Founded back in 2010, it didn’t take LA start up CLSC long to start making waves on the US streetwear scene. With their american sportswear inspired designs and their tongue-in-cheek motifs, it was a refreshing introduction into a market swamped by brands churning out the same logo designs season after season. Still a fairly recent addition to the UK, CLSC caught our attention in the Autum/Winter season of last year. Having caused a stir at trade shows over in the states, the brand was picked up by a handful of stores this side of the pond, and we were lucky enough to shoot a lookbook for their AW14 collection, a chance to check out the release first hand. Despite not taking themselves too seriously when it came to their graphics and slogans, the cut, fit and material of each piece was second to none and I was really impressed by the overall direction of the brand.
Recently, the opportunity to share some words with Josh, the man behind CLSC, came up and besides finding out more on the history of the brand, I was interested to get his thoughts on developing and building a brand in the current climate. I read through his previous interviews and I liked his honesty and sense of humour, but also how clear he was on where he wants to take CLSC. You can tell his personality and the personalities of those around CLSC are reflected in the designs and the overall feel of the brand, and because of that everything they push out feels authentic.
With their latest collection for Summer 2015 dropping in the UK, we caught up with Josh on running CLSC, talked inspirations and also got his view on the industry. Check out the full interview below….
Prior to starting CLSC you worked for some other big names in the industry, most notably The Hundreds. Were there any lessons learnt that you took with you into CLSC?
Of course. I’m extremely fortunate to have been a part of the brands I worked for. I like to look at it as a streetwear college in a sense. I was able to see the mistakes and positive moves that these brands made while I was with them, not to mention all the people I met along the way. Now I can formulate all the knowledge and experience I gained into CLSC. Thank you The Hundreds, Seventh Letter, and SSUR.
Can you recall the moment you realised that you were on to a winner with CLSC?
I would say our first trade show. It was the first time I was able to physically see the amount of support and interest in the brand via buyers, blogs, industry veterans, etc.
If you could go back to the launch of CLSC, is there anything you would differently?
Nope. Everything has been a lesson learnt and we’re fortunate to be in the position we’re in today. No complaints.
CLSC is a short for classic but you also came up with the acronym “Can’t Live Scared of Change” from the name. What does this mean to you and how do you reinforce this through the way in which you run the brand?
Can’t live scared of change is pretty straight forward. I just do my best to create innovative product whilst staying true to CLSC’s roots. Make better product than the competition at a lower price and incorporate sex, drugs, sports and good music into anything that comes out of the brand.
We see lots of brands come and go, with some big one minute and gone the next, while others struggle to even get off the ground. As a fairly young brand that has managed to push through the start up barriers and is now gaining attention worldwide, what are your thoughts on the current market and what do you feel it takes to establish yourself in it?
The “market” is growing and attracting more eyes/dollars globally which is an amazing thing for an industry that was non existent 30ish years ago. There’s a lot of terrible brands out there but there’s also a solid amount of really good shit, you just have to dig deeper than before. In order to establish yourself, you have to stand out and have some sort of business structure. It’s not just about being creative, you also have to know how to grow your business. Anyone can make a t-shirt graphic and print it. The challenge is doing it AND then to sell/market it.
I’ve heard you talk in previous interviews about longevity, how you have and will continue to avoid jumping on the “bandwagon” so to speak. Do you feel this is why a lot of brands fail?
Hell yeah. All these trendy brands are supported by “kids” who know nothing about fashion or style, or anything besides how many followers they got that day. These “kids” are going to continue to hop from trendy shit to trendy shit. So, if you’re only following trends, what do you do after and how do you get those kids to come back?
A lot of people get to see the brands through social media and see more of the glamorous side of what it’s like to run a clothing company. You’ve stated how being in the industry has opened up a lot of doors for you, but you’ve also been pretty honest about the struggle and the challenges you’ve faced. What’s been the toughest thing for you owning and running your own clothing label?
The LA lifestyle of a 20-something year old, who enjoys drinking, smoking, fucking and eating fast food, blacked out at 5am doesn’t mix well with waking up in the morning and being productive. Not to mention all that shit takes up all your money. But I guess that’s all part of growing up and getting your shit together.
You’re originally from Inland Empire, just outside of LA. Do you like in LA now?
I lived in LA from 2010 – 2013. Now I live back in the IE.
How did moving to LA affect your life in general?
Moving to LA changed everything. CLSC would definitely not be in the position it is today. I would have never met all the people I’ve met, meaning I would never have worked for the brands I did and would never have learned all the shit that I did. Besides, how many successful brands do you know that are based in a rural area outside of a big city? None.
There’s a great streetwear scene in LA, with the likes of The Hundreds, HUF, FUCT, to name a few, representing the area well through their designs and each offering up something different. What aspect of the LA culture do you think CLSC represents?
Getting fucked up, having fun and eating good ass food !
I’m interested to know what goes on behind the scenes at CLSC. You’ve mentioned before how there was 6 of you at the start of it all. What does the CLSC office look like now and what’s everyone’s role?
Adam (tech pack/Online Manager/customer service) sits in front of me. Ron (West Coast Sales/do nothinger) sits to the right of me. Red (Sales Manager/make shit happen guy) sits behind me in front of the AC unit. It smells like a weird mix of BO, Carne Asada burritos and Red’s feet, which kinda smells like good parmesan cheese. We have a small photo studio to shoot product or for moulding pics for Instagram. Oh yeah, there’s samples EVERYWHERE.
Many of your designs are athletic inspired, as well as incorporating humorous graphics and slogans. Are these themes reflective of your personality/interests? What inspires them?
Definitely. Like I said in the previous questions, everything that comes out of CLSC incorporates my 4 interests: sex, drugs, sports and good music. My family and homies inspire me.
Do you feel it’s important to not take yourself too seriously in this industry?
Yes and no. Take yourself seriously because unfortunately life is real as fuck and you need to figure it out. Don’t take yourself too seriously because nobody likes “that guy” who thinks he knows everything and always has a stick up his ass.
Aside from designing for CLSC, do you have any other creative outlets? Music, art etc?
I used to play the drums a lot but don’t have much time for that anymore. I was and still am really fucking good though. I like to paint here and there but it all comes down to having time for those things. As much as I want to say CLSC only takes up 40 hours a week, CLSC is on my mind all day every damn day. Even on the toilet. That’s where I get most of my work done.
I always sucked at skateboarding but I also always loved it. From playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater to just watching the homies rip at the park, I’ve always been attracted to the sport or whatever you wanna call it. I would definitely like to somehow figure out the balance between skate and street but it’s not my focus at the moment.
So you linked up with Primitive on the “Morning After” pack last year, something slightly different from what we usually see with collaborations. How did this come about and what was the thought process behind it?
Honestly we were eating lunch and I was like “Yo! Let’s do a collab!”. They were down and I wanted to do something different than the usual t-shirt or hat collab. Both brands incorporate drugs and alcohol with our graphics and we always get fucked up together so it just made sense. The execution of the entire pack came out amazing.
Are there any more (collabs) on the way this year?
Yup. You’ll have to wait and see!
Any brands you would like to work with in the future?
Bape, Cactus Cooler, In-N-Out, The New York Yankees and more.
Having gained popularity in the US and a lot of interest overseas at trade-shows, you are now being stocked in some high profile retailers across the globe. Are you selective with where CLSC is available?
Definitely. Every store we’re in is because we want to be not the other way around.
Could you talk us through your latest collection?
Sex, drugs, sports and good music.
Any final words to CLSC fans?
Man, thank you to anyone who fucks with us. I’d still be working at Starbucks and hating life if it wasn’t for y’all. To anyone who DOESN’T fuck with us, thanks for hating cuz you only fuel the fire. And everyone who doesn’t know what CLSC is? Keep your eyes peeled cuz we’re coming in hot! Cheers y’all.
You can find out more on CLSC and their latest releases over on their web store www.clsclife.com. You can also see the CLSC Summer 2015 lookbook HERE
Words: Kieran Sills
Imagery courtesy of CLSC