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Fashion | Brand Focus: Real Gang

DJ Mag sits down with brand co-founder, DJ and producer Nicolau Caldeira to chat about Real Gang, the clothing company and record label creating a forward-thinking, underground community

In 2015, Nicolau Caldeira spent a summer in Ibiza with his step brother Pete and friend Miller. With a shared synchronicity when it came to underground music, and a vision for community and strong belief in the movement, the trio founded Real Gang. “The whole message of Real Gang was created from looking through definitions in the dictionary,” Nicolau says. “Real = not imitation or artificial; genuine. Gang = (of a number of people) form a group or gang. Real Gang = A group of genuine people in a movement.”

Initially, the vision for the brand was about the music - the trio had a love for the minimal, rolling sounds of the White Isle’s underground and beyond. “There wasn’t a lot of our sound out on the island, except for a couple of parties at places like Ibiza Underground, Cocoon and The Zoo Project,” Nicolau explains. “The clothing was something we wanted to tie into this, and make people feel like they’re a part of our story. You come to our parties, you wear our clothes, you become a member of the tribe - and we all vibe together.”

Since its launch, Real Gang has evolved organically alongside its Gang members. Now a label and party, as well as an established brand, everything the crew do is integral to its ethics in the early days. “The music we make and release, the clothes we create, the parties and people we work with… its all evolving the right way and true to who we are,” Nicolau says. In terms of their biggest achievements to date, Real Gang have held two fitting residencies in Ibiza - one at Ibiza Underground, and five open-air shows in Benimussa Park at The Zoo Project. Real Gang have also hosted two takeovers at London behemoth fabric, where Nicolau and Miller played b2b all night long.

 

When it comes to inspiration for the clothing line, Nicolau shares a seemingly endless list: “Books, podcasts, lyrics, other brands, artists, mentors...”. Each piece released by Real Gang has a meaning or message behind the designs. “Whether itʼs something thatʼs inspired us, or events that have happened along our journey together,” Nicolau affirms, “to be honest I never switch off with ideas, I always find something that sparks inspiration in the same way I dig for records. I make a cuppa, roll a joint to get into the flow, and get started. I usually find if something doesn’t work straight away, I’ll come back to it at a later date.”

All of Real Gang’s products are embroidered and screen-printed in house, and move from monochrome t-shirts with more simple designs, to pastel coloured hoodies emblazoned with flowers and bold imagery. Real Gang’s most recent capsule, REGENERATE — “reformed or reborn especially in a spiritual or moral sense” — features an array of items designed by Nicolau, and like the rest of the Gang’s collections, are limited to thirty pieces each. “Doing things in house is where we see the progression,” Nicolau says. “We learn new skills, and see Real Gang get better and better. We want to keep the quality high while sticking to our morals, we don’t want to get lost and forget why we started this. Keeping things limited to 30 makes it that extra bit special - you know you’re one of 30 people who have that item.”

Moving into 2022, Real Gang are shining a light on sustainability, sourcing more eco-friendly materials and working in partnership with companies and factories who create sustainable products. The Gang are also working on a slew of new products, including jackets, anoraks, trousers and accessories, with more parties planned in London, Manchester and Birmingham. And of course, like most of us, they’re hoping to make a return to the White Isle.

Keep up to date with Real Gang’s drops via their mailing list at www.realgang.co.uk

Amy Fielding is DJ Mag's digital staff writer and fashion editor. Follow her on Twitter @amebbbb

Want more? Check out our recent Brand Focus with London-based brand DONOTSUBVERGE about working towards sustainability, and fashion that's reflective of society