Irish owned Swallows & Daggers clothing line is making a name for itself on the international street wear stage. What started off as an under-funded Dublin based tattoo magazine has now transformed into an online store and blog that receives nearly 250,000 hits a month. Cian Wright, founder of Swallows & Daggers is establishing a presence among some of the top street wear brands, with the SS12 drop is receiving a fair share of attention in the UK and America.
Neo-traditional tattoo artist, Simon Erl from London initially pitched the idea of a once-off Swallows & Daggers t-shirt, and unknowingly the label was conceived. Hand drawn by Erl, the debut S&D t-shirt is a tattoo-turned-design with a stencil feel. “That was our first shirt, we did 50 of those and they sold out pretty much overnight. Once we saw how the first shirt went it was something that I thought needed a bit more attention.” This season, artists such as Matt Skiff, Clark Orr and Zach Shuta were invited to design for the label. Wright says the brand is, and always will be based on tattoo imagery. SS12 sees graphics inspired by iconic old-school characters like Mickey Mouse, resulting in traditional street wear with a modern twist. Wright says it is very important to incorporate tattoo culture into the brand, as he wants to give something back to his friends who are tattoo artists. His favorite tattoo artists right now include Mark Cross of East River Tattoo in New York, Argentinean artist Piranha and Simon Erl who is “always a favourite.”
Major cities worldwide are experimenting with street wear, with the fashion conscious coveting it more than ever. Here in Dublin, the arrival of The Blind Tiger Collective, a street wear initiative which includes brands such as Grandpa Woolf and Sick Studs have filled the niche that Dublin lacked. Wright holds a lot of respect for these brands, claiming the brains behind Dublin street wear labels are “trying something different but nobody sees it, you go to stores in the UK or Ireland and you always get the same American brands.”
Specialising in menswear only, Wright is waiting to cross paths with a suitable designer to start on the female range. “I straight-up want to stay away from copying prints onto smaller t-shirts.” The debut women’s line will feature new graphics on tailored tees. Girls, keep your eyes peeled. Check out the Swallows & Daggers ‘grab box’, a wonderfully strange conception whereby the customer pays a discount price of £20 for two t-shirts that S&D choose for you. It’s like buying a surprise for yourself. “Some people don’t get it, but other people love it because they get t-shirts that you can’t buy online anymore.”
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