The brainchild of Miami nutjob Julian Consuegra (aka ironkoopz aka koopz aka Julian C aka Jules aka ‘is that the dude with the blue hair?‘), Florida DIY-brand Stray Rats has been one of the biggest up-and-coming names in the underground of ‘streetwear’ (for want of a better word) in recent years. Since starting the brand back in 2010, koopz has successfully sold through three or four seasons proper, and the brand’s rising success seems unlikely to diminish anytime soon with well-known faces from all weird corners of the planet getting spotted in their gear.
This season sees another strong collection of printed designs on t-shirts and Champion pullovers. The already classic ‘YÜTH‘ design makes an undoubtedly welcome return in the form of a cuffed beanie, while the Rats Club ceramic coffee mug and assortment of badges add some variety for the more collection-prone people among us (Read: me).
I’ve always liked Stray Rats, having been familiar with koopz and his style for a while. It’s cool to see a brand that doesn’t fuck around trying to be anything other than what it is, and I think it’s partly that which makes the stuff so popular. People instantly recognise something that has come from a legitimate source. Even the choice of Champion hoodies gives that nostalgic feeling of the good old days when guys liked their sweaters boxy with a big-ass hood on, while the sarcastic and obnoxious bluntness of the Stray Rats designs highlights that historic power of the printed tee. Koopz is himself an avid t-shirt collector (amongst so many other things) with a staggering collection of tees – that original 1994 Robert Deniro Taxi Driver t-shirt by Supreme? Yeh, he got it – and his hard-hitting designs demonstrate an innate understanding of the strength and immortality of screen-printing, when done properly. You know that dude walking down the road with kebab down his 1983 Thriller World Tour t-shirt with MJ’s face cracking and peeling off (print, I mean)? Mentally… he’s still there.
Along with the initial release, it is likely that Stray Rats will announce further releases as the season progresses. Last season this included a set of tank tops and gym shorts, as well as a collaborative collection with ex-Cult Ritual frontman, Dan Rossiter. As the brand continues to expand my only hope is that projects like this continue; the opportunity to bring something totally new to the table as well as provide insight into your passions and stimuli is one that not enough designers take.
Stray Rats is not available for purchase outside of the continental United States. This makes it a pain in the arse to get hold of for people like myself in the UK, but if you have a friend in the States who can proxy a purchase for you then it’s not too difficult. Real recognise real, Stray Rats is gonna be around for a while surely, so you’ve got plenty time to make plans.