Within the bustle of Camden Market overlooking the lock on the East Yard you’ll find analternative showcase of avant-garde fashion. La Mort Clothing – translated as ‘the mortality’ presents a unique street wear brand that combines death-laced designs with contemporary graphic art.
This stand out funereal fashion challenges the norm by incorporating detailed macabre imagery into everyday life.
“If you had asked me two years ago I’d have said that death wasn’t really a huge part of peoples natural conversations, but nowadays it has definitely become more fashionable,” says designer Faye Winslade.
“You only have to look at some of the high street stores such as River Island where skulls and death imagery has become more mainstream. I think our clothing brand has come at the right time and can act as a conversation starter.”
Faye started the company a year ago with fellow designer Dave Underwood, the pair met in 2005, while studying at the Wimbledon School of Art and bonded over a mutual love for drawing and an obsession with macabre symbolism.
“We kind of just came together and started doing it really,” explains Faye, “we are both very in tune with each other and thought it would be great to turn what we love into a business.”
The brand currently focuses on the creation of T-shirts for men and women, which are sold at around £20, as well as posters and bag designs, with the majority of the imagery formulated around an iconic skull pattern. The handcrafted images can take over a month to generate due to the meticulous detail that goes into the creative process – something Faye says their customers really appreciate.
Inspiration for the designs are acquired from a variety of places, including books about death and symbolism within plays written by Shakespeare. Although the images tend to focus around the skull – a key identifier of death – the clothing also expresses biblical images as the artists try to depict a narrative within their designs.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for La Mort Clothing, as with any small business, it has taken the designers a while to get used to the business side of things. Despite being great artists, they have had little previous experience in a business environment, and building the company from the ground up can be tough.
“We have had learn to work together productively as a team” says Faye,
“It has taken a while for us to set up sort of all the boring stuff, like money and publicising ourselves, but hopefully we will become much more popular within the years to come.”
Their most popular sales so far have been through advertising at tattoo conventions across the country, as well as their small pop up store in Camden.
“When we went to the tattoo convention last year on a fluke, we didn’t expect to sell anything, but we suddenly realised that a lot of the people that attend are our target audience. They really appreciate the handcrafted designs,” explains Faye.
La Mort recently attended the Brighton tattoo convention where they were able to showcase and sell the new additions and designs that had been added to the product line. Previous publicity also includes the International London tattoo convention and Sweden’s Nyon’s on Fire Festival where the frontman of the Swedish metal band ‘Conjonctive’ felt inspired to wear their T-shirt designs.
However the clothing range has not been without criticism; the controversial imagery can sometimes attract negative attention from the public, in particularly from those of a religious faith.
“We can get quite a few negative responses when we sell our work in Camden,” explains Faye,
“Very religious people often think that because we are drawing skulls we are automatically worshipping the devil, when it’s completely not like that we are just interested in that subject matter.”
Faye suggests that even some of her family members had reservations about her interest in drawing macabre artwork during university, as she remembers a time her mum asked “why she couldn’t paint something nicer like flowers.”
“ I stuck with it and now she’s 100 percent behind it, she can see how good we are and all of the family like to get involved. We couldn’t do it without them actually, they take us to the tattoo conventions and are all involved in the business in a hands on way, which is great.”
With a smart brand and website to match, these quirky designers hope their innovative imagery will not only get them noticed but will also make the intricate detail that goes into the art of death imagery more accepted and appreciated within the mainstream fashion world.
“We hope that our brand can get into shops and that we can work with others that are interested in fashion to help us expand on our t-shirt range. We are really passionate about drawing, but we are new to the fashion side of things so it would be great to work with others in the future. But for now we are focused on doing some more tattoo conventions and touring around the county to get more well known!” Says Faye.
Would you wear death imagery have your say at @dyingtotalk