Interview with Daniel Tomley from THFKDLF – “We feel like were leagues ahead of them”

Things I didn’t realise ’til today: THFKDLF stands for “the fucked life”. Embarrassing, I know. With this newly gained knowledge we’ve talked with Daniel Tomley, one of the founders of THFKDLF about the label, inspiration and the story behind the number 13.

Recently I’ve learned that “THFKDLF” stands for “The fucked life”. Can you explain the story behind this name? 

The brand started as 2 of us had some ideas that basically revolved around fucking clothes up, at the time this was either us dying, acid wash or cutting sleeves off and putting different sleeves on. It was all pretty rough and a lot of the time messy work so the name came from that, we didn’t want to sell blank clothes so we needed a name, we came up with the fucked life and the brand began!

What exactly motivated you to start the company back in 2013?

We were obviously in a band that had a pretty strong diy ethic, so all our merch we were designing and printing ourselves. Certain ideas just didn’t seem realistic with band merch, it sounds selfish but it was hard to justify spending the amount of time we did on the fucked life on band merch when that money would pretty much just go on getting us to the next show. If the money was going back into making everything bigger and better I think our merch game could of blown every other band out of the water but instead the brand was born!

You and Jakub, the other founder of the brand, have some background in music. How does the art of making music distinguish from the art of making clothes?

There’s actually a lot of similarities, it doesn’t take quite the amount of work as an album but when we drop a big release it does have similarities to releasing an album, you get the whole build up, the press, trying to get as many peoples attention as possible and then you just release a body of work for everyone to see or hear. Then you just carry on the work of promoting it. It all comes from being creative individuals though, be it in a band or running a clothing company it’s amazing to have that outlet for being creative and everything that comes with it.

Your tumblr shows some interesting architecture photos. What do you like about architecture and does it influence the designs of THFKDLF?

Our tumblr is really just a massive mood board for the whole brand, nothing gets over thought, we’ll see an image we like and reblog it. It’s there then for anyone to see and for us to go back through when we’re looking for inspiration. Ideas can come from anything for us and sometimes that can be architecture, seeing a certain shape or curve on a building can end up being the influence for a new cut and sew collection or the clouds a building are reaching can become an idea for something else. All our collections seem to come from one small idea that we can then grow.

In your latest design you strongly focus on big all over prints showing different aspects of the nature like the sea and so on? What do you want to express with this?

We all love the outdoors and we’re lucky enough to live in a part of the world that is surrounded by amazing countryside, an hours drive and you can be at the coast, on our doorstep we have waterfalls,mountains,  huge lakes. We can’t deny that this hasn’t had a big influence on the type of print we like to use. Our latest collection we basically went around the world showing different amazing parts of it, we had colours in mind and prints we knew we could use to create garments in certain colours and looks.

In your latest image clip you tell your customers why you are doing most of the work by yourself in England. Isn’t it hard to compete with other companies, which are producing much more cheaper somewhere in China or Turkey?

We don’t feel like we’re competing with any other brands at all really, honestly we feel like were leagues ahead of them. I’m sure the owners of a lot of brands wouldn’t have the first clue how to actually make a garment from scratch. It might be good for there bank accounts when they can exploit these countries for cheap labour but what are they actually doing apart from posting pictures online and packing orders. We make clothes ourselves because we love being creative and love working at something we’re passionate about.

You’re also making socks. Do you think people are paying too less attention to their “sock game”?

I think socks are probably one the last things people think about when there getting ready or putting an outfit together but I can see that changing soon. The whole trainer scene is just huge and if people are spending all that money on new nikes or adidas trainers you can’t then just have a pair of ripped socks underneath them!

The 13 is “your number” and can often be seen on the back of your shirts. I guess this has something to do with the year of your establishment, but have you never feared the unlucky number 13? Aren’t you superstitious?

I’ve never been a superstitious person and I grew up a huge football fan and I still am so numbers on the back of shirts has always been something I’ve liked. I feel like the whole 13 being unlucky ties in quite well with the brand name too but it does mainly represent the year we established ourselves. I recently just got the number tattood on my arm so there definitely isn’t a fear of it being an unlucky number.

How does it feel when you see someone wearing the clothes you created in public?

It’s pretty great, theres a certain place we go to eat in London and almost everytime we go there we’ve seen someone wearing one of our tees, we just think its great! You got to remember though, obviously when we were in a band if we saw someone wearing a the elijah t shirt we’d expect them to know who we were but if there wearing thfkdlf then the chances are they have no idea who we are and wouldn’t want us running up to them all excited.