Words: Kazeem Kuteyi Photography: Kahlil Hernandez
If the sole purpose of New Regime as mentioned in the interview below is create and inspire, I buy that. To have an idea and follow it through till the end is not an easy task. In fact, to keep a business booming is not an easy task. The guys behind New Regime, Gildas, Setiz and Koku have managed to bridge the gap between streetwear and high fashion. From the glossy editorials to the over the top pop-up shops, you’ll see why they’re still in business. And if you enter Montreal today and ask, “What’s popping?” New Regime’s name will come up. There’s a spirit of authenticity that New Regime exudes and I’m sure their down to earth nature of doesn’t hurt either.
I met up with someone today and he was telling me about your pop-up shop in a Laundry mat. I was like, shit, that’s crazy! I’ve never heard of something like that. How do you come up with these crazy ideas?
Gildas: Our whole thought process as a creative group is just us shooting ideas around and one idea leads to another. I think Setiz came up with this idea and we realized we couldn’t do it, so then my brother came up with the laundry mat idea. I called a friend who just did a photo-shoot in the mile end and asked if they rented it out for events. He’s like, well, we usually rent it out for movies but you can use it for an event and that’s how the whole idea took off. We always had the idea of doing concept shop and using laundry machines but we couldn’t realize it at that point. But this time we said fuck it, let’s do a pop-up shop in a laundry mat because no one has done that before. Our whole thing is taking regular spaces and turning them into retail spaces.
What was the response like?
Gildas:It was great. We never told people it was going to be at a laundry mat. We just gave out the address. Some people took time to Google it and some people just showed up. We literally had the clothes in the machines and some of the machines had the drinks. We really utilized the space to present the clothes and I think that impressed a lot of people.
You guys are just not another t-shirt brand. I think there’s a high-end aspect to your stuff. Even when looking at your editorial content, is that the trend today?
Setiz: Well, I don’t know if it’s a trend but I think we bridge the gap between menswear and streetwear. We have the streetwear background but fashion interests us so we make sure to keep the streetwear feel to whatever we do.
Gildas: I think as creatives we don’t put boundaries to whatever we do. We just don’t wanna be considered another streetwear brand. If we feel like we can design a sick ass piece that can be in a runway show, we’ll just do it. If people buy it, they buy it, if they don’t, cool. We’re not just gonna do t-shirts because we’re supposed to do that.
Did you guys go to school for design?
Gildas: We’re some bum ass niggas.
Do you believe in the concept of school?
Setiz: That’s a tough one. We get the basics of education because that’s how society is set up. But overtime I think school teaches you to be a great employee.
It’s crazy you say that. We met an illustrator in London and she said the exact same thing.
Setiz: Yeah, you go to school all this time, and it’s like, “come work for me now”. I don’t wanna do that. Coincidentally, all of us happen to align with that vision.
When did you realize that you didn’t want to do that?
Setiz: I mean I knew when I was young. I always knew when I had 9-5 jobs. You know when you’re younger and you always tell yourself that you’re not sure. People look at you and think that you can’t keep and job but overtime you just realize that you don’t have to. I used to think that I’m not good at taking orders, that’s not it. I’m not good at being bossed around and not making anything out of that.
Gildas: I feel it kills your creativity. With me, the way I work when I’m at the office, I just go from one thing to another – that keeps me going. If I was a designer at another brand, I have to do certain things for that person in a certain time frame. The main thing is to do whatever you need do when you want to do it.
Did your families support this path you took?
Setiz: Yes and no. I’m Iranian so it’s strict. The idea is, go to school and have a career. A million Iranians are engineers and that’s the route I’m expected to take. The older generation doesn’t get that it takes time to be great. I think the lifestyle we promote is to get everybody to embrace his or her creativity. I’m not saying go quit your job. I was still going to school up until a certain point. I was still doing things to make money even though it’s not what I wanted to do. I think it was a group decision to prioritize this if we wanted it to work.
And yeah it shows. Even in this space, I can feel the story, the hustle.
Setiz: Yeah, for example when he (Gildas) mentioned that he goes from one thing to the next- that’s the whole idea for the way we designed the space. We have the ping-pong table and stuff because we want to enjoy being here. We don’t want to be at work and feel like we’re doing work. We can have our conversations while playing ping-pong and we have other friends who are creative that pop in and just chill out. Everything starts with a conversation.
I know social media has greatly impacted the reach of your brand so I think it would be stupid of me to ask that question. But if it didn’t exist anymore would you still pursue this?
Gildas: That’s a tough one. I was actually having this conversation with someone the other day actually. Definitely. You just have to use different ways. Word of mouth is important regardless of social media. If social media didn’t exist, I think we would make sure to get the word out through guerilla marketing, put posters up and what not. All those things are essential whether you’re on Instagram or not. We want to make sure that when you’re walking through Montreal, you know about New Regime.
Do followers matter? I guess for your brand it does. We live in an age that where we’re so focused on making sure that our lives in the virtual world is so perfect that we forget the real world. You know, real things.
Setiz: It’s a little bit of both. Clearly if we don’t have a following, things might not happen. At the end of the day we’re trying to sell a product. If we can’t sell a product then I’m gonna be selling tees out of basement forever. On the flipside, it’s not being pre-occupied by that and continuing to do what we do and then using social media as tool to get our vision out there versus just living for it.
What’s the sole purpose of your brand?
Gildas: I think the main reason for me is to inspire people. Another big part for the brand is to redefine the retail experience and by redefining the retail experience you inspire people to think bigger. I just don’t want to be doing things that won’t affect other people. If I do something really dope and it sparks someone else’s brain to do something great, I think that’s an achievement for me.
Setiz: Yeah, create and inspire.
Gildas: It’s not about us; it’s about what we can bring to other people.
Setiz: Uh, it’s about us too because we get a fulfillment from what we do.
Gildas: Exactly, you have an idea, you do it but then you have to get it out there so someone else can create.
What’s creativity to you?
Setiz: Everything. It’s crazy because we have these conversations all the time. Everything is creativity, the phone, the shirt, the table, the camera. Everything. What’s creativity to the world? Everything. Without it, we’ll walk around butt naked eating grass. A chef is a creator.
What would you say kids who want to get into making a clothing line?
Gildas: The first step is to do t-shirts if you don’t have a big budget and if you don’t know where you’re going. Doing t-shirts is the easiest route to testing your business sense and even your creativity.
Setiz: Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s not gonna work out on the first shot. I think the reason why we get along so well a team is that we had this obsession with getting better and better. None of us studied any of this but we took the time to learn about it. You just gotta trust yourself. We can’t just say create and create because kids are not just gonna wake up and say I’m creative today. Whatever you’re feeling, just trust it and try.
Did you believe in back up plans?
Setiz: Used to. I don’t any more
Gildas: I don’t.
So plan A is plan A
Gildas: Plan B is just a better version of Plan A.