Born in 1998 out of a passion for tattoos, punk rock, beer and Elvis, the original one-man operation has become the market leader in its field in Europe. The strong presence of the skull and cross bones symbol on much of the brands merchandise, an iconic representation of classic tattoo art, has made Liquorbrand one badass addition to the world of tattoo culture. Always pushing the limits with graphics and designs, Liquorbrand continues to fuse subculture with fashion while remaining true to their roots and creating the most authentic gear possible for their customers.
â€œThe tattoo culture is very iconographic and there is a lot of flirtation going on with darker themes. Why skulls? Because they are badass. Nobody wants to die, but everybody wants a skull on their t-shirt.â€
Format: Please introduce yourself to our readers and describe your role at Liquorbrand.
Tim: Iâ€™m Tim. I started Liquorbrand back in 1998. I come up with all the concepts for the products and designs and I also deal with our larger accounts.
Format: What inspired you to create Liquorbrand?
Tim: Back in the day, in Belgium where I was living, there were zero cool clothing lines around. My friends and I would go on road trips to other countries, looking for specialty stores to buy overpriced imported clothing that represented our lifestyle. Most of the time these trips didnâ€™t amount to buying much clothes though, after spending all the money we had on gas and beer we always came back home empty handed. I took the DIY approach and decided to do something about the lack of cool stuff. I began screen-printing t-shirts in my basement, using tattoo graphics from a befriended tattoo artist.
Format: You started off a one man show. Do you still manage to do everything solo, or has Liquorbrand become more of a team over the years?
Tim: I still do the bulk of the designing, but weâ€™ve got a great team that takes care of logistics, accounting, screen-printing, and basically everything down to making coffee and cleaning up the print shop. Everybody is involved in mostly everything; itâ€™s a joint effort really.
Format: How has Liquorbrand evolved since its inception in 1998?
Tim: Liquorbrand grew slowly in the early years, but got a boost around 2003. The stuff we were making came in fashion and everybody wanted a piece of it. This boost in demand gave us the opportunity to create more than just the t-shirts and occasional accessories we were doing at the time.
Format: It says on your website that the brand was born out of a passion for tattoos, punk rock, beer and Elvis. Why Elvis?
Tim: Elvis is King! Iâ€™ve always been a massive Elvis fan. His music was just unreal, his uber-cool persona, the jumpsuits he wore later in life, the guns, giving away Cadillacs, the crazy amounts of food he consumed, the drugs, his exit, and even after he died the sightings. I mean Elvis touched us in ways no other musician has. For me, Elvis is so out of this world that I sort of try to convey this in the clothing that I make.
None of the Liquorbrand clothing is 100% purist rock â€˜n roll or whatever you want to call it. There is always a twist, a hidden joke or something thatâ€™s funny. A lot of the time itâ€™s in the overstatements like a t-shirt with a slogan â€˜Too Tough To Dieâ€™. I mean thatâ€™s just ridiculous, but itâ€™s cool and thatâ€™s kinda what Elvis means to me.
Format: Are tattoos a major inspiration behind your designs?
Tim: Yes. Euro-American traditional tattoo art is the major influence. It was so in the beginning before it became fashionable and will still be there long after the hypes dies out.
Format: Are you a one or two tattoo kind of guy, or do you treat your body as a canvas and have multiple?
Tim: Iâ€™m pretty much covered from head to toe.
Format: One of the most prevalent designs in your collections is the skull and crossbones; a symbol that is generally used as a warning of danger. Is there a reason for using this symbol repeatedly, or do you just like it?
Tim: Tattoo culture is very iconographic and there is a lot of flirtation going on with darker themes. Why skulls? Because they are badass; nobody wants to die, but everybody wants a skull on their t-shirt. Itâ€™s just flirting with the unknown I guess, if you want to be philosophical about it.
Format: You started off as a t-shirt company and have since grown into a brand that includes a variety of different types of clothing and accessories. Do you have plans to expand the brand further?
Tim: Not really. Iâ€™d rather make the basics better; there is always room for improvement from printing techniques to different fabrics to packaging. Sanrio/Hello Kitty is doing a great job at that. Hello Kitty laundry machines, toasters, notebooks, vibratorsâ€¦anyone?
No seriously, respect for Hello Kitty, theyâ€™ve been around for something like 30 years and created every product imaginable. Iâ€™d just rather stick with things you actually use on a daily basis.
Format: You have become a leader in the European market, but do you find it to be more of a struggle to make your mark in the North American market place?
Tim: Yeah. America is a way tougher place to get your brand off the ground, mainly because shops arenâ€™t used to dealing with importing goods and different currency. The first question we always get is â€˜oh, youâ€™re overseas?â€™, but once they order they keep ordering so we must be doing something right.
Format: Are there currently any Liquorbrand stores, or can merchandise only be purchased on line?
Tim: There are no Liquorbrand-only stores; we do all our business, wholesale and retail, through our online store: www.switchbladeonline.com
Format: What is next for Liquorbrand?
Tim: We recently started printing in-house, so thatâ€™s a whole new challenge. For the future, continue pushing our personal limits and trying to make the coolest possible stuff that we can. The stuff weâ€™ve got on the agenda for 2009 has some of the best designs weâ€™ve done so weâ€™re really excited about that.
More Info: www.liquorbrand.com