Emerging from Birmingham, GVNMNT Clothing Co. is a brand that specialises in lifestyle and streetwear. Following the success of the latest Pop Up this past weekend in Soho, we caught up with brand owner Sam Cartwright to discuss his inspirations behind the brand, challenges, where the brand is heading and any advice he has for those looking to do what he does.
What did you do before GVNMNT and why did you start it?
I worked a few odd jobs – mainly plumbing with some other bits along the way.
I started the brand because I’ve always been into clothing, footwear and anything else involved in this industry. It has excited me since I can remember. It sounds crazy but even as a kid, whenever my mom could take us away on holiday or anywhere really, I always wanted fresh clothing and trainers!
We didn’t really have the money for it back then, but I just remember I used to drive her insane showing her all the new pieces I was desperate for. I think this is what led me to stay so fascinated with the culture, so I made the leap and just went for it as I got older.
With all the controversy surrounding politics, why the name GVNMNT?
GVNMNT is a backlash of revelation through statements and designs that allows people to say what they feel through expression, merely by making the decision to wear it. When people don’t feel heard they can now say it without words.
We wanted something that stood to serve the people, not the other way round. Our ideology was inspired by real issues people face every day and liberation against ever-growing frustration.
In a time where political organisations and authorities are progressively gaining more doubt and an increased loss in confidence, society is facing an anger overhaul. Many of the indigenous share a twisted admiration for aristocracy, an innate bias for the privileged, an irk for elitism and sensitivity for the sworn in.
GVNMNT was a stand against being on the receiving end of assumption and judgement. It aims to spin this growing frustration towards our self-serving often perceived ‘corrupt’ leaders of commerce and politics, and channel that frustration into creating something positive out of it.
We wanted to make steps and progress a forward-thinking philosophy, stimulating a want for independence, self-education and imagination. Our ethos was to uplift the downtrodden!
How has your brand evolved since birth, and where do you see it being in 5 years time?
Where do I start… there has been so much evolution from our very humble beginnings.
We started the brand out of a spare room, with about £600 to our names. Over a couple of years, we outgrew this and we now have a unit and photography space to work from and employees. This was one of the biggest jumps we made turning the brand into something real.
Garment wise, we started by doing what I think every startup brand does. We got blank tees and had logos or designs screen printed onto them. As time passed we wanted to get more into the technical side of garment making, using factories abroad to make cut and sewn garments. This really gave us the extra push to make the more detailed, thought-out pieces we make today.
I think from the success of our latest Pop Up and the ease on Covid restrictions which set us back a while, we will be doing more Pop Ups and then eventually we will get a physical store. We’ll also be doing more collaborations with other brands (not just in the fashion industry) but I’ll keep that under our hat for now…We want to spread our message as far and wide as possible, so more international stores will be stocking us soon.
On the topic of Pop Ups, there was a lot of buzz surrounding your most recent one from loyal fans to newcomers. How important is catering to all for GNVMNT, and how do you ensure your brand remains exclusive whilst also being inclusive?
First of all we want to thank everybody who made the Pop Up weekend so special. It was crazy from start to finish…We had the guys from Honest Skateboards and Les Gens Clothing involved too, so special shoutouts to them first for helping make it what it was.
Inclusivity is something our whole brand is based around, so making sure this is fulfilled is a major part in what we do. We try not to follow fashion trends and just make what we want to make which I think is what our supporters love about our brand. When you are wearing a GVNMNT piece, we hope you feel included in something bigger, a higher school of thought.
We drop a lot of pieces with low quantities, so the fans that really fuck with us know that they are wearing something exclusive that hasn’t been worn by thousands of people at a time.
With all the new brands coming out of the UK, how do you remain unique?
I think nowadays, with Instagram and all the other social media apps, you see many brands that have similar looks and feel about them. It’s so easy to see what brands are doing well and recycle their ideas. We don’t really follow any guidelines and produce exactly what we want to produce – when I’m designing I keep my head out of social media and instead look for inspiration with what is going on in the world around us. We are so swamped with what others are doing on apps that I think sometimes your own thoughts can be infiltrated with what others are doing. I think this is the reason we stay unique, and it seems to be working.
What advice do you have to anyone starting a clothing company in 2022?
Sounds cliche but trust the process and NEVER give up. If you truly believe in what you are creating, the rest will follow. Nothing worth having comes easy and we know that first-hand. We have had plenty of knock backs and problems in the past, but if you keep fighting and knocking on doors, eventually they will have to open.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you started?
Your brand won’t blow up overnight, it’s going to take hard days and sleepless nights to get where you want to be.
What is your favourite piece on the site?
At the moment, our favourite piece has to be the ‘Arca’ Tech suit. We put so much work into designing this piece from pattern to production…I think we were working on it for around a year.
Every detail on this piece has been carefully thought-out, from fabrics, linings and everything in-between. I think we had about 5 samples made in the end as we wanted the whole tracksuit to be perfect. The finished piece is something I’m pretty proud of.
Being a woman that wears a lot of men’s streetwear pieces, although your brand is men’s premium streetwear everything is unisex – was this intentional or something that naturally happened over time. How important do you think it is to cater to women?
I think over the past few years male and female fashion has almost become one and the same. If you went back ten years, it was quite obvious what were male and what were female garments in the fashion industry. Now though, and rightly so, women are wearing male clothing and vice versa. Who has the right to tell you what to wear?? Feeling good is unisex so fashion should be the same.
We have so many female supporters and it’s important to us that this remains in the future.
What can we expect to see coming in the next few months?
We will be dropping 3 more seasonal collections this year with some exclusive pieces in-between. Amongst that we have some collaborations coming that we have been working on behind the scenes.
All we can say is expect the unexpected.
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