Wavey Garms Showed Up For Soho.
If you just so happened to be aaat 'n' abaaat Soho's Walkers Court a few weeks ago, shortly before all of our eyes were brimming with tiers, you may have seen (and obvs heard) the launch of the Wavey Garms' XXXmas pop-up.
The vintage streetwear collective, known for their working-class-crowd mentality, links to South London's creative community and eclectic eye for wavey clobber, announced on their Instagram that they would be bringing together their choice of independent brands, DJs, club nights, record labels and artists to support local and creative talent this Christmas.
With a line up featuring the likes of Rinse FM's finest such as Emerald Rose Lewis, Hutch, Bluetoof and Eliza Rose, this launch was always going to bang. After the opening night popped off with a supportive crowd, the tone was set for a continued and well-earned success for the Wavey lot.
Even government announcements failed to rain on this urban parade. Upon having to close the pop-up early, Wavey Garms have taken their promised finale online by hosting a Charity Art Raffle, giving people the opportunity to win a Conor Murgatroyd oil painting worth £4,000. All proceeds will be going to Centrepoint UK, the number one charity supporting homeless young people aged between 16-25.
We went down at the time to scope out the arts and garms for ourselves.
Despite it being a gloomy Friday afternoon, the faint sound of jungle riddims tend to my soul as soon as I enter the pop-up, which is split into two parts; clothing on one side, the gallery on the other.
The first room is made up of various sections for brand labels and their people, with the most unapologetically loud clothing you'll find in this area of London flung across every rail and surface. Surrounded by bum bags, trainers, parkas, polos, bucket hats, fleeces and oversized T-shirts that scream old school garage - this is the dream for ravers.
All of these independent brands involved sell on the Wavey Garms Facebook group, which boasts a mad community of 96k members - all like-minded trend setters searching for the one-off steals to add to their collections.
Dipping into the gallery, which continues to portray a love of rave culture, I'm greeted by an eye-popping installation created by Sports Banger, whilst the rest of the room encompasses a number of youthful, nostalgia-inducing and trippy pieces from a range of artists, including the influencial Mark Leckey.
Talking outside of the pop-up with WG's founders Andres and Frazer feels like chatting to people in the smoking area of a club; an indicative reminder of the effect that music lovers have on people. Andres explains how the company began in 2003 as a Facebook group, due to him and his friends always swapping and sharing their clothes because they wanted their outfits to look fresh.
"There was a D'n'B group where people would share records, then we realised we could do the same for clothes and it all lifted off from there. Straight after that, we started getting job offers for styling" he explains.
With a huge involvement in club culture, Andres tells me how he's been hosting raves down South since he was 19 before they started getting stages at festivals. In 2015, they set up a Wavey Garms store in Peckham and with the likes of Fabric and Rinse FM on board, the numbers at their raves shot from 200 to 2000.
I fully sympathise as we discuss the four festivals they had lined up for this year that were of course cancelled.
"It made it feel kinda like Wavey was slipping away - so we knew we wanted to do something massive in Soho, something fun, as everyone has felt so depressed" Andres explains, "I always wanted to run a record shop, Disc World in Deptford was my favourite. When I was younger, I'd go to record shops but found they didn't cater for the jungle & dub scene, except you'd get D'n'B in Croydon. We wanted to bring back a more urban vibe to Soho, keeping it real".
Frazer says that throughout lockdown one they started raising money for Centrepoint Charity via live streams and gofundme pages. As Soho Estate had contacted them previously, it made sense to level up in Soho.
He explains that with so many people being unable to work for the last 8 months, this gives individual brands a place to come where they can make money whilst giving people something to look forward to. DJs haven't been able to play but this gives them a platform whilst involving the small and nimble brands. He makes a point about bigger brands being too scared to do anything like this at the moment, and I find myself agreeing.
"Our audience and generation aren't so scared by Covid, they're much more open to coming out and seeing what's going on" Frazer continues, "We've done this to be reactive. We know our audience wants something like this".
We discuss the future of the high street and the strategic direction for independent companies and brands such as Wavy Garms.
"The high street feels dead so a pop-up in the right area is a better look for us, especially when people buy into you. We're doing this completely off our own backs and if we break even then great, but it's been about the experience and giving people something to do" .
You have till the 14th January to enter their competition here whilst contributing to an incredible cause - details of how to enter are on their instagram, don't hang about!