The former DJ, fashion designer, mentor, equality champion and all-round nice guy Anton Douglas tells us how a brief brush with banking left him craving creativity and control
Before Anton launched fashion label Sneaker Club he was heavily involved in the DJ scene in the UK and across Europe for seven successful years. Rather than working solo as many DJs do, Anton was part of a collective… well two actually. First came Logistics which was a large bunch and then Sneaker Club consisting of three DJs and a live band which was pretty unusual. The idea for the label was born out of his experience with the group hence the name. Anton explains: “We met this guy who told us to make the most of what we had. He thought we could do really well from merchandising. So we started buying in blank apparels and customising them and it worked pretty well.”
SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM
Reluctantly, the collective disbanded when some members felt demotivated by low record sales and Anton found himself looking for a ‘normal’ job. He ended up working in finance where the only flash of creativity was deciding which tie to wear with which suit. He recalls: “It was a shock to the system. I stuck it out for a year then I had to call it quits.” When Anton decided to give fashion a try, Sneaker Club was the obvious name and he set about designing. His clothes are genderless which is important. Anton says: “I like to challenge society’s ideals. Why should boys wear blue and girls pink? The minute a child is born they’re put in a box. It’s not equal.” He adds: “Girls have been buying from men’s departments for years and I used to work with this serious rock dude who wanted extra skinny jeans so he’d buy girl’s. That’s quite common now.” The lines are blurred. The idea behind the label whose designs ooze urban simplicity is anything you might wear with sneakers, so there are plenty of cool tees as well as jackets and accessories plus a bespoke service. Anton’s keen to ensure that the label is inclusive from a cost point of view as well as gender, so items range from £5 to £300. He has an advantage over some designers in that he’s versatile, so he’s in control. “I can design, pack and cut, sew and finish, so that’s given me a bit of a leg up.” The clothing is stocked in concept store Bene Culture in the Custard Factory as well as online, plus Anton has his movable concept store in the form of his very cool matt black van which makes going to trade shows easy and effective.
A studio in the Custard Factory seemed the natural fit, so a year ago that’s where Anton set up. Surrounded by other creatives and independents it’s the ideal hub. The last two years have been a juggling act between studying fashion and developing the label with 2am finishes and 8am starts a frequent happening. Post-graduation Anton is enjoying focusing on the label and catching up on development. Having said that, he’s finding time to give back a bit too. After being invited to speak at BCU earlier in the year, he receives and answers e-mails from students regularly asking for advice or wanting to come and see him in the studio. “It’s fascinating to me that people are remotely interested in what I do. I didn’t intend to make clothes. I just loved the idea of doing something for myself and championing my own ideas.”