While Luke and Linda were in Portland, for the Luke Vicious pop-up, we had a chance to ask them a couple questions about Luke Vicious and how they built the brand.
What were you doing before Luke Vicious?
Not many people know this but I was making beats and Djing, like straight battle Dj. My garage was the go to place on weekends, everyone would come over smoke, drink, vibe out and get hair cuts as well, this was around 2006-2007. I was mainly into Underground Hip Hop but at the same time, all my friends were in Punk bands so it was such a cool mixture. You came to "Luke's Garage" when you needed that custom piece for a show, anything from denim vests to punk chains made out of scraps, it had to be loud and in your face. At that point I was hand painting straight onto the clothes with acrylic, chunky ugly acrylic, you wash it once and it's done haha! We used only vintage because none of us had money, instead of buying new tees we'd find our size and turn it inside out, technically this was the birth of the inside out remix tee.
Later I went to school for Graphic Design where they teach you absolutely nothing about fashion. After getting my BA I was approached to intern for both Stampd & Tisa. I worked for both throughout the week. In LA when someone hires you for a position you end up doing that plus 1000 other tasks. Through the next five to six years I learned everything from development to production, social media and even product shots! I wasn't a photographer by the way. Let's just say Youtube was my best friend at that point. “How to do a product shot?”
“How to shoot on a white background?”
Through all this I was also overlooking production at local LA factories, and learned something from each visit. I became educated about fabrics, fit, treatments and sewing which I kind of messed with already because of experimenting with one of ones. By the end of year one I felt like a color chemist that can also sew a garment from scratch.She (Linda) is my witness I would work four days a week 9am-8pm because my commute was about 2 hours on a good day. No lie I would get home and go straight to creating for myself all through the night. My goal was to finish about a piece every week and post something new every Friday even if it never sold I would be right back making another. As time went on I applied everything I learned into the work so the quality got better and better as opposed to looking so DIY, I was all about DIY don't get me wrong but I really cared about the details even down to the packaging.
When do you think that Luke Vicious got too big to do both? What was your turning point?
It was 2015! I got this email while at work saying Hypebeast was interested in a one of one project for their online store. I quickly made a presentation out of already existing things I've made in the past and sent it over. Layout was my strength due to Graphic Design so I made the most impressive presentation I could. Doing a collection sounded impossible to me but I offered one anyways. I didn't want to be looked at as just another DIY guy so I overachieved and created my first collection, "False Idols". A few emails back and forth and they sent in what would be my first official store order. I never imagined I would be offered as much money off my work, keep in mind I was a ghetto kid, and it was truly a push for me! Once the payment was processed I literally made the jump. I quit all jobs including freelance graphic design, which I was doing heavy at the time, I was doing tons of ghost work for big companies. I was willing to take the risk and it was time to take everything I learned and apply it all to myself.
We are going to switch to talk about Luke Vicious, what is your brand bio? What do you think about when you are creating?
Oh super easy, clothes that spark conversation. Also, creating something that stands out! I don't want to get all deep but there is something empowering about owning something no one else does. For instance, a dude walked in yesterday wearing one of my tees from a while back. It caught my eye instantly and I almost forgot it was mine. After realizing it was mine I was was taken back instantly to the moment I made it. I was like "oh shit, like this guy in Portland has this tee and no one else in the world will ever have that shirt." This is the feeling I hope everyone feels when they own something of mine.
What inspired you to keep upcycling vintage?
I don't like waste. Not trying to come off like I’m high and mighty, or Mr. Environmentalist, but I just fucking care. I feel like my way of producing doesn't add to this problem. I do small runs, even if I do something in my mainline they are limited runs. My quantities will always remain low even if I do dab into cut n' sew. As for vintage I just want to give it new life. I created this term called "New Vintage" basically it's a piece that confuses you when you see it like what came first. The tee? The Graphic? The distressing? Is it new or is it vintage? I don't remix everything I own by the way. I actually have a massive vintage collection that I am always adding to. Overall I feel like my limited runs makes me stand out. Once it's gone, it's gone forever.
What does your studio look like?
It actually lines up with this event! The whole "Support your local Underground" is mainly talking about small businesses ran like Machus and myself but also a nod to my workspace. I literally work underground, below a recording studio. Dim light, no windows, white walls and cement floor. I get fucking lost in there! Best part about my space is I can blast music and play drums all through the night. I definitely lose track of time as I create.
Linda: He gets lost in there, he absolutely must listen to music while creating. He cannot have silence at all!
Luke: I start working at around 6 o’clock and I usually end around 4 a.m. My schedule is really bad but in a strange way it brings me happiness. I work best when the city sleeps and working this way is crazy because it feels irresponsible to be up this late but at the same time, I am making a living off my passion and this is something I don't want to ever let go of. I think this is where my drive comes from. I need to create for my self sanity and if it's taken away I will lose happiness.
To Linda, you came on about four years ago to do the back end?
Yeah, about four years ago. Before this I was a bursar for a nursing school. We balance each other. It was kind of rough in the beginning because we have similar personalities. But we quickly learned that if we stay out of each other’s lanes, we thrive. I don’t interfere with what he’s doing. Luke: Yeah, it’s not all like cutesy and perfect. Linda: I do prefer to work from home just because I need to focus, and I can’t have loud music playing. We basically need separate work environments. So while he's at the studio I work from home. It just works out for both. In the beginning it was rough. We do things differently. I need structure as opposed to Luke who thrives off the chaos.
Do you remember the first order?
I do. We still follow each other on IG till this day. I don't even think he knows he was the first! It was a denim vest that said Los Angeles Scum on the back. It was a Levis jacket I distressed and bleached, hand painted the letters, cut it out and sewed it on the back.
What is your dream collaboration or your dream product to make?
I guess it's not really a product but more of an event. I want to do Art shows in the same places I've done clothing pop ups. I want to display my Art on actual canvas, show sketches and process. A Lot of people see my work and just think graphic tees but these graphics consist of symmetry, balance, shadow and color blending. I consider myself a fine artist before fashion designer and I would love to show them in a separate light.