Fashion | Brand Focus: Postal
DJ Mag speaks with Scottish brand Postal about their bootleg beginnings, emotive imagery and a dedication to providing quality garments
While working at Scottish clothing store Manifesto as an assistant manager, Neil Roy — better known as Nel — found himself disappointed. Interested in the methods and processes of the designers behind streetwear and premium garments, and studying stock coming through the shop, he began to feel the price-tags of more expensive brands didn’t align with the quality landing on shelves. Inspired to improve on what he'd seen, Nel began designing and selling t-shirts. “I used to joke with some of my workmates, saying I could do better than that,” he says. “I think that’swhen I started actually putting those thoughtsinto motion.“
In the beginning, I started out buying cheap blanks and screen-printing badly knocked-up graphics,” he continues. “And I was surprised to find out that friends and customers at the shop were asking to buy them.”
At that time, the brand had no name — let alone a website — and sales from those sporadic drops were made primarily by word of mouth. Nel began to reflect back to those early days in Manifesto, and reconsidered the quality of his products. “I started to do a lot of research, playing about with samples, and eventually found a local manufacturer who catered to everything I was looking for,” he explains. “The minimum order per style, at that time, was around 50 tees — which was more than I wanted — but I took a punt on them.
“I named the brand Postal — which was my old tag from my short-lived graffiti days — and uploaded a picture to my personal Instagram page. They sold out within a couple of hours. I repeated the process over and over for about six months, refining my business model as I went."
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Five years on, and Postal has grown into an established brand, dropping capsule collections periodically, and being stocked in high-end retailers like 18montrose and Seven Store. The Postal products themselves are emblazoned with graphics and slogans that make subtle culture references: artwork nodding to moments shared on dancefloors, or text citing emotional sentiments from personal relationships. As a designer, Nel focuses on thought-provoking imagery within Postal's embroidery and printing.
In more recent years, Nel and Postal teamed up with Glasgwegian DJ/producer Jasper James on two capsule collections. “I’ve collaborated with some really talented people, but the most popular by far was the two drops I did with Jasper James,” he affirms. “What started as a short conversation at Reading Rooms in Dundee, about the possibility of creating some merch, turned into two full collections which sold out everywhere in premium retailers up and down the UK. The success of the drops was a true testament to the impact Jasper has as an artist.”
Now gearing up for the drop of Postal’s SS21 collections, Nel is looking for new ways to develop and build on the brand’s creative methods and processes, and is designing a new line of cut-and-sew items in the form of tracksuits, jackets, shirts and jeans. “We’re also aiming for Postal to be a fully-sustainable and organic brand by the end of 2023,” he says, “from the fabrics right down to the packaging. It’s not going to be easy, but I feel as a brand owner it’s my obligation to take responsibility of Postal’s impact on the planet. We will actually be trialling our first fully organic and sustainable collection later this year, so that’ll definitely be one to keep an eye on.”