Colourway – Spring/Summer 2013 – First Light

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When I wrote my article about start-up brands a few months back, it was generally well received amongst people I spoke to. One of my biggest frustrations was with brands that tried to present their finite collection of ideas as something bigger – to paraphrase another article of mine, high expectations in the face of minor accomplishment.

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I guess one of the things that is worth remembering is that a ‘proper’ brand will only begin to look as such when it’s got the kind of product that backs it up. I’ve developed a habit, nowadays, of using phrases like ‘t-shirt company’ and ‘mini brand’ to further distinguish what I consider proper operations from guys messing around on Adobe Illustrator with some Gildan blanks. I was fortunate last night, then, to receive an email from graphic designer & textile printer Christian Taylor.

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Colourway is a new brand, founded by Taylor, as an outlet for his own designs as well as a celebration of the environmental stimuli that surrounds him. He explains that developing the first collection has been a slow process, primarily as he has taken the time to ensure that everything is done correctly and in line with his vision. Working outwards from the brand’s ‘Everything Incorporated’ tagline, he has attempted to absorb influences from all aspects of his life to create an ‘honestly cultured’ collection. Their debut collection is aptly titled ‘First Light’, and consists of t-shirts, crewnecks, beanies, caps and a cruiser skateboard deck.

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The tees are a great start, introducing a simple logo t-shirt amongst several other designs. I like how bold the prints look on the white in their simplicity – the ‘Have a Good Forever’ design especially pops. Also featured are three t-shirts that were produced in collaboration with Clay Hickson, a Chicago-based artist whose work particularly reflects upon the positivity of 1960’s counter culture.

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The stand-out for me, however, is the ’21.22’ design. Allegedly inspired by a mirror-ball late one night, it looks like they got their homage spot on. I love how organic the placement of the dots looks, and can’t see a t-shirt that clean sitting around long.

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Elsewhere, Colourway have produced two terry-cotton crewnecks with stitched ‘v’ inserts – an all-seasons piece with some durable features implemented. A selection of beanies, in both cashmere and lambs wool, alongside some five panel caps, shows promise in the brand’s commitment to incorporate everything. The ‘Hancock’ beanie looks great, especially for a brand that’s only just stepped into the fore.

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The collection sounds off with a ‘Penny Whistle’ cruiser deck. Described by Taylor as ‘an ode to jazz and childhood memories’, a simple four-colour screenprint conjures images of horns exploding in colour and sound to me. It reminds me of something that Habitat skateboards might do, or perhaps Alien Workshop, so it’s nice to see him pick the right design for the medium as well.

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I was really impressed by Colourway. Taylor has clearly taken the time to make sure his first offering is full of promise. There’s a focused identity amongst the splashes of colour and under-spoken tones, but he’s letting the clothes set the stage rather than trying to bung an A3-frame onto a Polaroid. The vision is clear and I genuinely like the graphics he’s used.

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It would definitely be interesting to see what else they can do in the ‘cut & sew’ department – this is exactly the type of brand I could see doing some nice raglans or perhaps a baseball shirt. There’s something inherently ‘sunny’ in that name, especially with that simple smile logo, so I hope Taylor explores that more as he develops his brand further. Judging from how he’s presented himself, he has his head screwed on and takes himself seriously enough to turn this promising start into a full-fledged force to be reckoned with. He’s already been picked up by Bristol’s Donuts who also stock Trapstar, Bake Designs, Ranks London and Too Much – all independent UK brands. Clearly I’m not the only person who thinks this one is also going somewhere.

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Colourway’s ‘First Light’ collection launches today, and is available from their online store right now. Donuts will be getting the collection very soon, so Bristol residents should think about heading down to Perry Road to check this stuff out over the coming weeks. Running alongside the collection is the brand’s Shapes in Sound series that will see Colourway showcasing musical offerings by selected artists, the first being Jay L with a very slick Soul mix – put some headphones on and dip out for a bit, trust me. Christian Taylor has also just joined the website Trieyes as a contributor, so check back there to get a better idea of who he is and what he does. I’ll be watching closely.

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