Fashion | Brand Focus: DiscoTees
In this month’s Brand Focus, we speak to Chris Howell-Jones about DiscoTees — the clothing line inspired by the rich heritage and club culture of the Balearics
On his first trip to Ibiza in ’89, Chris Howell-Jones heard whispers of a once legendary after-party at a venue called Glory’s. The club had its golden days in the ’70s, and although he didn’t know it then, a photo Howell-Jones saw of a DJ wearing a Glory’s T-shirt from its heyday would go on to inspire his Balearic inspired clothing brand, DiscoTees.
Born in January 2021 from the struggles of trying to run a vintage market stall during three Covid-19 lockdowns, DiscoTees is built on the foundations of Howell-Jones’ love of music, fashion and Ibiza culture. Presenting the Balearic Breakdown Breakfast Show on 1BTN every fortnight, and co-running a Facebook group alongside Terry Farley focused on Japanese takes on American fashion, Howell-Jones is immersed in his inspirations.
“We launched initially with a small range that reintroduced some of the original, lesser-known Ibizan clubs and record shops of the ’70s and ’80s, along with a blog on our website that provides some of the history and background about these venues of yesteryear,” Howell-Jones says. “In fact, this all happened by chance,” he continues. “A friend of mine runs the Stylecreep menswear store, and he also has a garment printing business. I created a T-shirt that I thought a few friends would like, and within a week I sold more, and had a bit of a lightbulb moment: there is clearly a market for good quality T-shirts and sweatshirts with a Balearic heritage.”
Initially launching the brand with T-shirts, DiscoTees has since branched out with sweatshirts, hoodies and tote bags — big enough for 20 records, no less. The brand’s vintage Ibiza range is iconic, emblazoned with logos from legendary venues like Club San Rafael, Angel’s Disco and Festival Club. Respecting the heritage is just as important as paying homage for DiscoTees, too. In March this year, after ‘the father of the Balearic beat’ Alfredo Fiorito’s stroke, the brand launched its own fundraising campaign in the form of an ‘El Originador’ T-shirt: a tribute to the legendary DJ’s days as a resident at Amnesia, it raised several thousand pounds.
Not just in touch with the past and Ibizan heritage, DiscoTees strives to form a community with its customers, and connect and network with other creatives. “As well as creating our own designs, we now also produce time-limited collections for several record labels and DJs,” Howell-Jones tells DJ Mag. “We were approached quite early on by the labels Is It Balearic? and NuNorthern Soul, who asked if we would be interested in doing some collaborations, which of course we were. Even though we have grown quite quickly, it’s been important for me to retain that personal touch, so every order is giftwrapped and has a personal note from me inside.”
Although DiscoTees is inspired by the Balearic movement and Ibiza’s rich electronic history, remaining unique is critical for Howell-Jones. In an oversaturated marketplace of neon logos and atypical acid house smileys, the brand circumvents cheesy rave wear, perfectly balancing a vintage look and timeless design. Keen to continue on that individual and forward-thinking path, DiscoTees creates products with minimal waste. Every product is printed to order on high-quality blanks, and shipped out to customers in 100% recyclable packaging.
With an end goal of full sustainability for DiscoTees within the next three years, Howell-Jones is looking forward to the future. There’s a number of collaborations and limited runs in the pipeline, and it’s looking set to get even busier. “Covid-19 has forced more people to become more creative again,” he says. “It reminds me of what happened in the late ’80s when there was a huge burst of independent brands and musical artists. I think we’re seeing that happen again.”
Shop DiscoTees here.
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