For 3 years now Tom has been running his brand Slackjaw Apparel, and what a journey it has been so far. With a number of designs containing a reference to alcohol you may feel that Tom has a slight drinking problem, and you may be right, but at least he puts it to good use! Having made in into magazines like GQ the brand is now starting to receive the accolades that it deserves. We thought we would catch up with Tom before he got to famous and we missed the opportunity! Here's how it went...
Good morning, afternoon and evening. Please can you give us a quick introduction.
Hey, I’m Tom 29, from SW London!
Other than being totally badass, what does a normal day consist of?
Strong coffee, dick around on Instagram and pack orders. Eating a triple layer sandwich at some point and look at Harley’s on eBay for at least an hour. That and obviously work, really hard.
Can we trade lives? Haha. Now, by the sounds of things, bikes will be one of the three but what are your top three interests?
Bikes, Beer and Photography.
I guessed it! Beer and photography are a great number two and three as well. Who are your role models/inspirations?
A lot of the Slackjaw designs are formed from some background of a particular song or movie that has struck a chord. I could be listening to some Hank Williams Jr or watching Easy Rider for the 100th time and an idea starts looming!
I had noticed that you have a very ‘redneck/western’ look for most of your items. I can understand why when the outcome is as great as it is. When did you start Slackjaw and what was your motivation behind it?
I started Slackjaw Apparel in the summer of 2013. I was thinking about it for a while before that. What really pushed me was the inspiration from other brands and love for anything Old West, cowboy, biker related. That was the coal on the fire. I drew the first two Slackjaw Apparel designs myself as an experiment and put them on a couple tees. After a good reception, it really just grew from there and before I knew it I was balls deep, got the bug and didn't want to do anything else!
That’s awesome man! I’m glad the first few T’s went well otherwise who knows whether you would be where you are now. What have you found to be the thing you most enjoy about running a brand? At the same time, what would be the least enjoyable?
I’d have to say one of the most enjoyable things about running a brand full time, which I’ve been doing for the last year now, is total self dependency and being your own boss. On the other hand, it’s also one of the hardest things to deal with! You never really know how things are gonna pan out. Just gotta roll the dice!
Ye I get that. The idea of being my own boss one day is what keeps me going. I’m sure it’s a lot harder at the beginning but the reward is worth the risk. Where do you draw inspiration from for new collections?
I always try to stay within the realms of what Slackjaw is about but it’s always good to experiment! I’ve done this with the most recent collection, injecting some colour into our designs and mixed it up a little. I guess the inspiration like I mentioned before comes a lot from the music I’m listening to, a memorable scene from a movie or, as in our current collection, a nostalgic beer advert! We teamed up with Matt Sabbath who delivered exactly what we needed! A nostalgic Americana vibe which is what our current range is all about!
Ah that’s cool. It’s good that you can find inspiration that is already interesting you. It makes it a lot easier than having to force a reason for a design. Are there any lines that you hope to introduce in the future? Like sweaters or headwear?
I’m always wanting to introduce new lines, we do predominantly tees and sleeveless at the moment, what with it being summer, but certainly looking to introduce some more raglans and potentially other garments for fall. I’ve also got a possible new section to the store entirely opening up before the years out, so watch this space!
Wicked man, I’ll definitely keep my eyes out for that! I know that the brand has been featured in a number of publications, which one has been the most surprising so far? Have there been any that you thought, ‘holy shit, is this happening?’
Well GQ was a biggie. In all honesty I wasn't sure we were really suited for that mag, but I’m proud that we were asked to be featured, just a small snippet of our ‘Freedom is a Full Can’ tee but none the less, pretty chuffed!
For me though, the one that took me by surprise was our first appearance in ‘Classic Rock Magazine’. Slackjaw was selected to feature in the ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ column! I Was over the moon with that one as I bloody love that mag!
GQ is always a massive opportunity to get the brand known to a wider audience so I’m not surprised you took the chance to feature there. Congrats on being in Classic Rock Magazine man. It’s a great feeling when you get a chance to work with those who you have admired. Over the years, out of all the pieces you have released could you pick one item that is your favourite?
The Rambler tee. For me, its Slackjaw personified. I wear the Rambler tee all the time, mines got holes in it and the sleeves chopped off and various stains but thats why I love it! That tee has become a staple for the brand and had numerous restocks, I think its earned its stripes!
Most people have struggled with that question so I’m glad to have someone who knows exactly what their favourite is! I must say, it is a great design so I’m not surprised. Are their any brands, models etc that you would like to work with in the future?
There’s a couple state side photographers I’m chatting to at the moment and models wise, would love to set up a shoot with Ricki Hall at some point, nice bloke and well suited!
Ricki Hall is the man. There are a few guys out there killing it at the moment and he is definitely one of them. Have there been any particular moments that you couldn’t believe how far you have come and everything you have accomplished?
I’m pretty modest, but my first real sense of accomplishment on how the brands progressed was after the London Tattoo Convention back in September last year. After that show, I was exhausted, drunk and smelled bad but I felt good.
Well if you’re at this years show I hope it’s even bigger and better for you! We’re coming to a close now but one question I must ask, and it’s one I ask everyone, what is the best piece of advice you have been given, and what is the best piece you can give?
The best piece of advice I’ve been given is staying positive and holding your nerve when times are tough. It’s advice I try and live by when the shit hits the fan, but it’s easier said than done!
Positivity is definitely the way forward. Other than being the best in the business, what are your main goals to accomplish with the brand?
Down the line I’d like to have a small store somewhere. It’s something I planned even before it all started. Already got ideas on how I want it to look and crap I want on the walls ( not actual crap ). Would love to eventually have a permanent haven of everything Slackjaw Apparel in one place that people could swing in, chill, leave their bikes outside have a beer and shoot the shit!
Damn, that sounds like a bloody good store to me! I can’t wait to visit it one day. This question can be either personal or business, or both! Where do you hope to be in 12 months time?
America! Haha, a bunch of our customers are in the US these days so would love to have something set up over there. It’s a mammoth of a task but you gotta aim high…right!?
To right you have to aim high, if you don’t then who knows how far you could have got! What can we hope to see from Slackjaw in the next month or so?
We have a few things in the pipeline, ideas I’m playing around with, we’ll potentially be introducing a brand new section to the store before the years out but can’t reveal too much at the moment. For the time being we are mostly preparing for Autumn / Winter products but we have a couple of cheeky releases coming very soon!
We always finish with five fun questions. Would you rather...
…be able to speak all languages or be able to speak to animals? All languages.
…be a wizard or a ninja? Ninja. Obviously.
…always know when someone is lying or always get away with lying? Know when someone’s lying.
…be the opposite gender for a day or be a kid again for a day? Opposite gender…
…be over dressed or under dressed? Under dressed. Every time.
Text Kiefer Horlock
Images Tom Laurance
Models Zac Ruin & Jake Quentin Lewis-Hurn