Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Cornelius Suen
Photography by Jenkin Au
The justalilhype! Crew visits Loose Cannons, a clothing brand headed by Chris Danforth and Kevin Reid, and finds out how they plan on shaking up the Vancouver fashion scene and to establish their reputation as style renegades. With bold ideas, open minds and an attentive eye for details, the pair are ready to surprise people with collections that vary drastically in theme and design elements.
In this interview, the pair tells us about how they met and how their love for Vancouver compelled them to base their brand locally instead of in Ottawa where they both attend university. With Loose Cannons, anything is possible and they are hitting the mark with their awesome work.
Please tell us about yourselves.
Chris: My name is Chris Danforth. I grew up in Vancouver and I study history at Carlton University in Ottawa. I have been pretty interested in clothing for most of my life so starting Loose Cannons is a good creative outlet to explore.
Kevin: My name is Kevin Reid. I also go to Carlton and I study industrial design. I have been designing and been involved in artwork every since I was a young kid. I also played for the Whitecaps back in the day. My high school life revolved around cleats and soccer equipment brands. Then, I really got into street wear when I started university and got into urban life.
Why did you come back to Vancouver if you were going to school in Ottawa?
Chris: Our families are here and we have branded Loose Cannons as a Vancouver based business all along. We were inspired by some of our friends who have clothing companies in the east. We wanted to identify with where we grew up and keep it close to home.
Kevin: Also, we just love it here. It’s beautiful. There are places here that you can’t find anywhere else, like Whistler. There aren’t many places like that in Canada. You can ski and surf in the same day.
Did you guys meet in University?
Chris: Yes and no. We went to the same school but at different times. He left the school in grade six and I got there in grade seven. However, we did have mutual friends and we met once.
Kevin: Yeah, at a birthday party.
Chris: I remember you getting thrown into a pool.
Chris: But we met officially in the first year of university I guess.
Can you tell us more about your respective roles within Loose Cannons?
Chris: I work more in the marketing aspect of the business. I make connections with people and I maintain the website and the blog.
Kevin: We obviously bounce ideas off of each other, but I am more of the artist and Chris handles more of the business side of it, but we each have input on every aspect of the business.
Chris: We both play a role in discussing what the designs are going to be, but Kevin does the bulk of the creating.
What is the history of Loose Cannons? How did you come up with this concept and tell us more about the brand.
Chris: The idea behind Loose Cannons originally was to embody the more positive aspects of being unpredictable. This was a good mission statement to start off the brand with because then we could experiment. We don’t have to stick with one theme or subject matter in our designs. Take the first collection that we did for example. The designs revolved around the theme of pop art because pop art was something that interested us at the time and something that we sort of got inspired by. We didn’t want to pigeon hole ourselves creatively and thematically, so we remain open to inspiration from any source.
Kevin: Yeah, the idea behind Loose Cannons is that we want to surprise people and catch them off guard. That is the mindset, and the name of our brand reflects that.
We understand that you have three logos that you guys are associated with and that represent your brand. Can you tell us more about your primary logo, the ‘L’ and ‘C’, and the considerations you had when creating it?
Kevin: We just wanted to combine the letters ‘L’ and ‘C’ together and make it look attractive. We tried a million different things with an ‘L’ wrapped inside a ‘C’.
Chris: Yeah, there wasn’t much thought put into the logo. We just wanted something that was aesthetically pleasing.
Now can you tell me about the native art of your secondary logo?
Kevin: We don’t have a native background but we feel that native culture has a big influence on Vancouver, especially the Vancouver art scene. I am a huge fan of Bill Reid, although I don’t have any relation to him, unfortunately. I love native art, especially Haida art. I find that stuff super attractive and eye catching.
Chris: It’s not a central theme of the brand but we acknowledge it because it is such a huge part of the Vancouver lifestyle. Also, this ties back into how we want to stay unpredictable. We do not want to stick with imagery or design elements to the point that we get too comfortable with something. We want
to branch out and experiment with new design elements.
You have one more representation of the brand, which is a cloud with a hole in it. Can you tell us more about that as well?
Kevin: That was an early logo that I was pushing but that Chris wasn’t as fond of.
Chris: I wanted to distance ourselves from it because the cloud shape is kind of generic. It was a pretty simple image of a cannonball going through a cloud. However, there is an interesting font on our tags that I want to utilize more. I want to use that more for our branding because it is simple but the font is classy and eye catching.
Kevin: This tag has a handcrafted vibe to it as well. As much as we are trying to put out eye catching graphics, a lot of what we do is making sure that our products are environmentally friendly and of the highest quality. Obviously we can’t make cut and sew products right now because our brand is still young, but give us a year or two and we will start designing our own fits and cuts as well.
You mention on your website that some brands overlook the simple necessities of clothing. What do you think other brands have missed but that you have incorporated into your brand?
Kevin: There are a lot of street wear brands that are just slapping logos all over their clothing. Obviously you want to brand yourself, but I think it’s the little touches you put onto your piece of clothing that are going to bring people back to your brand. For example, LRG just stamps its logo all over its clothing. We don’t really want to do that.
Chris: I don’t want to call anyone out, but we see other companies that take shortcuts and we don’t want to do that.
Please tell us more about the printing method that you chose for your initial line.
Kevin: I am in industrial design and I met a 45 year old ex-industrial designer who has a water based digital printing studio in Burnaby. He is a perfectionist and he is great at what he does, so we have been using him early on. We are going to keep using his services but we have also been making plans to start using screen printers for a thicker print look.
Chris: We are thinking of using silk screens on screen printers to get that thicker look, but we are still exploring our options.
Kevin: I am also interested in working on some hand painted tee-shirts.
Chris: That’s what I’ve wanted to do for so long, but it’s hard to find the right paint. Have you seen the BBC shirts that are kind of like dripping? I think what they did was get some fabric friendly paint.
Kevin: Yeah, I think we are going to try and push that in the future. We try to make each product one of a kind and hopefully we can do some unique hand painted tee-shirts in the future.
This collection is really pop art inspired. What made you incorporate pop art into your designs?
Chris: It was more of an afterthought. We had three graphics on hand and we just decided to use them in our designs.
Kevin: They were bold and were reminiscent of other pop culture items, like a Propaganda tee-shirt and Andy Warhol’s soup can painting. We also did a Hannibal Lecter shirt for Love Thy Brother, a Montreal DJ group.
Can you tell us about the goals that you want to achieve? What are some milestones in the lifespan of Loose Cannons?
Chris: I feel that a lot of goals that we set for ourselves at the inception of our brand have been achieved already, so that is awesome. Building a website for our brand was one initial goal and putting out a collection was another, and we accomplished both. As for the future, we are looking forward to doing our first collaboration and we are in the process of seeing who we would like to work with. Also, cut and sew lines, like Kevin mentioned, is definitely something we aspire to do in the future.
Kevin: As Chris said, we are looking forward to doing collaborations. We have plans for a vinyl toy and we are going to start working on it in the next few months. I would love to do some more collaborations like that. I still need to design the vinyl toy but we think it’s probably going to have a cannon for a head.
Chris: Yeah, the vinyl toy is going to be in the vein of a dummy, a character of sorts that people can identify Loose Cannons with. A figure with a cannon for a head would be cool. I also want to do a mixed-tape. We look forward to supporting musicians. We have a friend who is a DJ and we get him to hit us up with mixes.
Kevin: We are also into the electro genre and not just hip-hop. We did a mixed-tape with Neoteric, who is a Vancouver based DJ. It was like a summer disco mix.
You guys have mentioned cut and sew quite a few times during this interview. What is the first cut and sew item you guys want to create?
Kevin: We did a pocket tee that was almost like a cut and sew item. it started as a tee-shirt and we found some material to make the pockets with.
Chris: Yeah, those pockets were so difficult to actually make.
Kevin: I would want to do something like a baseball cut.
Chris: Personally, I would want to do a pull-over hoodie or something.
What is HYPE?
Chris: HYPE is whatever is in the moment right now. HYPE isn’t something that I look for in a clothing brand or something I want to buy. HYPE does not necessarily denote quality or fine craftsmanship. It’s just whatever is in the moment.
Kevin: Yeah, we are trying to bring HYPE and quality craftsmanship together in our brand. Also, HYPE is whatever everyone is jacked about right now. It won’t last longer than a month.
Chris: HYPE is a precursor to something being popular. Once it hits the mainstream it’s going to stop being HYPE. HYPE is like the anti-mainstream in a way.
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