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Basement Brand Spotlight: Bound

Basement grown label bound returns for the release of their tenth collection.

Born and raised in The Basement, Jake Messer has been working on his menswear clothing brand bound for the past three years. Following the release of his tenth collection ‘A Safe Haven’. The latest collection draws direction inspiration from Valletta, the capital city of Malta, often referred to as ‘Old Italy’ where the aesthetics and styles of the past that have long been inspirations for Jake are at the forefront of his reference points for this collection. The backdrop for the lookbook is Valletta itself, where the bound team spent three days driving from one side of Malta to the other in order to capture the exact story they wish to tell through the 50’s and 60’s inspired looks. We sat down with Jake to talk about the latest collection, bound’s origins and what’s next for the label.

Basement Brand Spotlight - Bound 'A Safe Haven'
How long have you been a member of the Basement community?

Yoo, now let me check this… I became a member 1st September 2016! I’d probably only just sobered up after uni since the group started a few years before!

What kickstarted your interest in fashion?

Generally, I always had an interest in fashion from a super young age. I remember absolutely loving Lacoste, that was my go to brand. I vividly remember going to USA and seeing all this Tommy, Lacoste and Ralph so much cheaper than the UK, spent all my holiday money on these and retro basketball shirts that we’re way too big as I was only like 5ft then. That stayed really throughout my teens and uni, I was always pretty brand orientated but never really fell into the ‘hype’ brands as much, I always loved Stussy despite being shite at skating. My taste is so varied from sportswear, street and then smarter wear.

Tell us a bit about how you started your brand?

After uni I got a standard grad job for Virgin Media. I knew I didn’t want it, but it was drilled to me that it was a great opportunity and I listen to other people instead of myself in taking it. That need for security can be the biggest limitations in the world, seriously. That being said, I wouldn’t have fell on the tracks of what I’m doing now if it wasn’t for that. After 6 months I gave it a good go and left VM. I already had in mind that I wanted to start a fashion company, but not just an individual brand. I had skills in marketing, sales etc, but not in design, so how could I make a brand? I had the idea to give a platform to various young designers, who wanted to design and not necessarily delve too much into the business side of things, that makes a killer combo. Then UN:IK Clothing was born…

After running UN:IK as an outlet that built and showcased brands by other designers, after 5 years I felt confident enough I wanted to create my own brand, but from scratch. No blanks, no half measures. F**king the best fabrics I can find, styles created from scratch that I wanted to wear. I just CAD’d and designed garments I wanted to wear myself. I travelled the world to visit factories. I wanted to do everything properly across the whole brand, there, we have bound.

What are the ideas and references behind the latest collection?

Collection ten, this for me is the perfect spring / summer collection. Actually my favourite I have done so far, not even saying that. I watched a shit ton of Sopranos all last year, whilst designing this, so it has serious retro Italian kicks to it. I love anything retro aesthetically, it’s my thing, so you can see that all through the brand but especially this collection. The Goodfellas and more, have a lot of reference behind this, most of my inspo comes from older TV shows and movie style!

I then want to achieve that look in the campaign, so I went to Matla which has a really old Italy look to it, and Valetta is the twin sister of Palermo, in which one of the knit polos is named after (all polos are named after places in Sicily). Since covid has finished, I have loved being able to put a story behind the collections I’m releasing, it’s something I always dreamed of doing and I’m blessed to be at that stage I am doing it now.

Basement Brand Spotlight - Bound 'A Safe Haven'
How has the Basement helped you with starting your brand?

The brand ultimately was born in the Basement, I’m not the most regular poster, but am active always. So having been in the group for 3 years already, I had the confidence to showcase pretty much every collection from the start in the group. I remember the first ever drop went wild, and literally 100s of Basement heads copped my stripe tees. Cut and sew was slightly rarer then, so I guess it was massively appreciated!

To be able to reach so many like minded people, with a passion for the industry of fashion but adding a community sprit to that, is priceless. Basement buy basement, that’s facts. In an era now of constant paid ads to allow your business to survive, whether that be on Insta or TikTok, an organic group like this is the rarest of breeds, an endangered specious. It must be preserved and fair play for those involved that do that, brand owners and punters are blessed to be able to have it as a resource.

How is it being based in Manchester - do you like the fashion and creative scene up there?

Fucking love it. Without a shadow of a doubt my favourite city. The vibe, size, little creative pockets, its perfect. Don’t get me wrong, the brand may have grown quicker or whatever in London, and maybe if the brand was from there it would have more ‘respect’, but in honesty I don’t care about that. I don’t get involved in any of that ‘brand beef’ or competition, I just do what I do and I love doing it, so that’s the most important thing and that’s what I think MCR truly speaks for. People are just getting by doing there things quietly but proper. It stems to a pride thing, a pride in the work they do, they don’t need the world to know, as long as their locals are on boards, thats all you need.

You do a lot of the elements of running your brand yourself — designing, producing, shooting and so on. Is it important for young creatives today to be able to wear many hats, and embrace that DIY spirit?

Yeah right now, bound is a one man thing primarily, I have guys that are now helping on orders etc but creatively at the moment its just me. I love that, I needed that to be able to create the brand exactly how I wanted it to be, I needed to do those years on my own to shape it, let people understand it, let myself understand it! I love designing garments more than anything, from picking a fabric, doing a CAD and then seeing that first sample, its the best feeling in the world for me. I imagine like an artists writing a song and listening to it when its finished. I always struggled creatively, literally until I started bound. I sucked at it, I can’t draw for shit, or play music, but I do know now, how to put a garment together.

The shooting side, I still collaborate with some top creatives, models and photographers who I love working with and they create magic. I have been shooting 35mm myself on a more diary / personal basis for a few years, but have now starter shooting my own bits int he campaigns etc. It’s nice to be able to contribute to the final imagery on items I saw from a 5cm roll of fabric.

Basement Brand Spotlight - Bound 'A Safe Haven'
Where do you see streetwear heading over the next 5 years?

Wow, hard question because in the last 3 years its changed so much. It’s weird because I love releasing collections with a story, a meaning and a fully campaign. Most brands these days just make a good, shoot it on a fit model in there studio and then release it. Its a complete polar process. I think that’s more commercially viable and seems to be the content people want, simple and effective. Insta is flooded by those brands now, one starts, 100 pop up for the next few months afterwards. That’s kinda sad to see for me, there is a serious serious lack of originality in the industry and I hope influencer brands don’t just dictate it because its an easy revenue stream. There has to be passion. The best brands are formed with the most passion. If anyone starts with fire in their belly and genuine passion behind a brand then they are onto a winner, persevere with that and that’s how it should be done. I really hope to see more passion behind streetwear brands starting, tell a story, sell a story and live by it.

Who are some of your biggest inspirations?

Aime Leon Dore hands down, levels above the rest. Just what I said above, these guys tell a story, they have so much originality. They are the leaders at the moment for me. It helps they are exactly my style, personally too. I then can’t deny my underlying love for Stussy, Stussy is like my Oasis, Aime Leon Dore like my Arctic Monkeys.

What's next for you?

I have a collaboration coming that has literally blown my mind, I can’t actually believe its happening. I hate to be that guy, but I can’t say what, but for me, it’s the best thing I could have ever done. If bound made £10mill in a year, this would still beat it for me. Hopefully its this year, if not early next!

Other than that, I’ll keep trying to do the best I can and make the best garments I can. I try to listen to the community that bound has. I want to make people happy and confident in what they wear and hopefully I’m doing that and getting to the right place. I’d love for the brand to be in more physical stores, so that’s a target. Then I want to have my own physical flagship, in Manny, of course.

Basement Brand Spotlight - Bound 'A Safe Haven'

bound’s tenth collection ‘A Safe Haven’ is now available via their webstore.

Written By
Francesco Loy Bell

Photography By