This London Label Is Trying To Become Your Next Favourite Techwear Brand
Their first drop - a multifunctional bag called TYPE 001 - caught my attention when I saw my good friend Sufian modelling for the first De-fec't look book. Through the brand's connection with The Basement and through Sufians legit check in taking part in this project I knew this wasn’t just another „printed T-Shirt project” but something to keep my eyes on.
Then, a couple of months later, I met my good friend and Biancissimo's most important partner in crime Johnny Terror and saw him wearing the bag with a contented smile. From that point I knew I had to contact Rhys for a feature article because if Sufian, Terror and The Basement give me a broad hint there kinda is no way around a quality story and product to show up.
After checking out their bag and their latest released T-Shirt - that actually is not just another printed T shirt - I finally caught Rhys for a little interview to explain the brand and his ideas to me.
He also was so kind to give an exclusive discount to Biancissimo readers, if they should catch the same fire as I did.
So all you got to do now is to read the interview, check the pictures, and if you like it, go to the De-fec't online store and buy one of their products to support the brand and your wardrobe // The 15% Discount Code is „BIANCISSIMO“ (do it).
De-fec't - Utilitarian Design From London
What is De-fec't London and who is the team behind it?
De-fec't London is a clothing and accessories brand that that was originally founded in 2015 as my final major project at university. Originally just selling a couple of tees, the initial brand died when I left and started working. In 2017 I wanted to bring it back, rebrand and change direction which has been done with the initial release of our Type 001 utility bag. The goal of the new De-fec't is to breach that gap between high end techwear and workwear, keeping it all as affordable as possible and in line with our aesthetic of utilitarian design. The team consists of just Chariza and I, so we're very small currently!
What is your definition of utilitarian design and why is it so important to you?
Well to me utilitarian design is the perfect balance of form and function. When I look at clothing I get excited about things like pockets, attachments, versatility of the garment etc, and want to translate that into products that also have a specific aesthetic that I am developing with the brand. As you can probably tell by the few products we have put out so far, we're big fans of military design too. It all slots together to make De-fec't and I enjoy putting things out there that people like me appreciate, it tells me I'm doing things right.
Your very first item was a pretty smart shoulder bag called Type 001. Can you tell us something about the process from the very first sketch to the final idea?
Type 001 was something that I'd been wanting to make/have for a long time but never had the funds or the means. I was struggling to find the perfect bag for me, not too small like some of the current streetwear bags out there but not a backpack. I tried some vintage bags, a military satchel, then the supreme shoulder bag from SS16 but it just didn't sit right on my body and had just one compartment so I decided that was the final straw and I needed to make my own. I wanted something durable, deceptively spacious with a good amounts of compartments. I found the perfect stock bag one day, ordered it for myself, it came and I fell in love but it wasn't quite right but I knew I had to do something with it for De-fec't. That's when I began to change elements, customise the spec to how I wanted, added my branding and those damn fine embroidered velcro patches. That's when Type 001 was truly born and I was ecstatic with the response I got from the online community.
What is the perfect bag from your perspective and how many pockets and zippers are necessary?
I tried to create the perfect bag for myself with Type 001 but there's no real end all for a bag, you will always need or want something more for a specific task etc. For me the things I care most about are material quality, functional design of space within/on the outside and the colour. A good bag needs to look good but also convey that functionality we all desire, not just a shell with a zipper to close it. I like clips, side pockets, spaces for specific items and also it's always handy to have somewhere secure either inside or out for valuables. Fabrics like cordura, twill etc appeal to me because they are durable and my overall colour palette of my clothing is usually black, olive drab, browns, khaki and tans so something that compliments that!
Do you have a clear vision of your customers - or better said - who are the kind of people you would love to see walking around with your creation?
So far we have had a really varied customer base from all over the world which I really love, it shows me that it's not just the UK market that responds to my products and almost half of my customers are from main land Europe which I appreciate a lot. The customer base goes as far as countries like USA, China and New Zealand though so it's very humbling to have a such a great global response. The customer that I really want to appeal to is obviously someone who follows the techwear markets, is into workwear etc, kinda like a collaboration between Acronym and Engineered Garments which is obviously lofty heights for a customer and we are nowhere near that level, but that's our dream, to appeal to fans of brands such as those. One other cool thing is people messaging me saying that their dads love the bag, that is extremely satisfying!
Where does your love for functional clothing come from and what is your biggest inspiration when designing clothing?
I've always loved the colours that seem to go hand in hand with functional clothing, you rarely see anything but black, greens, browns, navy etc. These colours pretty much tie in with all of the military stuff I love and have been drawn to for pretty much all my life. Before myself, Dad and uncle my whole family was military so it's kinda interesting that I've been like this, maybe it's in my blood? When taking inspiration though that follows the same patterns, the military theme is clear throughout, the use of Latin on the patches is also a homage to classic military mottos in that language. The only thing that contrasts this is my use of bright orange but I just really like the look of that orange contrast on a tonal black garment or bag.
So the techwear trend seems to continue growing right now, do you see any end, and even more importantly, do you like this growth?
I think that the trend is still niche and it's hard to actually do and pull off well which helps it not grow too wildly. It's more of a hobby in my eyes than a fashion trend because you have to actually invest time and usually a lot of money to "level up" to that next piece etc. Obviously brands like Acronym will always be more valuable and sought after than a brand like mine but I know where I stand and I want to be able to breach that gap. I'm happy with the growth because it helps De-fec't appeal to more people but I don't want it to grow so much that it's picked up properly by high street, that would pretty much push me out completely. Unless of course De-fec't also grows that cult following and brand loyalty that the bigger brands get, that would make this all worth while for me.
Starting your own brand straight from London doesn't seem like the easiest task, to be honest. So what are the challenges you have to face and how do you think you can turn your project into a sustaining force?
It has been tough and I've had to save a lot and put pretty much all my savings into getting things up and running, even with this there's a lot to iron out. The main challenges are definitely finding the courage to risk it and go for it, making what you want and hoping the community responds. For example, when we first got up and running and released Type 001, I was petrified. I had 35 bags to sell and had no idea what was going to happen, I even got banned for a while on the streetwear reddit for posting and not reading the rules in my haste to get the brand out there (my bad I know). I ended up selling out in an hour, which isn't super fast but it's good for a brand with pretty much no following. Posting in The Basement helped and I'm lucky to know such great guys and be part of that community so shouts to them always, much love. Since then I've sold quite a few more bags and released my first mini capsule titled "No Morale". There's gonna be another preorder in September for Type 001 then it's on to other projects, might be seeing a Type 002 soon or something like that haha. But yeah, anyway, fear is the main hurdle you have to overcome, and belief in your product helps that a lot.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest T- Shirt release? The quality seems to be impressive compared to all the other printed Ts everyone does right now.
Our NO MORALE tees were pretty much our first piece of clothing since our humble beginnings long ago, before the rebrand and TYPE 001. I wanted to make something of high quality, classic design and keep it in line with our goals and ethos to create a high functioning, aesthetically pleasing piece. We sourced 200gsm fabric for a heavy weight but soft feel and refused to use blanks for the tees, it's all cut and sew. The capsule itself was more military themed but so was TYPE 001 if you look see our military influence with the use of the latin phrasing. We wanted this capsule to represent our thoughts on the state of things in general recently. Pretty much feeling like the world is slowly slipping into a lot of negative shit day in day out and as a young creative I wanted to reflect that with the caption on the tee. Morale in the military terminology of course, meaning: the confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline of a person or group at a particular time. So yeah, we got a bit emo and made a tee.
If you could choose to collaborate with one brand who would that be and why?
This is a hard one, mainly because there are a few brands I love and a few brands I really respect. If I could pretty much have a collab handed to me and I could have a great creative input on the overall outcome I would have to choose WTAPS. Their whole aesthetic, brand image and product is just perfect and I feel like they would a perfect fit if we ever made it to their lofty heights. We're always open to collab though if it works, I like working with other people and if an interesting product or concept can be made, please hit me up if you're out there.
Where can we get your stuff and are you planing to get it into any shops as well?
Currently you can find us online at www.defect.london. That's our home for now, but we are always planning for bigger and better things. I wouldn't mind being stocked in a store at all, there's a lot of places that I would love to see De-fec't; Goodhood, Bene Culture, Edjer to name my main three. Again, if anyone reading wants to stock us then get in touch, if it's a good fit we can talk haha.
So what's next with De-Fect, what kind of pieces would you love to design next?
Well as we have had such amazing success with our TYPE 001 utility bag, it would only make sense to produce TYPE 002 or some other specification of bag.
If there's anything that you would like to see a brand make then let me know haha. A dream piece for me however would be a jacket. In my eyes it is the epitome of tech and utility, a good jacket can make a bag redundant so you never know, in the future, we would love to make this ourselves.
Thanks a lot, Rhys!