Skater owned and skater operated, South London-based brand Baglady is what skatewear is all about. Founded by Tom Delion, the organic conception of the label, which may someday become a collective, was inspired by the relationship between art and commerce after Delion found himself wondering why more consideration wasn’t taken when choosing prints for T-shirts. Having worked for Yardsale for several years (another big player in the capital's skate scene) Delion wanted to take back some creative control and began designing in 2021. We caught up with Tom to talk about his non-profit, his process, and the future of Baglady.
First off, the name, where did Baglady come from?
I can’t remember the moment when I settled on the name, it was just a word and a concept in my head for ages. One of the factors was the Erykah Badu song of the same title, I just kept on hearing her voice repeating it over and over. I also discovered that a ‘Baglady’ was an old Vert trick, like a Losi grind but a stall on transition and similar to a back disaster but the front truck is on the coping and the board is angled.
Are there any other influences?
It went hand in hand with the conception of the company - I was at an exhibition at the Barbican called ‘Another Kind of Life’. It was a group show of documentary photographers and I got lost in Mary Ellen Mark’s work. There was one image that became one of my favourite photographs and I thought it should be on a T-shirt! Why are there not more companies that emphasize printing high-quality documentary photographs on clothes?
I went home and looked through my own work, to find images that I thought evoked a similar feeling. I found the photograph that did was of a woman in Japan, clutching all these bags - not necessarily a ‘Baglady’ as the term is often used, but a lady with a haunting stare clutching her bags and that’s where the name first made its way to the forefront of my mind.
Side note: When I was making my website one of the options to use as opposed to .co.uk was .supplies and I just started thinking that was a cool addition to the name and now it’s morphed into that.
What inspired you to start Baglady?
I thought about art galleries as spaces that aren’t accessible to all, but on clothes, in the street, everyone sees that. I like the idea that people could be walking around wearing photographic prints. I think it’s similar to train graffiti, which is something I’ve always loved and respected. When someone paints a train and it runs (is allowed to do its route without being cleaned) it travels all over the city and people who would normally not pay attention to Graffiti are forced to see it. I like the idea that clothes can function in the same way.
Who is involved and what do you want to achieve with it?
I worked at Yardsale for about four and a half years. It was a great time in my life and I have so much love for all those guys, but I had no creative control. I was working on photography as my creative outlet on the side and doing the distribution and fulfilment side of things over there and eventually, it became clear to me that I should be combining my creative exploits and my knowledge of the industry. So after a good period of inner conflict, I decided to go it alone and start from scratch with Baglady. I work with some friends of mine who run the graphic design firm All Purpose who assist me with some of the designs, but aside from that, I’m doing everything on my own.
The majority of your designs and iconography are original artwork and collaborations with photographers, is this a personal choice of yours and what shaped this form of communication?
For one, I decided I wanted to do everything within my circle because I am blessed to be friends with so many talented individuals, some of their work goes totally under the radar. It’s also a reaction to fast fashion brands who repeatedly rip off small designers as well as lazy skate brands who just take images from popular culture and print them on boards or sweatshirts. They know it will sell because people recognise the reference, but they haven't put any thought into it. We should be valuing original artwork much more.
To be clear there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking inspiration from something or even repurposing imagery. It’s all about the process, I mean look at Hip Hop, it would be nothing without sampling, taking a soul song from the 70s and using the tiniest piece of it to create a whole new sound in a different tempo, that’s a beautiful thing. But not just copying and pasting.
Are all the photographers you use friends or within your community, what is the process for selecting any artists to be involved?
So far all the artists have been people I already knew and was a fan of their work before I started the brand - most of whom I have had in mind for a while. Even though the conception of the company revolved around photography, this current season has incorporated collage and illustration into the designs, and for next season I’m currently working with a painter and an illustrator to create pieces.
Who rides for Baglady, any plans for the team, maybe a video soon?
It’s not a fully official team in the classic sense at the moment I am just skating with the people whose company I enjoy and whose skateboarding I respect but the main people are Daryl Dominguez, Davide Holzknecht, Aref Koushesh, Joel Banner and Henry Gibbs when he’s in town. We are currently working on a video, and it’s going pretty well. I think it’s gonna get people hyped and maybe be a little different. If it all goes to plan it will be released in early 2022.
You recently released a collaborative T-shirt and held an exhibition in support of Skate Nepal. What is your involvement there?
Me and Daryl started a non-profit organisation called ‘Skate Nepal’ in 2015 with the sole purpose of furthering the skate scene there. Since that point, we have assisted in getting skateparks built via fundraising, brought professional skateboarders to Nepal and done the first ‘Skateboard Tour’ in Nepal with Demo’s workshops and skate lessons. We also supplied the skateboarders with shoes, boards and hardware, everything they don’t have easy access to in Nepal. The scene is thriving, but they have recently had some hiccups; like the only skatepark in the capital City of Kathmandu recently being lost due to complications during Covid.
We are currently fundraising to build a new skatepark and a collaboration T-shirt with Baglady made sense as a way to reiterate the morals of the company: skateboarding is an important form of expression and should be accessible to everyone.
Lastly, what are the plans for the future?
Hopefully, the future for Baglady Supplies is to solidify ourselves within the skateboarding world with the Baglady Promo which should come out next year, and keep releasing clothes that people are hyped on. We will also be moving into cut and sew items, not just printed clothes. But also, try to put on more exhibitions/events that can be used as a platform for artists and creatives. Ideally, I’d like to do an exhibition alongside every clothing drop and start releasing more books and zines to accompany products. With our first drop, certain T-shirts came with a little print, I’d like to further this idea that when you are buying a clothing product you also get a piece of art for your wall. Lastly, I have always thought that decks were akin to prints so maybe at some point, we will see photographs on boards.
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