An Interview With BackToBack Clothing

Tell us a little about how BacktoBack clothing was formed and its original objective?

BACKTOBACK was formed after having an argument with my parents about how shit my job was and realised the gap in the market for a quality clothing brand built on the dance floor. There is nothing on the market in terms of clothing that makes people feel part of the rave culture, whereas skateboarding and surfing there is loads out there.

From then I joined with my partner Athena, who was studying branding and advertising at Nottingham Trent University. This is when we began incorporating ethical values to inspire people to come together for the love of music. After looking back at the importance flyers had from 1988 we felt it was our duty to bring the rave heritage back by using eye catching, playful graphics. Something that seems to have been lost due to the ease of advertising on social media.

Where are you guys based and what’s the music scene like here?

We have recently moved from Nottingham back to London which is where we were both born. Well Northside and Southside to be exact. Nottingham’s electronic music scene has been a huge influence whilst building the foundations of the brand, a place where some of the early raves took place. In the past years we have been there it has always been the big clubs holding most of the events, but recently there is more underground events going on, where they have managed to secure great DJs! This is really important as its opening people up to all different genre’s and artists.

Also, the house parties in Nottingham are on another level, held in huge houses with basements that are packed out and big DJs like Latmun and Solardo dropping in to jumping on the decks. With the likes of Plates Record Store holding our Summer 18 launch party and becoming our first stock list, we built great relationships with the guys who run the shop there. Unfortunately, this is now sadly closed like many other independent stores, which makes it even more important for us to provide a platform for creatives to work together. As for London, it’s so diverse and there’s something going on every weekend for all different tastes, so we are buzzing to be home and have it all back on our doorstep.

Is fashion sense and keeping up appearances important in today’s rave scene? What’s your take on the matter?

We think unlike any other scene, raving fashion is extremely experimental and used as an excuse to wear whatever you want, which is great! We personally wear things to raves that we wouldn’t wear down the street – it gives you that freedom. But we do think a lot being worn is very similar and lacks individuality. I mean when you look back 30 years and see the way people dressed in the rave compared to now, barely anyone was wearing the same thing.

People will always want to keep up with appearances especially with the constant influence of social media. But the impact social media is having on people buying fashion through impulse is seriously impacting the way people buy into brands. For some reason, all meaning behind the collection and consideration for the environment goes out the window just because an influencer is wearing it. Hence why we felt it was our job to give people limited run, one-off printed rave wear that not everyone could wear and didn’t come at the cost of our people or planet.

We see the rave scene grow larger day in day out in all genres. Does this help in terms of sales with people wanting to look and feel good on the dance floor?

Yeah, as the community grows bigger, more people are looking for things to make them feel part of the rave scene, aside going to events and festivals. This is what BACKTOBACK does. Because our values resonate with the values embedded early into ravers and the rave scene, people respect that and like the honesty. The rave scene is one that really struggles against the press and the public, often receiving a lot of stick, but the growing community continues to show the strength of the scene and our clothes give people another outlet to express their love for raving and its roots.

Your clothing brand has become quite popular amongst the underground parties especially in the house/ techno industry. Which parties are you digging now?

We’re very loyal to Nottingham as they really helped us find our feet and get out there, so definitely underground parties to check out would be anything our good friends Movement put on. They bring big artists like Josh Butler, OC & Verde, Gaist & Jacky to Market Bar in Nottingham for an intimate party, although this venue has recently closed too! Parties held by Where You At, a Nottingham run event are always fantastic! They bring upcoming DJs through to the underground music scene and offer something completely different, their residents and guests playing a range of music from disco to heavy techno.

WYA have had some big names play alongside their residents such as Adam Shelton and Pawsa, both these parties went off – but what’s good is they don’t rely on these huge names, their residents are always bringing fresh beats to the underground scene. We’ve also ventured into Birmingham to work with Altern-8 (the OG in Acid) alongside The Acid Experiment who are definitely worth hitting up if you fancy a packed-out acid party. We really love anything Birmingham put on, they know how to take you back to an era that a lot of us didn’t get to experience, but know so much about.

Which artist would you love to see wear a piece of your clothing?

Getting Chris Liebing in our brand would be sick because we share similar perspectives on how humans are having an impact on the environment and feel his backing would be powerful for the brand. Also, we would be very happy to see Carl Cox wearing one of our tees. This is obviously a popular opinion amongst most, but there’s a reason for that. We take a huge amount of inspiration from the artwork that was used on flyers to promote him back in the day and he is the king on the scene, definitely knows how to bring the party to any venue, so that’s the ultimate goal!

Promoting your brand has become more common over social media. Which domains do you find most effective e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

Instagram is king for us because it’s a great way to show visuals and communicate with our party-people. People seem to find it much easier giving us feedback and asking questions on Instagram. It’s bloody time consuming getting back to everyone but we love hearing what they’ve got to say and finding out what parties they are digging!

Are your sales generally directed at people who rave?

Yes, we predominantly direct sales towards the rave community because as ravers ourselves, we would love to see a brand that represents the culture in a positive light. Especially given the amount of negative press and club closures the scene seems to get, which gives ravers a bad stigma, this is actually what our latest collection BACKTOBACK Express is about. For us, we see many surfing or skateboarding brands in the rave despite half probably not skating or surfing. So that’s why we wanted our brand to really resonate with the rave scene, not only through our values but also through our visuals. It’s all about keeping the heritage of raving alive, and making people feel part of a community, so if people dig that then this is the brand for them.

Where do you see your brand in 5 years? Are you planning to venture into other countries?

Doing pop-up shops situated around festivals and clubs to give people a proper taste of BACKTOBACK in the UK. As for other countries, Amsterdam is definitely on the cards. We love the music scene there, we’ve been to the last two years of ADE and love how a whole city is overtaken by electronic dance music. They also have a great selection of independent retailers out there, so we think BACKTOBACK would fit in perfectly there.

What exciting products coming out should our fans be keeping an eye out for?

We are in the process of working closely with experts who are testing some new inks, so we’re hoping to bring this to the market for some one-off exclusive drops come 2019. It’s early stages, but very exciting and we think it’s something that can really change clothing in the rave if it’s done right. Also expect to see more collaborations over the coming year!

Where can people buy your products; do you have a website?

Yes, all our products are available through our online store and like buying tickets, we stagger our prices in phases to give our most loyal customers opportunities to buy our new releases at a 20% discount. We are speaking with a couple independent retailers in London at the moment to give short-runs of prints, so it’s worth keeping an eye out on our socials for upcoming news.

Questions from Kyle Feehily

August 15, 2018