The Inception of Represent
Represent began as a college project when George Heaton realised that he could sell his art, in the form of graphics on clothing. He began by locally sourcing blank clothing and screen printing his designs. The brand name came from writing down 15 random names on a sheet of paper and landing on ‘Representing’. A friend then told George to drop the ‘-ing’, and the rest was history. Represent was born.
The first product was released in 2012; 20 box logo T-shirts from Merch Asylum print house. Fast forward to Summer, and George sets up a small booth at Abersoch’s Glass Butter Beach festival. After noticing that Rizzle Kicks were playing on the main stage, he handed them some box logo caps. The band went on to wear the caps on stage, and from there were seen fully draped in Represent clothing. Without a marketing budget, this was a huge boost for brand visibility. We began to gain traction with online sales, and soon Footasylum asked to stock Represent clothing; the beginning of B2B sales helped George build capital and start experimenting with more designs and production processes.
FW13 saw the inception of our first campaign, Ghost. This collection saw the end of screen printed, externally sourced clothing, and the beginning of garments wholly created internally. Ghost was made up of long, flowing pieces with stitching inspiration from Rolls Royce cars. The collection was well received, with Represent gaining press from Hypebeast and Highsnobiety. Alongside the beginning of Instagram and social media marketing, the brand burst onto the streetwear market; a British brand with a mission to create the best clothing in the world.
Owning the Process
Still working out of George & Mike’s family backyard shed, work began on the next collection. Having built a pattern cutting table and bought some used industrial machines online, production became a blended process, where samples could be created in-house and sent off to the factory in Birmingham. With the brand having moved way beyond printing logos onto blank clothing, it was a long process, but it gave George and Mike much more control over the details such as custom fits, shapes and fabrics. It was these aspects which separated Represent from the rest in the crowded streetwear market.
A Brewing Storm
It was in 2015 that we launched our Storm collection. Possibly Represent’s most ambitious campaign yet, the shoot location was in Iceland. The volcanic island backdrop created an other-worldly aesthetic which fused perfectly with the Storm collection.
2016 was a year of putting on the gas. It began with Represent’s first runway show; self hosted in the back of a jewelry store in Paris, the show presented to 100 buyers and press representatives. Following this back in the UK, there was a surge of visibility for the brand, following a Manchester exchange with none other than Justin Bieber. After a conversation, and a clothing drop off, Justin was wearing Represent for the remainder of his tour. The rest of the year saw the conception of London and NYC pop-up stores, Las Vegas shoots, and another self-hosted Paris runway show. We went big, with development of the Dusk boot, Alpha V2 and the HEATON sunglasses collab with LURA.
A Blur of Memories
This was a whirlwind year, starting out in January with Paris Fashion Week, closely followed by Represent’s first on-calendar runway show at New York Fashion Week in February. We showcased our FW17 collection, entitled The New Breed, which was made up of vintage British ‘mod’ era silhouettes. This collection escalated the brand in the eyes of the industry, and buyers from the major stores flooded in. Another NYC runway show followed in July to introduce the SS18 collection, Wide Awake. This show had 4 times the guest count from our previous show, so the pressure to present a stronger collection and show was on. We delivered. We followed the show by opening a 1 month temporary store in LA. Between the UK, Verona, Milan, Paris, NYC, Vegas and Ibiza, the team accumulated 50 flights and over 6 months abroad in 2017; it was a blur of unparalleled growth and incredible memories.
“Do today what others won’t, so tomorrow you can do what others can’t.”
As a transitional year for the company, 2018 was a difficult time of adjustment. Following the huge growth over the previous few years, we realised that we had to reimagine our supply chain. With the majority of our production at the time being in the UK, we came to terms with the fact that production processes here were behind the times with regards to vertical works, technology and turnaround speed. We quickly began searching for the best factories in Portugal, the hub of super high quality jersey and production capabilities. 2018 was a year of affirming relationships with new factories, adjusting to new processes and communications, and ultimately calibrating everything to accommodate the demand for our clothing. The change was long and arduous, but it was a necessary task to accomplish our mission to become bigger and better in every way.
As we considered how we wanted Represent to be positioned, we decided to not join the 2019 fashion show calendar, and go back to our roots with direct to consumer online sales. Alongside this, we decided to stagger releases on our own schedule across the year as opposed to dropping two collections annually. Amongst rethinking the business strategy, we began reimagining the creative process for SS20. The team took up a week-long stay at Soho farmhouse and got to work, collectively taking inspiration from the surrounding areas to create what became the SS20 collection. We booked Rockfield Studios, the legendary recording studio which birthed some all time great albums, to host the campaign shoot. Rockfield went on to be the name of the collection. Amongst conceptualising a mass of revolutionary garments, 2019 was the year that we made the final tweaks to the Alpha shoe silhouette, which had been in production since 2015. The shoe had always been a piece which defined Represent’s messaging and aesthetic, and we’d finally perfected it. It hasn’t changed since.
2019 also saw legends such as Meek Mill and 21 Savage wearing Represent, as well as the conception of the Reptor sneakers. The direction we went in designing the FW20 collection set the tone for the building blocks of the future. The Karmagawa collaboration also came along in 2019, which was put together to raise money for a lion sanctuary and shark charity in response to declining wildlife populations. In total, over £30,000 was raised for charity.
The year closed with dropping the Machine Gun Kelly capsule collection. This hit hard, selling out within 10 seconds of release.
An Ever Changing World
2020 began with shooting all campaign content for the SS20 and FW20 collections, however with the onset of the coronavirus outbreak in February, the world changed, and we knew we’d have to change with it. We slashed wholesale and put a focus on online, direct-to-consumer sales. We also began our schedule of weekly drops, which gave us a more consistent flow of return throughout the year, as well as a better understanding of what our customers liked best. By this point, our jersey t-shirt and hoodies collection had been perfected and combining vintage washes with Mike’s designs led to these pieces being some of the main products we became known for.
2020 was also the year that we converted our warehouse into our full time office and studio, since our stock was moving elsewhere. We kept the high ceilings and concrete floor, and installed dropped strip lighting and glass walls. The clean industrial setting was perfect for the concrete backdrop product shots that we have become known for.
Some of our most memorable pieces were created this year. The Reptor shoe was finalised, following which GQ Magazine named it one of the best sneakers in the world. Collaborations with bands such as Motorhead and Ozzy Osborne led to the production of our dedicated vintage rock t-shirts, which to this day are some of the most sought after Represent pieces. Furthermore, we launched our Blank collection, a range of minimalist luxury clothing which maintained the fit and fabrics of our mainline collections, in more tonal colours and washes without graphics. The Blank collection is now one our best selling ranges of all time.
One of the most notable 2020 releases was the 247 pant. Born from the desire to create a pant style which can be worn for every purpose, we took the silhouette of our best selling military pants and combined this with technical fabrics to create a piece which is just as at home in the gym as it is on the street. The 247 pants were the beginning of a full 247 range which includes tops, compression pieces, jackets, accessories and more.
A New Age
The year began with an overhaul of our website, with a completely new site built to align with the aesthetic of what we had become. The new site also provided customers with a seamless purchasing experience and new ways of viewing our garments. The 247 pants had been an instant success, and sold out instantly with every restock, so we began to build out the range with the same crossover of fashion and activewear goal.
The 3 pillars of Represent were born. We defined these as mainline, 247 and Blank, each having dedicated launches throughout the year, with every pillar having a slightly different demographic of customer.
2021 also saw the launch of our Owners’ Club collection, a range inspired by vintage car owners’ clubs, where like-minded enthusiasts can share their passions. We branded Owners’ Club to be ‘For enthusiasts, by enthusiasts’ to create garments which can be worn by customers to acknowledge their passion for the brand.