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BEHIND THE BRAND: KING Apparel

Posted on November 25 2021

BEHIND THE BRAND: KING Apparel

Words by Keane Fletcher

Today is the day! Come on down to our newly opened store at Kawana Shopping World from 5pm and take part in our official launch party! With giveaways, music, free drinks and 25% off selected products it's definitely going to be a night not to be missed; all I can say is clear your schedules folks, cause we're waking up with hangovers.

But until then, we're finishing up our Behind The Brand series with a doozy! Next up on our roster of creators: UK-based Tim Hoad, former professional snowboarder and owner/co-founder of KING Apparel a brand that he kicked off with his friend and graphic designer Paul Linton way back in the early 2000's in the humble surroundings of London's East End.

A few fun facts: launching officially in 2003 with a small range of accessories and T-shirts, KING has grown into a brand that is sold and distributed on five different continents and in over 300 stores worldwide. And just like Hipland, they're passionate about the independent music scene! In fact, over the years KING has often been responsible for spotting new talent and helping to break artists in the formative years of their careers. Artists like Sway DasafoWretch32 and Plan B (just to name a few) have all been championed by the brand and have even featured in some of KING's advertising campaigns and editorials, going on to become household names in their own right. 

To celebrate KING's place on our shelves we sat down with Hoad to talk all things fashion, branding, and the importance of 'trusting your vision'.

You can check out some of their apparel here on the Hipland website and keep scrolling for our interview with Timmy Hoad below!

1- How did KING get started?

It was more about timing than anything, I was snowboarding professionally and Paul who I started the brand with was doing freelance graphic design. At the time I was doing a lot of clothing r&d for sponsors and also looking at other creative outlets. Streetwear didn't really exist back then and we came together with the idea to create a brand that represented everything that was good about the UK culture. We had absolutely no fashion background, no funding or any real idea of how to do it, we just approached it on a day by day basis, worked a lot of shitty jobs on the side and overcame each obstacle as it came and learnt on the job. Pretty mad looking back at it, it was a risk but we didn't see it that way, and our nature to hustle and do things not necessarily by the rule book definitely helped.

2- What was the original vision for the brand? Has it changed much over the years?

It hasn’t really ever changed from the desire to create a brand that was built on authenticity and integrity and to represent the culture and lifestyle we live with those values. The way we see it is that people contribute to the culture in different ways – designers, rappers, producers, content creators, actors etc and our contribution is to create the wardrobe that people want to wear and tells others – this is the lifestyle they live.

3- Was there a crucial tipping point that helped solidify your vision for KING?

Not really one thing but there were some key decisions we made that helped us to project the brand to where we wanted it to go. Our collaborations with New Era on the 5950 and starter on black label snapbacks were projects that we focused on early when no one else was looking at that and from there our hat game was cemented as one of the strongest globally. We still make hats that we know, outside the big sports licenses, no brand can compete with

4- Talk us through some of KING's biggest failures. What did you learn from them?

We’ve had some tricky situations with agents and distributors in the past, especially in new territories. That has resulted in some pretty big holes financially and generally people promising a lot and not delivering on it. My advise for anyone looking at expanding outside their domestic territory is to sound it all out personally first. Understand the territory, try and do the business with stores directly yourself if you can and do your due diligence on any partners you may end up working with so you know that they share your goals and visions. The growth of direct to consumer business has definitely made breaking new places easier as you dictate the narrative on everything, so you control the sales, marketing and most importantly the story.

5- How do you feel about being stocked in Australia?

It’s a big thing for us and we really rate the scene in Australia so we want to make sure we are in that conversation. Our mission in Australia is to emulate how we approached things in the UK and so foremost is making sure that we back and are connected to the culture over there. That includes working with the right talent – music artists etc and then the correct retailers -  independent stores that are a big part of their community, understand the scene and culture when it comes to the brands they stock and the customers they serve and have that magic dust in their set up that you will never find with a lot of the bigger retailers.

6- What are your hopes for the future of the brand?

Continue to build things with integrity and authenticity, work with the right stores and get the message out to the right followers who will understand the message, the story and the reason why they would buy into the KING vision. You will see some pretty major moves in the next couple of years, that we can guarantee.

7- What advice would you give to other up-and-coming brands and creators?

Trust your vision and be prepared to work harder than you’ve done before and make sacrifices that the majority of your peer group would not be prepared to do. Build a solid social and digital strategy across all of the key platforms and channel as much of that content into your direct to consumer ecomm model. Supplement that with key wholesale retailers and you’ll have a well layered credible business model from which you can grow. Oh, also forget what everyone else is doing. Do Not look at other brands and compare yourself. Nothing good comes from that. Stay 100% focused on your mission and the results will show. 

Thanks for stopping by Hipland!