By Brigitte Patton
Calling all ghosts and goblins this fine Halloween season. I’ve got a delicious treat for your fashion cravings. Based straight from San Diego comes Kill Brand, an apparel lifestyle clothing brand with edginess and bite! Dracula himself would be so proud..
What started out as a joke with owner and DIC (Dude in Charge) Jonny Smith, wearing a fluorescent pink T-shirt all the time while on tour with his band back in 2002, would be the future of Kill Brand! Everyone made fun of his pink tee so one day he decided to spray paint “K I L L” across the front to make it more evil (insert Dracula laugh here), and all of a sudden everyone wanted one! Jonny saw an opportunity and started making tees for everyone on tour! Eventually that lead to a screen printing machine in his studio apartment and his poor dog being covered in fluorescent pink paint from time to time. I personally like to think of it as being fashion forward for the pup!
When I asked him about his favorite piece from his line, he replied “jean jackets”. Love it. Jean jackets have made such a comeback; we seriously might as well call ourselves 80’s redeux children but with a better fit than 30 years ago. They’re the pieces he gets most excited about each season when they design them! He did note that their best seller is their “fuck everything” piece which is the money maker and my personal favorite top. I was able to snag one for myself and now I WILL be the envy of everyone once I take over the WORLD! (Dracula laugh, again)
What’s great about Jonny is that he doesn’t try to follow the trends.. He just thinks of something funny or weird, makes note of it on his cellular device and turns it into a design that isn’t comparable to the 34,347 other best sellers out there. It helps keep an organic take on what he thinks is cool and what makes him enjoy his job! He admitted that the designs he loves most are the worst sellers and he won’t stop making them because he really likes them! Way to stand behind the brand! Even if he loses money, if it’s something he likes, he’ll run it. That to me is the epitome of a true designer and artist. People who can be creative and see beauty in things that others do not. At some point, it catches on. True passion. Respect!
Kill Brand recently published a Halloween themed lookbook. Each season they try to change up their shoots and thought it would be cool to have a murder mystery type theme. Jonny is secretly (not so secret now thanks to the internet) terrified of horror movies so they had to do the shoot during the day! I liked the honesty on that one. What totally stole my heart was that if he could pick a celebrity to dress in his digs it would be THE Ryan Gosling, confessing that the boy can make a t-shirt look good. Ummmm, yes, yes he can. Ryan, if you’re reading this, he’ll send you a box of clothes! I’d take him up on the offer.. just sayin’.
He’s had his bumps along the way and didn’t learn about Business in school. He took the life on the road approach to include promoting the band, getting bad record deals, and learning from mistakes and mistakes of others. He was able to cultivate that and pass it on to the brand. One great piece of advice is that he wishes he had some college business training which would have maybe prevented some mistakes. College professors around the world rejoice at the sound of that.
Jonny has got to be one of the nicest people around in an industry that is cutthroat and downright scary (pun intended – it’s Halloween!). Kill Brand has been around for the last 12 years, probably should have gone out of business at least 3 times, and has powered through the treacherous life of a designer but never gave up because it was the only thing he really loves to do! Without help from people that back the brand and want something different instead of cheap mass-produced products, they wouldn’t be around today. For his gratitude he has graciously offered Bellus Magazine readers 30% off by using the code KILL via KillBrand.com. You can also view Kill Brand’s pieces on karmaloop.com, Zumiez.com, and shopkitson.com. Peep their instagram/twitter @killbrand
Now get yourself some awesome gear, support local, and Fuck Everything!
Photographer: Grayson Lauffenburger
Creative Art Director: Matt Cruz
Models: Brigitte Patton, Christina Meissner, Garrett English, Matt Cruz, Taylor Oshen