Lil Baby, references from the 1600s, being stranded at Kings Cross Station overnight, designer SlikSyd, owner and creator of the brand BySlik ran us through what it’s taken to get to where he is today. Off the back of the success of Byslik, Syd has started a new brand, called Years Of Tears. The brand’s debut collection drops this weekend, featuring 10 original designs by Syd. Featuring a cameo appearance from right hand man Bami, we sat down with Syd to go over the journey so far, and where he plans to take it.
Basement: When did you start BySilk?
Syd: In 2019, we linked Lil Baby when he came to London. He showed mad love for the pants and posted them on his Instagram story. At that point we had around 2k Instagram followers, but we had bare people floating to our page after he posted it.
Basement: How did that link up happen with Lil Baby?
Syd: I always used to think, I don’t understand how people manage to get guys like him to wear their clothes, but it was literally one message like “Yo you in London? Let’s link up”. Plus, Lil Baby’s a real guy, and I’ve seen him help other brands before. He was shooting a music video with Young Adz, so we pulled up and gave him the pants. On the way back home we saw that he’d posted them on his story, then I had bare people flooding to the page. Then the very next week, we see Trippie Red in them, and we thought, “What the fuck? We haven’t even sold them yet and somehow he has a pair?”
Basement: When did you first drop the jeans?
Syd: We dropped them on the 7th September, 2019. That was the craziest release of my life. You had to sign up before, and when we sent out the password that day, around 6:30PM, by 6:45PM – everything was sold out. We put more on the website at 7PM, and by 7:15PM, everything was sold out again.
Basement: What was it like seeing everything sell out that fast?
Syd: Craziest day of my life, that day was life changing. It made me appreciate everything that I’d done up until that moment. I’d never seen that amount of money in my entire life! I was at home, with my Mum, and we were watching everything sell. She didn’t understand how that could all happen. I told her “this is what I’ve been working on all this time!” and she was like “oh my God” and didn’t believe it at first.
Basement: You reference a lot of Japanese culture in your own style and designs. Where does that interest come from?
Syd: I first started getting into clothes when introduced by this guy in high school. He was wearing Oswego’s. I told him that I thought they were so ugly, but went home and tried to get them because I thought they were so peng – I just didn’t want him to know that. He then came in again wearing a bape shark hoodie, I’d seen them before, but I didn’t know what they were. I asked him about it, and he told me, “Yeah, it’s Bape.” That same day I went home and just researched so much about Bape. The next day, I went in knowing everything Bape related. At first, it was just the shark hoodies, but as I looked further and further into it, I found out about the original Bape, Pharrell-time bape, Nigo-time bape, and just thought it was so fire. Since then, my interest just grew.
Basement: What was it about Bape that grabbed your attention?
Syd: It’s just so bold, all the big designs. It’s just so sick to me. It stands out so much, and that’s how I felt growing up. Maybe because I was mad shorter than everyone else, so I would stand out anyway. So with Bape it just felt natural for me to wear it. I discovered BBC (Billionaires Boys Club) through Bape.
Basement: Talk to me about your interest in Billionaire Boys Club?
Syd: BBC is one of those brands you definitely know about because of the newer pieces. I didn’t even know about the older BBC pieces until I saw Pharrell wearing them. I liked it too because it had elements of Bape. It felt like Bape was their little off brand. They also had a skate team called Ice Cream, which is what I’m wearing (points out his Ice Cream sneakers).
Basement: I feel like you’re really interested in going down rabbit holes of brands/designers and discovering links between them. Why is that important to you?
Syd: I’ve always wanted to get a deeper knowledge about everything, no matter what it is. When I’m looking into clothes, I’ll always see if brands have other off brands. When I was skating that’s how I found out about Supreme, and then Fucking Awesome, by the fact they’re linked to skating. I really like that, as it allows you to have two different clienteles, I want to have that with BySlik and Years Of Tears.
BZZZZZZZZ (Studio Buzzer goes off)
Syd: That’s probably Bami, he’ll be a good one to have in the interview. He’s known me since before all this stuff. You tryna jump in the interview?
Bami: I mean why not
Basement: Apparently you know Syd pretty well?
Bami: Yeah, I’m his dad.
Syd: Don’t do that.
Basement: So talk to me about Osbatt Years of Tears*, and the upcoming collection?
Syd: So this first collection is based on this TV series called, Forever Night. It’s like Vampire Diaries, but real Vampire Diaries. My interest in vampires just started recently. I was first interested in bats, and then I obviously went down that rabbit hole. I went from bats to vampires to wolves to full moons. I love BBC dog jeans, and always wanted to make my own design in a similar style. At first I was going to use a wolf, but it was too similar so I switched it up, and felt like the bat was more me.
Basement: What’s the experience been like from the beginning of the collection, to today, where we’re shooting the clothes?
Syd: It’s been a fucking headache fam, theres been times where I’ve called this guy (Bami) pissed, saying “I dont even want to do this anymore.”
Bami: This guy called me up once yeah, and was like “Bro I’m fucking done, I fucking tired of it!” But then ten minutes later he’s like “Nah slyly I’m bare calm”.
Syd: That’s why I don’t really speak when I’m emotional, because I’ll say something that I don’t actually mean. So now I just keep my mouth shut when I’m pissed. I’m never pissed off at anyone more than myself. But with Years of Tears, getting from the design phase to actually having the clothes in front of you, was way harder than with BySlik, because of all the different pieces.
Basement: How is Years Of Tears different to BySlik?
Syd: So Byslik will have nicer individual pieces that anyone could wear, but with Years Of Tears, I want it to be more like you’re buying it because you know what it is and you know how to wear it. You’re the type of person who knows how to make it look sick. Years Of Tears won’t appeal to everyone, but the people it does appeal to, they’ll go hard, and support it.
Basement: This one is from Deba (close friend of Syd)… You often talk about your Mum, and everything she overcame whilst raising you and your brother. How does she inspire you and push you?
Syd: My mum left her own country (Zimbabwe) to give me a better life. For that I’ll always be grateful, because the culture is to leave me there, but she didn’t want that for me, so we moved to the UK. So for that, I’m gonna go hard every day for my mum and my brother.
That is literally what Years Of Tears is about. All the years of tears that we put into everything to get to where we are now. Whether that was making clothes, trying to put food on the table, bumping trains from my house (which is 3 hours away from London), having £5 in my pocket, breaking up a McDonalds meal for a whole day or sleeping in Kings Cross station overnight. Everything that my Mum put in place for me to be able to do to pursue my dreams, I want to pay her back. I want to get my mum a crib, she’s always wanted her own house, and for me to be successful, so the only way to pay her back is to become that person.
Basement: Where did that motivation to do something you enjoyed come from?
Again, my Mum always told me, “Do what you want to do.” And what I want to do is what I’m doing right now. I always had in my mind that I needed education, that was never really drilled into me, I just knew it was important. So even now, alongside everything else, I’m at university. I feel like a lot of the younger generation think you need to be a college drop out to pursue your dreams. You really don’t have to bro, you can balance the two. Especially if you’re at uni doing what you want to do. What I study in uni (Fashion PR) is what I do alongside it. So it just goes hand in hand. If you’re at university studying science, but you’re doing fashion on the side, and that’s what you really want to do, just go do fashion. Your life will be so much more peaceful. It doesn’t feel like work, it’s fun, but it is actually work.
Basement: So the Years Of Tears, is intergenerational, from your Mum to you?
Syd: Yeah man, every collection from now on is going to go hard. It’s crazy that 5 years ago Bami and I were talking like, “I really want to have a collection, and a house”. I promise you, everything we’ve said from the past five years we’ve achieved. The day we moved into the crib, we were like, “We need that penthouse upstairs.”
Basement: What’s your hope for this collection?
Syd: I hope people take it in, and people remember this took me off the ground. Years of Tears is what I want to be known for. I don’t want to be known as the denim guy. Although I love denim so much, I want people to know I can do everything.
Basement: What’s happening in the next 5 years?
Syd: Penthouse and a Mercedes, and a show. That’s when the true designer in me will come out, working with shapes and fits. I want to get it all in-house, the way Bape did. They had it made by Bape for Bape. I want it made by Tears, for Tears.
Bami: We need the parking spot first though man.
Years Of Tears collection releases Sunday 1st November, 2020. Keep your eyes out for the look book this week.