Words: Colin Brownbill
Glasgow is a creative city. Whether it's music, art or fashion, the community is strong, and everyone is doing it for the right reasons. This includes Keir Lindsay, driving force behind SFbrand, a clothing label which wears its heart on its sleeve.
Embedded in Glaswegian youth culture, the brand embraces the style and personality which makes this city unique, developing distinctive designs which are both cutting-edge and brilliantly nostalgic.
Originally formed as a skate crew in 1999, SF (which stands for 'Skull Fuck', in case you were wondering) transitioned into a clothing label when the crew disbanded some years later under the weight of adult responsibility. "Everyone moved back home and got families or proper jobs" reflects Keir. "I decided that I would never let SF die, and wanted it to continue to grow and evolve."
Taking his skating influences with him and picking a few more up along the way (including white label techno from Rubadub and late night sessions listening of Dave Clarke at Johnny Whoop's house), Keir sought to channel his creative energy into something tangible, and SFbrand was the result.
"The label is all about the freedom I’ve found through skating and partying; great friends, great music and great experiences" he tells us. "The label also encompasses ‘Scottishness’; it’s about fun and not taking yourself too seriously, but also about looking distinguished and quite smart."
From the rain-ready windbreaker and super-stylish beanie, to the instantly uplifting 'Glasgow Smiles Better' and tartan-printed tees, Keir has successfully captured the essence of Glasgow with a brand which is confident, creative and fun. "I dream about Glasgow, and I personally love being Scottish" Keir says passionately, "this is the ‘Dear Green City’, and we are very proud to reflect that."
Read our full interview with Keir below, in which we talk more about the early days of SF and the 90's skate scene, how city-living influences the label and why Jackmaster and Nightwave are 'top troops':
SynthGlasgow: SF originally formed as a skate crew in 1999; what can you tell us about the origins of Skullfuck prior to the launch of the clothing label? What was the skate scene like in Glasgow back then?
Keir: I personally started my journey into the skate world at the age of 11; I was just a wee bam, but with the help of my new found friends, I was able to submerse myself in the wonderful culture that skating presented. When I started in 1996, rollerblading was absolutely huge and everyone had a pair. I fell in love with it straight away and it shaped me into the person I am today.
My friends at the time were mostly older than me; Big Colin Davie would lend me his early Offspring tapes, Mervin and Robin Adams would show me Beastie Boys and NOFX, and Big John Cairney got me into some jams he would make on his Roland 303. Then they would tell me about the Wu-Tang and lots of early techno stuff from Derek May and Kevin Saunderson.
Lots of them had decks and they would show me all the white labels they would get from Rubadub. It wasn't until last year that I properly met Wilba (Rubadub founder); I was very sure to thank him for all the music he essentially allowed us access to, and of course this was before the internet. Shouts to Golden, Neil Owen, Gojar, Ushy, Del (RIP), Eddie Lyons (RIP), Owen Caldwell, Johnny Hock and the many other greats from around the area at that time.
Then, as the boys started getting into The Arches and listening to heavy techno all night long, we would listen to Fuse presents Dave Clarke constantly in Johnny Whoop’s house (shouts to Auntie Linda). I continued to keep my skating up and met with people from all over Glasgow, from Larkhall to Balloch. We travelled the whole of Europe going to skate competitions, making new friends and filming our stunts. They were great times I’ll never forget. The skate scene was so much stronger then than it is now; we never had skateparks and everything was just raw madness on the streets. It was very pure…it was immense.
SG: We’re a little bit late to the party, but it’s safe to say we’re all over SF now. How did the transition from skate crew to clothing label come about? And who is involved?
Keir: The skating came to a climax in 2004 when our friends from Sligo, Kevin and Paraic, came over with some other Irish skaters. It was kind of like a joining of forces, and everyone was just pushing to go wild; the outcome was our SF 1 and 2 DVDs. After this had finished and everyone moved back home and got families or proper jobs, I decided that I would never let SF die and wanted it to continue to grow and evolve.
I realised the way I could do this would be through a clothing brand. I feel that the brand comes across as a genuine product and experience, and how I feel is validated by other people. I run the brand by myself, although without all the great people that show interest, help me with suggestions and of course buy the stuff, the brand would not exist. So thanks everyone for all your support and help.
SG: There are some obvious Glasgow influences in your designs which make the brand quite unique. What aspects of Glasgow-living have inspired the label?
Keir: The label is all about the freedom that I’ve found through skating and partying; great friends, great music and great experiences. The label also encompasses ‘Scottishness’; we are very aware we're from here and we like to represent that through our products. It’s about fun and not taking yourself too seriously, but also about looking distinguished and quite smart. This is the ‘Dear Green City’, and we are very proud to reflect that.
SG: Our favourite t-shirt is the ‘Glasgow Smiles Better’ design which never fails to attract attention. Younger generations might not be aware of the original campaign it was used for however, so can you tell us a little about the back-story and why you felt it would adapt well to a modern market?
Keir: The original campaign stated ‘Glasgow’s Miles Better’ and utilized that slogan/logo to promote Glasgow as a city. The idea was to promote the positive elements of Glasgow life, and that is exactly what we aim to do with our brand; so re-articulating this slogan to ‘Glasgow Smiles Better’ fitted perfectly.
SG: You’ve been endorsed by Glasgow DJs like Jackmaster and Nightwave in the past; does the city’s club culture and electronic music scene feed into the brand and what you do?
Keir: I have always loved music of every kind from a very young age. I am a big fan and friend of both Jackmaster and Nightwave; I’ve been aware of Jack as an up and comer since he was a young boy at 14, right through to the huge DJ he is now. I’ve only known him personally for the past 10 years, and become friendlier with him in the last few years because he's just a sound, hardworking guy who is great fun to be around and does so much for us as a city.
Nightwave came to my attention a few years ago; she's also like Jack - good person, hardworking and of course an outstanding DJ. It wasn't a conscious thing to have them promote the brand in anyway, but I'm very happy they help me out by wearing the stuff and I'm very thankful. Shouts to Jack and Maya, TOP TROOPS! X
SG: for those who might be thinking of launching their own label and need some encouragement, what is the most satisfying part about what you do and what advice can you give to those starting out?
Keir: I have to admit, without those immediately around me, all this would not have been possible. The most satisfying thing is when someone walks by you that you don’t know wearing SFbrand; it makes you feel very proud, like all the handwork is paying off. Everyone wants to DJ or be a big skater or have a clothing brand, and when some people see that’s what you are doing then it can attract some resentment, negative comments and doubt. My advice would be, go for it and don't listen to the negativity - without positivity this world would be nothing.
SG: Finally, your winter range proved very popular and there’s clearly a lot of momentum behind you. How do you see the label developing over the coming years and what should we look out for in the near future?
Keir: I dream about Glasgow, and I personally love being Scottish. I'm very proud to be from here and would not rather be from anywhere else. I know many around me agree, so we will continue to find fresh influences from here, in our own city and country.
We have been doing research in France, Switzerland and London to see what other brands deliver in these places. There are certainly some new concepts in the think tank, so look out. Tomorrow we are away to Lima, Peru, so expect to see some influences from there in our next line as well.
Thank you very much to everyone reading this and thanks to SynthGlasgow. Thanks to everyone for supporting us and being generally sound. Love BFL, SF1 x
Check out the SFbrand website to view their current range, including tees, hats, bags and jackets.
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