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Phaze Clothing Interview

Phaze Clothing Interview

While the ideal is to be cunningly adroit at wielding a sewing machine or have enough cash to invest in some of the bespoke Gothic Couture designs, most of us need to make do with the “alternative high street”. Luckily there are a number of brands that provide us with great quality and variety. Providing us with an off the peg outfit – or even better a base for customization and accessorization! It’s always nice to find out a little bit about the companies you buy from, especially as you are not only lining their pockets, but are using them to create your personal fashion statement. Phaze is one such company, and I took the time to speak with Jackie Reynolds, Director at Phaze Clothing.

You have surpassed the monumental 25 years mark, to what do you attribute your success?

Phaze has survived 25 years of designing original and unusual fashion because we have a passionate team of designers, machinists and musicians who love being creative and seeing their designs in retailers throughout the world! This is backed up by a bespoke IT system which allows us to offer a fast processing and shipping service.

Have you found that the recession has affected your business? Why, why not and how?

The recession has had an effect on our sales but as we sell globally what we lose from one country is usually picked up by another. We are gaining lots of customers in Australia with our polka dot ranges, the Eastern Block countries with our hardcore punk ranges and the US with our steampunk ranges. There is no obvious best seller at the moment!

Could you tell me about the company’s beginnings? Who started it and what made you decide to cater for the alternative scene?

Phaze was started by myself and Martin Keegan with a group of enthusiastic friends from Newcastle Polytechnic. We decided to open a shop where we could cater for all aspects of music related clothing and accessories. We travelled to London and Manchester every month buying and trading garments with small independent companies like Boy London, Artistique and Sentimental, The Cavern, Jeep, Stargazer, Stylex and Directions. The shop was very successful and a second shop was opened in Middlesborough. Chris and Simon Donald of “Viz” magazine designed the logo and did all the artwork for the advertising and catalogues.

We then linked up with the Fashion Design Department at Newcastle Poly to create more ranges as the fashions changed. We exhibited at the Designer and Barker Brown Shows in London and then in France, Sweden and Germany. It was a limited but exciting niche market and our team all loved the fast paced excitement of creating awesome garments on a daily basis. We were very lucky that there are a lot of trained machinists locally who used to work for M + S or Next in the past. Without these lovely ladies we would never have been able to make such a vast range of garments in such a short space of time.

Being one of the major alternative brand names around, how do you find competition in the marketplace? How would you say you differ from what others have to offer?

When we first started there were very few companies in the UK manufacturing alternative clothing but now we have competition from all over the world. New and original competition is always welcome as it complements our designs and allows the “scenes” to grow. Watered down imitations of good designs are not well received.

Who designs and makes your clothing? Why have you chosen to keep this all local and in-house?

We have a full design studio, factory and warehouse in Newcastle where we produce all our ranges from our huge stocks of patterns, fabrics and trimmings which we have sourced from all over the world. We have a constant stream of freelance and student “placement” designers from the local colleges and our fulltime sample machinists and patterngraders can make everything form a corset to a wedding gown.

We have had garments made in Bali, Pakistan, India and China in the past but we now prefer to make them all in house as it is difficult to control the quality and fit when you are not on site. If a customer needs a certain size quickly we can make it up instantly. This is what gives us our flexibility.

Where is the strangest or furthest place you have supplied?

We have sent styles to Dubai, Brunei(sunglasses) and once a corset to the owner of Ann Summers!

How many alternative people do you employ within the business? Do you think it’s important to keep in touch with the scene you supply?

Our staff range from the apprentice warehouse lad with the full Mohican to the 65 year old machinist with the blue rinse who loves working with pvc (she once asked how to spell it?) We are a good mix of creativity, practicality and Geordie humour!

The music scene is very important to us and we sponsor a variety of bands, showmen and dancers including Sunday League, Lies of Smiles, Tiago della Vega, Crystal Viper, Chris Cross and Touch Too Wild.

What inspires you?

Most inspiring person to date is my flatmate at Leeds Poly who was one of the original punks complete with black bag and pin through her nose who took me to see the Sex Pistols!!!!!!.

Any last words?

We are always looking for freelance designers, photographers and models as we intend to be around for a few more years to come!!
Photos By Mark Perry