With a string of rappers and Grime MC's such as Skepta, Frisco and Rejjie Snow rocking the brand's gear, Set - the streetwear brand founded in Middlesbrough by Jack Richardson some four or five years ago - is pretty hot right now.
Set's combo of wearability and straight up design are coupled with a wallet-pleasing price point, making it a firm favourite today among streetwear and menswear enthusiasts, often worn alongside the likes of Palace, Comme Des Garcons PLAY, Vans and Supreme, as you might expect.
Set's growth has been very organic over the past four years - there’s obviously a load of graft that goes in before Skepta and co begin snapping your hats on the ‘Gram, but there's no pretense about the operation; it's refreshing for a streetwear operation to be so humble.
As the brand has grown, so have the complexity and quality of Set's product range, which now includes signet rings and bumbags while the brand's infamous S 6 panels come served up on an embroidered Champion cap. Hailing from the same town as Jack Richardson, the guy behind the scenes at Set, it's been exciting to watch the brand grow and grow over the years. I've been keen to interview him for quite some time and I'm pleased that we've finally made it happen. Check out our exchange below to learn more about Set and the innately humble designer behind its success.
2015 was quite a year for you. What were your highlights?
The biggest highlight has to be Skepta wearing one of the S Caps. I woke up in a hotel in Newcastle. checked my phone at like 9 with hundreds of notifications on Instagram. One of them was ‘@Skeptagram tagged you in a photo’. I just started jumping around the hotel room, I really couldn’t believe it.
Set started out with quite an outdoors focus. How has the brand changed and evolved over the years?
I always liked the thought of having an outdoor focus but I think streetwear culture and that scene attached to it a lot quicker. I hope in the future, I will start to work on more products with a focus on the outdoors. I have some Knitted Fleeces & Polartech 6 Panels coming out as part of SS16 which I’m really excited about. The brand is an extension of myself, it’s about development. If I did the same stuff I was making when I started I wouldn’t be here now. Change is good.
What influences you?
I get a lot of inspiration off the internet because I see stuff on Instagram & Tumblr every day and I’m like ‘wow that's cool’, but for actual clothes, it's more from people I see in real life. Like clothes I see people wearing - colours, patterns and styles - it’s all from what people are actually wearing in the street or something my friends say they think would be cool, mainly my close friend Luke. He’s had some awesome input into the brand these past few months.
The problem with getting ideas off the internet is you don’t know how many people have seen that reference, so I much prefer to source ideas from experiences.
"You see artists that have made it but you don’t see all the times they played shows for free, ran for the bus and slept on their friends floor, everything takes time." - Jack Richardson, Set.
Do you recall the first brand you really got into and what it was about it that got you interested in clothes?
The first brand is tricky because I have all these memories as a kid about clothes, I remember seeing my dad wearing like Maine fleeces and CAT jumpers when I was a kid, I always used to think they were cool - the different symbols and logos. Going to Sports Direct as a kid and seeing all of the different brands and you would know, even at like 13, you know what’s cool and stuff. Like one year I remember my mom buying me some jeans for non-uniform day. I didn’t like the fit so I took them to my grandma's house and she helped me alter them. But like even knowing that it was possible to change a pair of jeans at that age, at like 15, is a pretty big deal I think, but I just knew how i wanted them to look at the time.
There's not a huge amount going on in the North East in terms of menswear or streetwear, what made you decide to start a brand?
Yeah, that’s very true. I started Set as a project when I was studying Graphic Design. Then I left college, I wasn’t going to university and didn’t have a job so I just decided to continue it - making a few hats & selling them on Facebook & Ebay. The main influence was 100% the internet, being able to show ideas and market something so quickly made me believe it could work I guess.
"I just want to keep creating affordable clothes people can enjoy wearing. It’s all about the people, I don’t want disposable clothes, I want Set to be a staple and to grow with my customers." - Jack Richardson, Set.
If money wasn't an object, what one item of clothing would you put out?
Shoes. I want to design a pair of Vans so much.
What's the vision for Set, where would you like to take this brand?
Yeah, I just want to work on releasing stronger collections, so hopefully in the near future I will have more time to focus on developing some pieces I’ve had down for a while... but it’s all about timing, I don’t want to rush into anything - it’s all about being natural with it.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a brand?
It’s not easy but if you have a solid idea and you’re up for putting the work in then do it. Just enjoy it as much as you can there isn’t one simple way to make your brand a success, unless you friends with someone famous haha, and even that isn’t always the key to success.
The truth is you’re going to have a lot of hard work ahead of you but if you’re up for it and you’re willing to donate the time, it will work the same as anything like music and art. You see artists that have made it but you don’t see all the times they played shows for free, ran for the bus and slept on their friends floor, everything takes time.
What music are you into and how much of an influence does that have on Set?
if I’m honest I listen to alot of Chief Keef, Young Thug and Future day-to-day because it makes me feel good, ya know.
Music is so important to me, like I used to listen to Skepta at school when it was all about bluetoothing songs and with Wiki from Ratking, I remember seeing him freestyling on Youtube on the aNYthing blog when I first started Set in 2012. I thought he was dope, so to see them both (Ratking) develop as artists and reach the point they are at now is important to me because they both came from humble backgrounds. It shows that you can make it, you know?
I listen to everything from like Grime to Nirvana but some of the current stuff I’m listening to includes...
Anything by Bones but I really love BANSHEE so much
Wiki - 93
Skepta & Plastic Man Rinse FM 2006
Skepta - Microphone Champion
Yung Lean - Unknown Memory
Travis Scott - Owl Pharaoh
I listen to these on YouTube like at least once a week, when I’m at home or in the office. I’ve been listening to a lot of Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty and Kodak Black this year: they are all like next up, so it makes sense I guess... There’s so much music man, it’s hard to name everything!
Looking ahead to a new year, what can we expect from Set in 2016?
More consistent releases, a better product choice & some products I’ve been promising people for a while, like the signet rings. I just want to keep creating affordable clothes people can enjoy wearing. It’s all about the people, I don’t want disposable clothes, I want Set to be a staple and to grow with my customers.