-wear, you may not necessarily be into the making of the product, the materials.

Kyle: We already knew a lot about denim, but we had to learn a lot about cuts, manufacturing, and patterns.

It almost feels like, from someone that knows nothing about denim… or clothes manufacturing, that you’ve almost started from the hardest place. To start off making something so technical, and then wanting to branch out from there…

Chris: That’s a good observation, but because this stuff is technical and it’s got to be made in a certain way and well. So in terms of structure and detail, definitely. But like I said before, just by being really into this stuff growing up, it’s like we’d been researching our whole lives.  But it’s good because we have set the bar really high for ourselves. So as we’ve grown and moved into more elaborate designs, and new fabrics and handles, stuff that’s more unknown to us, we’ve applied that same level of care and detail to our production.

Where’s your stuff made?

Kyle: We make it in a bunch of different places, the denim, the jeans are all made in Italy. We work with a small family-run factory in Urbania. It’s properly amazing.

Did you have to go out there and source them and meet them?

Chris: Yeah, it’s something else. Mr. Dini, scares me a bit if I’m honest. Their vibe is really traditional and we are very much used to being unprofessional adult children in London, I mean we have to call him ‘Mr’?! I didn’t know adults called each other Mr anymore. The town was big for making denim, it was known as ‘Denim Vally’ all the skill and care is still there although often nowadays it gets a bit forgotten about with companies leaning towards Japan, which is excellent also, or countries where it’s cheaper, more convenient and less ethical.  We have funny clashes, we want to make unusual and big silhouettes and we want them to be put together with their skill and care. They often think what we are doing is ridiculous and it maybe doesn’t make sense to them so we definitely get some funny looks. 

So it’s like a clash of cultures and modern/ traditional techniques? You guys trying to use the traditional techniques in a modern way.

Chris: Well because they’re so amazing, they have such strong opinions. You’ve just gotta learn to not be sensitive. They’ll say it to you straight!

You’re from Preston, how much about your childhood and growing up in the North has influenced your style and your business?

Chris: Oh, loads. I think it’s a massive influence in all different ways. Visually, and I’m talking less about the classic straight jeans we started with, but like we grew up in the 90s in a small town, a village, and I think the big influences came with the stuff you saw kids wearing. The sorts of silhouettes, not even the clothes, the shapes. Kids tucking their pants into socks. Big, baggy clothes.

Kyle: It gets warped over time, we remember what naughty kids wore and often that Inspires Chris when designing. It’s like memories of memories though, so over time they certain aspects get exaggerated and applied to what we like now. Our clothes are so inspired by our childhood. Like the Dodgem jumper. That’s based on the jumpers that the kids who worked on the waltzer would wear. They had this big massive pocket on the front full of all the dodgem tokens. Our jumper might not actually look a lot like it, but in our memory, that’s what it looks like. 

Love that your clothes are almost like a literal representation of your childhood. So do you purposefully look to the 90s for inspiration or it just naturally happens?

Chris: Yeah, I think it just naturally happens. We’re so influenced by the people that burnt themselves into our memories. Often the most vivid pictures are the ones that come from your childhood. And the people that make the biggest impressions on you are often people you met or saw when you were growing up. And we were kids in a small town in the 90s so it’s always going to be there.  So yes, there’s a lot of hints at 90s hip-hop in what we do. Via a small English village. All these kids hanging out outside the Spar,  thinking they look like Tupac, but they didn’t! I don’t know how much of our stuff actually looks like what all the kids were wearing back them, but it’s definitely inspired.

So is there a hero piece in the collection?

Kyle: It’s quite difficult to answer that, we all have a different view. But probably the painter jacket. Cause there’s so much variety in that silhouette. We’ve done it in all different colourways, and out of what we’ve got, it’s our most noticeable thing, that and the big jeans. The different sorts of people that can wear that, make it so versatile.

Chris: Yeah, I’d probably agree but say the full suit, it’s so ULLAC and clean and a thing that so many people including us getting excited about. 

You spoke about your childhood and what inspired you from that time. What, if anything inspires you about London and London street style? Does it influence your collection?

Chris: Yeah, definitely. I think there are echoes of the same thing we see about now. That 90s hip-hop vibe.

But you’re collection isn’t directly inspired by London street style? You’d be making your collection like this whether there was a 90s revival going on outside or not?

Chris: Yeah, it’s such a tapestry though. You definitely get inspired. We’re so inspired by people, moods, and feelings. We spend a lot of time here. A third of our lives in London!

About being an indie company, what advice you would have for other people? Especially as you’ve both worked in other industries before? Where does it differ?

Chris: We’ve got to pay pensions. Open the mail! Tell Gavin we’ve got to pay pensions! Turns out you can’t ignore that. But it’s a tough one in terms of advice, every day’s different. But I’d say so much focus on the thing that you make. Whatever it is, make something amazing. Do it well.

Kyle: If you’ve got something you’re truly proud of, and you’re talking to someone, you can see it, you pick up on that passion. The stuff that works the best is the stuff with our biggest thumbprint on it. And the tone of voice.

Yeah, I love that on your website. I literally read your copy in a northern accent.

Kyle: Yeah, I think that’s so important. The further the world goes online, we crave that human bit, that interaction. When you buy online, it’s easy to lose it. At first, we didn’t do that so much, we didn’t try hard enough.

Yeah, do you think that has something to do with always working for other people? Now you work for yourself and you forget that you can do whatever the fuck you want? Like dusting off those cobwebs!

Kyle: Yeah absolutely! That goes into everything we put out. The jobs we worked in before, we worked with other people and we’d have a client brief to stick to. We’d see amazing work getting dumbed down. It was mega frustrating. Like our photos, out videos, it’s different to other stuff you see…Because it’s us!

Let’s talk about shoes. Can you give me your thoughts on the shoes you wore today? I guess the biggest one being the Fila Spaghetti ‘cause I remember last time we spoke you mentioned it, and now we have it! Came in like last week.

Chris: Yeah mate, I am so into that shoe. I had them in the high-top blue and white colourway. So I had those with the blue and white, and I wore them with a Dallas Cowboy starter jacket. It was massive, way too big. My shoes were probably way too big too. I actually had a pair of  Kickers that looked like these Trailblazers.

Kyle: Our mum just used to chuck stuff away, the amount of stuff she used to throw. Like, monies worth of kicks!

Feels it’s kind of fortuitous that the brands that are here are all sort of 90’s revivals? Fila, Timberland

Chris: What do Timb’s remind you of? Christmas! Actually, they also remind me of a knock-off version from Sainsbury’s that our mum got us. They just feel like Christmas to me.

And what do you feel about the current footwear/ sneaker scene?

Kyle: I like it! It’s almost about like being a bit crass and bold, statement pieces that are loud and show-y off-yBut Chris is so precious about his trainers! The kicks that he’s got that are nice, he’ll wear round here then wear something else to walk to work! I don’t care, I just rip mine apart. I’ll batter them.

Find Ullac on Instagram here and their website here.
Product ft: Fila Spaghetti Low in cream and black, Hi-Tec Silver Shadow in black and white, Timberland 6 Inch Premium in Canteen Grey, Timberland 6 Inch Premium in Wheat, Fila Trailblazer in white and red.

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