Denim label Ullac is one of London’s coolest unisex labels to emerge. Founded in August 2017 by Preston-born brothers Christopher and Kyle Lynd and their friend Gavin Weigh, the brand saga began with 300 pairs of jeans crafted from raw Candiani denim. Yet to celebrate its first birthday, Ullac is wise beyond its years with some crafty tricks up its sleeve, which have cut through to young consumers typically immune to traditional marketing methods. Here, co-founder and creative director Christopher Lynd tells us how it’s done.
How did the idea behind Ullac come about?
The three of us had talked about setting up a fashion brand for some time, even when growing up in Preston in the north of England. Up until recently, we were all working in different creative fields, Kyle and I in London and Gavin in Helsinki. Clothing and denim have always been huge interests. I’ve been a collector as far as I can remember and I’ve kept every single piece. As for our own startup, it was important to develop something really nice but accessible. Cutting out the retail middleman allows us to offer ethically made clothing of high quality without the price tag you’d expect. We have a social conscience and like to pay people a fair wage for their work and it feels really nice to say to customers, ‘yes, these garments are quite exclusive and made to ethical standards, but they’re not as expensive as they’d be in a shop.’
Tell us about the Ullac look and the influences behind it.
There’s a hint of Japanese streetwear going, as well as a cleaner Scandi element. I also think my teenage years play a role – I grew up in the ’90s, and used to stare at the older kids hanging out smoking… they were probably harmless, but to me they seemed a bit dangerous. I was fascinated by the way they dressed in big chore jackets and baggy jeans. As a designer, I have a thing for clothes that can be worn in different ways and transform depending who’s wearing them. Our oversized jeans with drawstring can take many different guises, for example.
You work with batches rather than collections. What can we expect from the upcoming batch 3?
A pajama suit in a striped cotton/linnen mix by Italian mill Berto is coming up, and we’ve also designed a painter’s suit in black, over-dyed Candiani denim, and a beautiful baby blue cord smock. Later on, we’ll add some interesting jersey pieces. We tend to split the batches in two, so these will arrive in the latter part of the summer.
What are the pros and cons of running a direct-to-consumer business?
We love being in touch with our customers directly, and it allows us to be reactive, customizing pieces in the studio if a customer requests it. We also get feedback on our clothes in real time, so we can tweak things if needed. It’s a bit of a challenge not to have a physical touch-point – someone interested in a pair of jeans by a big brand can go and try them on almost anywhere to get the fit right. But we’ve found that the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
How do you connect with new customers, and maintain the loyal international following you’ve established?
We love building our community and making new friends, both directly with locals dropping into out studio and those reaching out digitally through social media or via our online store. It’s important for us to run the brand in a personal way. Each jacket, for example, comes with a hand-stamped tag, and we don’t want the personal touch to end when the garment leaves our studio.
How do you manage this once an order has been shipped?
My brother Kyle and I are constantly on social media communicating with customers, and we reply as soon as someone sends a message via the web shop. And here’s another example – we want our clothes to be lived in, partly for sustainable reasons, and to encourage this we offer customers a new garment when they’ve worn their original purchase 300 times. To keep track, we ask them to post 300 photos of the garment being worn, with us cheering on from the sidelines… Some have set up separate Instagram accounts to show these journeys – ullacfader and ullacprojects are two of these. They’ve all become friends, which is really nice. When someone posts their 100th pic, I send out a letter similar in style to the one people receive from the Queen when turning 100.
Is there something as standard as a Ullac newsletter?
Yes, there is. Kyle writes these, but it’s not a newsletter as such, but more of a personal email – a random message that he sends out sporadically.