In January 2017 the Offend My Eyes headquarters are buzzing with activity as the company prepares for it’s biggest year yet. While they re-stock their clothing and load up on pot noodles for the festival season, we go back to how they first started four years ago and what inspired them to start making clothing in the first place…
Offend My Eyes is just two people; Jack and Nick. A pair of social misfits who were sick of being treated differently because of what they looked like.
Nick (right) Jack (middle) and their model and friend Charlotte (left)
It’s funny now to think that we work in fashion, when we really have no clue about mainstream fashion or what is hot right now at all! We’re more like anti-fashion. Who says you have to wear something because it’s trendy or because everyone else is wearing it? We always wore clothing because we liked how it looked, ripping up clothing and creating unique pieces was a creative outlet for us and we didn’t care if other people didn’t like it, they weren't the ones wearing it!
If you look a little different to everyone else you’ll find their story of being social outcasts because of their looks painfully familiar. A lot of people find individuals who don’t follow the crowd a scary and threatening thought. Why is this? We’re not sure. They find individuals offensive, perhaps because they don’t have the guts to do it themselves, but mostly they don’t see heavily modified people with bright blue hair everyday and so they don’t know how to react. They just throw insults or give strange looks, the couple find it annoying but they're used to it now.
After a while, we just thought, you know what? Why don’t we give them something to stare at. They judge us anyway so why not just be yourself and wear clothing thats as crazy as you are! We never really thought anyone except us would wear it, we just designed what we liked and hoped there was someone else out there too who wanted to buck the system and get crazy with us. If they’re gonna stare, why not have a giant vagina on your t-shirt for them to stare at? Or give them a message to read such as; ‘What are you lookin’ at Suckerz?
Jack and Nick spent months planning their first designs. They sketched ideas night after night until they finally decided on something and sent it to the printers only to be told that it wasn't possible because it was just too colourful.
Most printers are limited in the number of colours you can use and how complex the design can be, the garments are already prepared and they print over the top of them with screens or presses so there's little room to customise that.
It was really disheartening because we realised that this was the reason clothing is so boring; one colour, black and grey prints are so cheap, easy and in-demand that everyone and their dog can make them and sell them fast. We wanted to make creations that you could wear and people would stop in the street to look at, but printers wouldn’t or couldn’t print our crazy designs onto t-shirts properly. Trying to cram so much art onto something that was designed for a one colour logo caused major problems; missing streaks under the arms of the t-shirt or the printing just wasn’t good enough. It was really tough in the beginning.
Not giving up that easily, they went back to the drawing board and found a type of new printing called 'sublimation'. Sublimation was a new process which took a solid ink, made it into a gas and applied it to a product which then solidified. It had just come out and was mostly used on mugs, plastic and other items. They found just one company who would do it on a T-shirt and as soon as it arrived they knew that was the future of Offend My Eyes.
The Octopussy, by Offend My Eyes
The first sublimated design, the aptly named ‘Octopussy’ was an instant hit. The T-shirt sold out and had numerous requests to re-print. The main problem was sublimation was expensive and after all the costs of printing, packing and running a website there was little profit to be made at all. However Jack and Nick were doing this for their love of wearable art and continued to strive for perfection. After they had perfected the sublimation, they started experimenting with different companies and different inks to get the colours even brighter. Then they scrapped the pre-made garments altogether and found a company to work with who would custom make everything from from scratch. They printed onto reels of material that would then be sewn into garments specifically designed to fit all genders and bodies.
We wanted high quality clothing that people loved so much it could be worn for years. A lot of our customers are non binary or don’t conform to ‘normal’ body standards and we wanted those people to feel as welcome as everyone else. Its why we don’t put any genders on our clothing - even our dresses are designed to be worn by men, women and everyone else. We use transgender models alongside our cisgendered models and when we write our product descriptions we make sure we aren't alienating anyone. We know how that feels and it's not nice!
Models Mynxie Monroe (bottom) and Ruby Wednesday (top) wearing Offend My Eyes
The next step was pushing the boundaries even further.
First and foremost the design has got to look good, of course, bright and beautiful with bold colours and intricate, well drawn art. But we have a lot to say too and we want our designs to challenge people's perceptions and make them think. The very foundation of our business has always been 'be true to yourself'. We want to make clothing that people say, yeah, this is me, and so what? Who cares if other people stare and get offended - be authentic to yourself and thats all that matters.
The latest clothing displays meaningful messages such as ‘be who you are on the inside’ or feature transgender and non-binary characters. Since embracing their differences and standing up for individualism, the company has slowly grown an underground following. They might not have the biggest fanbase, but each one of their fans is worth a thousand of the ‘disposable’ fashion shoppers that flit from brand to brand in order to stay on top of the latest trend.
The UK's pride angel Sophie (middle) with Jack (left) and Nick (right)
Customers pose outside the Offend My Eyes pop-up shop
We really, really love our customers. We know they trust us when they choose to spend with us, so we always try our hardest to remember that and make it a special experience. We include freebies in parcels, we run competitions for our social media followers and we attend LGBTQ pride events and music festivals with our pop up shop so we can connect and talk directly with them and find out what they really want and what they think about our designs. We answer all our messages and emails personally and we even remember the names and faces of our repeat customers!
For Offend My Eyes, it was never about making money and becoming rich. It's about standing up for all the outcasts and weirdos who are shunned by the mainstream. It's about making clothing that does more than just cover you up or keep you warm; it makes a statement about who you are, shows off your inner self and sticks two fingers up to society.
Offend my eyes is already booked to take their colourful pop-up shop to major music festivals and events around the UK in 2017. If you spot them, make sure you go and say hello, they'd love to chat! The couple still run the company themselves and they love meeting other creative people and minds who think alike.