Sik Silk is arguably the biggest name in the UK fast fashion urban streetwear scene. While Palace and Supreme pre-date the creation of Scarborough label, their true concept came from the skateboard world so can be ignored for the sake of this article. The closest comparison in the UK was Judas Sinned who started a niche range of t-shirts in 2010, and also discovered Stephen James. That is the closest comparison but they originated out of a Bristol shop so had fashion experience and footfall to help their profile. Sik Silk were the first of the true “bedroom brands” who came from humble beginnings running operations from a home office. Their Youtube channel hides their early videography attempts which raises eyebrows for the wrong reasons.
Who started Sik Silk?
You’ve heard the story multiple times, school friends, who worked normal jobs as a plumber, accountant and design engineer. They could not find what they wanted to wear, so designed it themselves, combining streetwear and luxury fashion, blah blah. It’s the bio of a multitude of copycat brands, who ripped off the backstory as well as the designs. It truly cannot be said by anyone else as the path had already been blazed into retailers and the mainstream. The boyhood friends of Barry (Baz) Gill, David Thomson and Sam Kay did genuinely go to Graham School together and remain business partners to this day. You have to doff their early edition hats in appreciation at what they achieved, as it proved a difficult act to follow. In fact they even tried again with Illusive London and found the road rocky rather than the highway to success.
Sik Silk’s breakthrough
The story is part fairy tale and the perfect storm, but also part entrepreneurial opportunity. Sik Silk’s breakthrough origins are actually ingrained in American Baseball culture after a stateside visit, and a self-confessed idea to bring it to the UK shores before anyone else. They sensed it’s potential popularity and took a gamble that paid off. Their first ever baseball jersey was a simple collarless pinstripe design with their famed siksilk logo on the chest. Much larger than the later years. On the subject of typography, the one they used made it hard to be found in the early days. The meaning and the reason is it is hard to read is the extra F in the SS. Fairly was the early collection, named after the area where they lived.
The Sik Silk Success Story
Initial interest was slow, but in fashion hard graft pays off. They visited stores in the North-East and Newcastle’s Project 722 took a fancy to give them their big break. The store its self was not the reason, it actually went bust a few years later. But it happened to be owned by a certain Gary Beadle who had spent the last 2 years being a lad on MTV’s Geordie Shore. A dedicated follower of fashion (who later part-owned 11 Degrees), loved it and wore it on TV. His celebrity friends were happy to do the same, and the brand benefited from social influencing before the expression had been coined. And before the agencies stepped in to hike the prices sky-high, people in the public eye would post for free, so the social reach was huge.
The snowball had started and they signed to a Southern agent in London’s UK68 Agency, who swiftly introduced them to Brighton-based Fashion Design Solutions to help with design and manufacturing. They then set up the deal with Footasylum which changed the fast fashion landscape forever. ASOS soon followed, and a deal was struck in Las Vegas for Footlocker and international success followed. Sik Silk’s use of Social Media, Gaz’s Network of celebrity friends and Youth TV Programs naivety on product placement all helped the brand exposure. With collab deals with Dani Alves, and Ronaldo and Messi wearing their clothes, the buys sure come a long way since that playground.