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Fashion | Brand Focus: Wasted Heroes

In our most recent Brand Focus, DJ Mag's fashion editor, Amy Fielding, speaks with Liverpool-based graphic designer Russell Reid, who turned his life-long love of designing rave artwork and club culture into a clothing brand

In 2010, graphic designer Russell Reid had made a name for himself designing flyers for legendary Liverpool parties, like Circus and Chibuku. A key player in the promotion process of the city's raves, Reid had a vision for outfitting those in the club in garments designed for the dancefloor and beyond, and launched his very own clothing label, Wasted Heroes, the same year. “Design and music is the backbone of my life,” Reid says, “so getting my designs onto t-shirts was a logical progression. The name Wasted Heroes was a bit of a lucky dip, and the two words have taken on different meanings to us over the years, but ultimately, WH represents undiscovered artists of all forms who do what they do for the love it.”

Initially, WH started small. Reid purchased a screen-printing carousel, and set it up in his spare bedroom at his home in Liverpool. “All my spare time was dedicated to it and learning the craft,” he remembers. By 2017, Reid had left his full-time job, and put his sole focus on developing the brand.

To this day, all of WH’s designs are screen or digitally printed in-house, as they were in the brand's beginnings. Now though, its no longer from Reid’s spare bedroom. “We keep the designs in-house, to have more creative freedom and experiment, but we’ve moved on,” Reid says. “We have a really nice creative space in the fabric district end of town with a small team of four. I no longer screen-print myself, focusing my time on the creative end of things and releasing new designs.

“Before the purchase of my full colour DTG printer, all the garments were screen-printed. Screen-printing has its limitations with colours, so my usual practice was to pick a theme like Acid House or Techno and come up with a series of one and two colour prints, which can be quite a challenge.” 

 

The latest collection from WH has seen Reid go back to his rave flyer roots in a major way, with the recently-launched 001 capsule of the Remixed and Known Artist series. Sifting through old magazines and rave-adjacent photographs and clippings, Reid collates the designs manually, before scanning them to the computer — back-to-the-old-school style. “Now I've gone full colour the ideas are endless,” he explains. “We’re printing the new range on a Heavyweight t-shirt which I just love. The weight of the tee, the fit and design would be my ambassador piece for Wasted Heroes, and my customers are loving them.”

WH are also focused on eco-friendly options from the manufacturing process, right down to packaging. All of the brand’s garments are organic and climate neutral, and are sourced from verified ethical manufacturers. The designs are then printed using eco-friendly, water-based inks, packaged without swing tags, and posted using paper mailing bags.

Elsewhere, the brand has developed a strong overseas community, and regularly exports clothing to customers in Europe and the US. It’s also been spotted on some of the biggest names in dance music, including Carl Cox, Seth Troxler and The Martinez Brothers, and while the brand wants to keep going global, Reid understands the importance of remaining grounded and in-touch with the scene it came from. “I'm in this for the love of design and being part of the music scene,” he affirms. 

“I'm going to keep on doing what I'm doing and smash out more designs this year than I've ever done. I've been too cautious over the years about releasing designs and just need to take more risks. We’ll also maybe look at more of a high-street presence this year and get into some stores.”

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

Want more? Check out our recent Brand Focus with Real Gang, the clothing company and record label creating a forward-thinking, underground community