Long Live Studios is an emerging streetwear brand, with a difference – that difference being an adage emblazoned onto both cap and cloth. Long Live. It is all about legacy for founders Kenny AJ and Wilfred Zaha, and the duo set out to make a bold statement with their initial drops. Without an air of bravado, pieces of the collection like the ‘Long Live’ un-hemmed hoody with felt detailing & the cotton biker jacket state ‘We are here to stay’, the question is for how long? We caught up with the team at Long Live Studios to gage their outlook on the future of LLS.
Between conception and first production, what has been the toughest challenge Long Live have faced to date?
I’d say trying to connect with an audience that immediately wasn’t fashion focused.. Trying to separate the stigma of Wilf being a fashion conscious football star trying to create a fashion line… Everyone has their expectations and opinions on sports stars who release clothing… we wanted to completely separate the two worlds. The direct consumers who happen to be football supporters won’t necessarily purchase a cap for £40 or a t shirt for £60 so we had to create branding that clearly stated where we stood in our intentions as a company. I guess this is where Wilf and i teaming up really helped, i’m known for my contribution to the fashion scene, so automatically i believe people knew that it would be more than just merch.
Which brands or fashion houses would you at Long Live align yourselves with?
Ermmm… i kind of don’t like questions like this, i’d just prefer to allow the story to organically position us where the world sees fit.
With the growing importance of micro-influencers and celebrity endorsements, to what extent do you believe consumers purchase due to brand story ?
Extremely important. People need something to connect to, something they can relate to. Understanding the concepts and stories thats gone in to the design process, people are able to wear a product with pride knowing that they fit in and stand out at the same time, that people understand who they are and what they represent based on their appearance. Long Live is a heavy conceptual driven lifestyle brand, we represent for those trying to breakout of the mental bars of society and follow their passions.
Starting a brand is no easy task, both Kenny and Wilfred have their own endeavours beyond Long Live. What advice will you give a young designer about managing the business side of running a fashion line in addition to having other endeavours?
Just believe in your product, thats the biggest thing you can do and be organised, failing to plan and be organised can really be the major downfall of your dreams. Just to add to that, use all resources around you, Money isn’t the answer to everything, capitalise on the thriving creative age we are in. Use friends with cameras, Social media, even your phone to do photoshoots, leave no room for excuses and make good use of what you do have and work towards the things you may need/want.
What is more important story or design & why?
I think Both play such an important role in complimenting one another. no one wants to buy rubbish clothes LOL but they also buy in to the branding. for us personally i wouldn’t know how to answer that lol. I’d just say they both play such a massive role in the end product .
Where does the inspiration for the designs at long Live come from?
Everyday life, Life will continue to throw challenges in your direction… we just chose to focus on the overcoming of those hurdles that we know so many people within our society constantly battle with and create something that reminds them that they are bigger than those issues. Both Myself and Wilfried come from families that do not originate from England, so statistically we are already at a disadvantage. We have both seen our families struggle and strive to produce what was then passed down to us and now its up to us to better the efforts of our hard working parents. The inspiration for Long Live started way before the idea of the brand was even thought of.
It’s still early days for Long Live, the average life time for an emerging fashion brand is 5 years. That is a daunting prospect for many start ups, what will ensure longevity for Long Live ?
This year I celebrated 10 years of my other brand Playdot Apparel, consistency and application is the key to the survival of a brand, it Can be done… Long Live is driven by real time life experiences, just as our lives progress and are tested, so will the company. We can only continue to press on and enjoy the good the bad and the ugly. We aim to create something that will outlive our own existence.