Studio Visit — Heresy

HERESY is an independent clothing label hailing from Peckham, South London. We are in love with their no-nonsense, pure and honest aesthetic. Their website is equally as beautiful and is made /designed by co-founder Jasper Dunk’s brother Rupert Dunk. From chilling and sombre graphics revolving around American serial killers, to one-off hand-built ceramic jugs, Heresy shows a level of intricacy and care that only a small label can. We stopped by their Peckham based studio and talked to Dominic Owen and Jasper Dunk about their brand.

Catalogue: You’re both illustrators by trade, is that how you met?

H: Nooo we met way back at school. Back when your jeans were allowed to touch your shoes. We used to listen to Task Force and London Posse driving around in Dom’s Cinquecento. I think we’ve know each other for like 16 years now.

C: How long have you been pursuing Heresy?

H: This is always a bit of a difficult one to answer, when we first started HERESY it was just for fun, I reckon we decided that it was going to be ‘a thing’ about three years ago. We’ve been making things under that name for a while though.

C: It seems to us you’re concentrating on quality of your products, I’m sure your inundated with offers from big-brand names and such – is there a reason as to why you haven’t capitalised on your appealing and ever-popular aesthetic?

H: Ha! That’s very kind of you to say, you’re a kind man. I think that to be honest what we make can be a bit alienating to some people. It seems like people are either into it or they’re not, which is OK. I think if we just make stuff that we think is cool or weird or funny then that’s fine, there’s no point trying to make stuff that everyone is into. If you try and purposely cater to a wide audience then there’s a load of compromise that goes along with that. We’ve been approached by some of the ‘bigger guys’, but it turned out that we’d rather hold on to what we were building on, it’s a delicate game positioning yourself.

C: How often are you in the studio and whats the typical day-to-day?

H: We’re in here most days. It’s winter and it’s so cold out, but our studio is the probably the warmest place in Peckham, it’s almost hard to concentrate, Dom just went for a walk because he was falling asleep. Our days are usually pretty varied, on a good day you’re designing and making stuff, on a bad day you’re filing court orders and trying to untangle production mess. We have NTS on pretty much constantly. We share the studio with a friend from University who makes video art, yesterday ended in us both ‘performing’ a script he’d written which was intellectual and reflexive and had no regard for the fourth wall at all. So yeah it gets pretty crazy round here.

C: As art and illustration is the forefront of your practice and (for us) what makes Heresy so appealing – why choose apparel as a route to express that output?

H: We started thinking about clothing to try and step away from the illustration world, at the time we were finding it all a bit insular. Making a brand was a way to take back control of the application and demand for our work. Rather than trying to get people or companies to commission us we just made our own products. A brand is a really interesting platform for making work, we mainly make clothes but we also make objects, show work in galleries, run music projects, collaborate on things, it’s cool. I wouldn’t recommend getting into fashion because a lot of it is horrible, but I would definitely recommend having a brand.

C: How did you become established / did it take you long to find connections to the industry in terms of popular culture, blogs etc?

H: Oooh I dunno about that, I don’t know if I feel like HERESY is established yet. We’re finding our feet still, but it’s nice when you bump into people that know what we’re up to. I think especially with clothing brands people are less likely to take a punt on you until they know that you’re stable and aren’t going to fold after one season. Being a buyer is a bit of a gambling game and I suppose it’s kind of nuts to put your chips on guys that are brand new. We’ve been around for a while, and we’re going to be around for a while longer, so all of that is getting easier now. We were really lucky to get support from some cool guys like BEAMS early on which helps I think.

C: You’ve done a couple of zines – it’s also easy to see the correlation between your work and art publishing. Is publishing something you’d ever develop into? 

H: Publishing is something we love, we’ve made and collected zines for years. Our seasonal collections are usually quite research heavy, and sometimes clothing isn’t the most effective tool to communicate all the great stuff we find, so a publication that accompanies the collection would be the best solution! The only thing is the fashion calendar is a harsh mistress and we always seem to run out of time. This year maybe we’ll pull it off, definitely got some smaller zine projects in the barrel though. Print is the best, the internet is too big and confusing, I stapled a zine together this morning and that feeling is just so great, never loses its charm!

C: Your studio is beautiful, bright and well considered, does that space / environment help you when making work?

H: We’ve worked out of bedrooms and kitchen tables in the past, having a nice place to work makes SO much difference. The DIY thing is great, you’ve got to grind away to make something, but the live/work situation was becoming a drag, and we’re both turning into old guys now! We were really lucky to find such a great space, its getting harder and harder in this part of London. Assembly Point where we’re based is full of nice people too, there’s a lot of fine artists here and a huge gallery space.

C: Whats next? Any collabs / new stuff / new stockists?

H: This year is going to be fun we think. We’ve got a couple of collections coming out, and working on some new textile and ceramic objects. Hopefully we’ll have time to put out a more ambitious publication too. We’re also going to be working on a pretty nuts animation project with a friend of ours which we’re super excited about.

C: Cool, let us do a shirt. Thanks!

H: Nice to chat! Yeah lets do it.

To coincide with our Heresy studio visit we released a collaboration tote bag on the Catalogue Editions section. Printed on extra heavy 8oz canvas, grab one now, edition of 50. Also shop Heresy’s latest collection in the link below.

Words by Catalogue, images by Heresy.