I recently met Freddie Webb and Aldo Kahane at High above the Street pop up shop in Leeds. They run 1INA100, a fashion brand that gives artists a platform to enter the competitive world of art and design. As someone who spent a lot of time trying to break into this industry, theirs is a concept I have a lot of time for. I caught up with them to get the lowdown on 1INA100, the t-shirt as a canvas and elephant poo.
We are Freddie Webb and Aldo Kahane and we are the founders of 1ina100. Aldo comes from a Fine Art and Design background and Freddie a Music and Design one. We got to know each other through mutual friends and came together to create 1ina100 as we shared a similar vision and ideas.
Where did you get the idea for 1INA100?
1ina100 came originally as a response. We both love art and design and were pretty fed-up with the mass-produced clothing that many established brands are churning out.
We both love art and design and were pretty fed-up with the mass-produced clothing that many established brands are churning out.
Lots of our friends doing art degrees have really struggled after university to make the transition into the professional art and design world, and it seemed that such a waste of talent was taking place. With online platforms, in our opinion, now extremely saturated with artists’ work it is becoming increasingly difficult for real emerging talent to be weeded out from the rest.
We chose T-shirts as an initial platform: it seemed to us that in the art world they are often seen as just disposable pieces of merchandise which devalue the artist’s work and in the fashion world as the afterthought of a fashion line.
How did you take your first steps from business idea to creating the brand and getting your first products produced?
First we outlined our brand: it would: support emerging interdependent artists/designers and be facilitated through small-scale, high-quality and limited edition production.
We then collaborated with the great guys over at Us (www.weareus.co.uk) to create a brand identity. The idea and brand was then fully realised and 1ina100 came to life in early 2010. We then went about sourcing some inspiring emerging artists, ranging from Felix C Melia, a sculptor, to James Kirkup, a graphic designer. The first released designs were finalised by June 2010, and the manufacturing of our custom-made garments was completed towards the end of July. We wanted to challenge ourselves to see if a project of this scale could be set up within a year. Not only did we set up the company, we also took our first order from Savile Row situated ‘B Store’ in September that year. I think at that stage we realized ‘hey, we must be doing something right’.
Your t-shirts are very well crafted and individual. Could you explain a bit about your processes and materials that set you apart?
We have always given every component of what the customer receives a significant amount of attention. Starting with the base T shirt: we sourced a great manufacturer and choose a slightly heavier weight cotton (185gsm), which is off-white to reflect the canvas the garment provides for the artists. Over the past year we have had several companies approach us asking for the supplier of our T shirts.
For printing the artwork we work closely with Paul October, who has over 23 years’ experience in the silk screening profession. We travel up to his studio in Nottingham from London for every run of printing we do to ensure the final print is correct and – crucially – that the artists’ work is not lost in any way. As all our printing is done by hand there is a lot of skill and time involved. However this we have found produces far superior results and gives each print a subtle uniqueness: as the amount of ink and the pressure applied on the screens will vary slightly, no two prints will be exactly the same.
Each garment is then numbered out of 100 by hand by one of the 1ina100 team; as well as editioning the print this also helps to ensure quality control. The garment is then inserted into its envelope with a hand-signed business card from the the individual artist.
1ina100 is a superb way of allowing anyone to afford a piece of original art, and to us the T-shirt is simply an alternative canvas to exhibit the artist’s work. As with conventional prints, by having each garment hand-numbered and signed the customer knows that they are taking away something of unusual quality and with rarity value.
We feel strongly that with manufacturing any product comes a responsibility for your ethical and environmental decisions.
Our new packaging is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper collected from schools and businesses around the UK. During the papermaking process the manufacturers add their own secret ingredient: dried elephant dung. This is bought from a charitable foundation in Sri Lanka which helps older elephants past their working age, as well as assisting the people who look after them. The paper is made at a mill in Hertfordshire on one of the oldest paper-making machines in the country. The mill is also a charity/heritage site that helps advise schools and businesses on sustainability. The “ellie poo” paper used in 1ina100’s envelopes has been awarded the NAPM (National Association of Paper Makers) 100% recycled mark.