The streets of New York City embody an unequivocal vitality. The culture harnessed within the walls of the five boroughs is palpable, and it speaks to the masses through a litany of outlets. One of the most visible, which has been an undeniable staple – is fashion. Twon clothing emblazons their products with the icons reflective of life in the â€œBig Apple,â€ resulting in garments unique as it they are aesthetically deft. One shirt boasts the infamous NewPort cigarette green and white as a vibrant backdrop to the silhouette of the skyline. Corey Ng, Sales Director at Twon, discussed the genesis of the company with Format; from graffiti riddled brick walls to Canal St.
â€œIf someoneâ€™s bootlegging your shit that means youâ€™ve made it, because it deserves to be bootlegged. If someone bootlegs our stuff, Iâ€™d be honored because that means that it was good enough for someone to talk it and then make money off of it.â€œ
Format: What does â€œTwonâ€ mean?
Corey Ng: Twon evolved from two Nâ€™s, the number two, and an â€œN.â€ We started back in 1999 as a graffiti crew, so weâ€™ve been doing it for nine years now. We evolved with the name and started spelling it out as â€œTwonâ€ and we stuck with it (in like 2002 or 2003). And pretty much, back then we were young, so the two Nâ€™s represented two nice, or too â€œnyce.â€
Format: How did New York City influenced the designs?
Corey Ng: I mean, this our first season ever, and you can tell from our designs weâ€™re very New York based right now. Weâ€™re all about New York street culture, downtown culture, LES China Town influenced us a lot- I mean, everything thatâ€™s happening in China Town and LES the whole hip-hop scene here. Graffiti, as of right now weâ€™re straying away from it, but thatâ€™s what we were brought up on as kids. Like all the LES crews.
Format: How many people do you have working on the clothing designs?
Corey Ng: Right now weâ€™re just starting off. I have a Creative Director named Wing Li. Heâ€™s basically generating most of the designs and itâ€™s also a collaborative effort with the rest of the organization, which consists of only five people right now. Itâ€™s definitely grass roots, this is our first season and I think weâ€™re doing real good. Weâ€™re getting ready for the next season to come out soon, and weâ€™ll see where it goes from there.
Format: What message are you trying to convey through the clothes? Corey Ng: Weâ€™re not trying to convey a specific message to those that wear the clothes. Weâ€™re more just representing the New York City street culture and what we experienced throughout our lives. I wouldnâ€™t say itâ€™s personal, but itâ€™s what we know, what we learned growing up, what we see and other things that are happening in the New York area. Like, the â€œClient 9â€ shirt has to do with that whole Elliot Spitzer scandal and the skull, if you see it, itâ€™s not a regular skull and crossbones. It has an Asian feel because weâ€™re Chinese.
Format: I noticed you have a Canal Street shirt in the new line, what do you feel about bootlegging in general?
Corey Ng: I mean, bootlegging I feel personally thereâ€™s nothing wrong with bootlegging. If someoneâ€™s bootlegging your shit that means youâ€™ve made it, because it deserves to be bootlegged. If someone bootlegs our stuff, Iâ€™d be honored because that means that it was good enough for someone to talk it and then make money off of it.
Format: How do you think music influences fashion?
Corey Ng: I think music has a huge influence on fashion. You see nowadays, especially in the street wear, the shirts have lyrics on it they have biggie, Tupac, Wu-Tang. The musicians and hip hop artists, theyâ€™re the ones who are going to be wearing your clothes, and so it influences us a lot.
Format: Has the new line generated a substantial buzz?
Corey Ng: Yes, the two shirts which have especially got us a buzz out there and on the block are the â€œNew Portâ€ and the â€œCanalâ€ shirts. The Canal Street lV, it got us out. I was actually watching MTV the other day and someone was wearing the New Port shirt on the artists of the week thing.
Format: Are there mainstream artists who are willing to endorse TWON?
Corey Ng: As or right now, no. But we met Pete Rock and gave him some of our shit. We met U-God. Actually, U-God was in the studio last month with one of my boyâ€™s friends, and he was wearing the â€œCanalâ€ shirt, and U-God was like â€œGive those dudes a call, I want that shirt right now,â€ so we headed over. He was in the middle of recording his album, so we had a little meet and greet and we gave him some stuff. Weâ€™ve met Just Blaze, and gave him some stuff. We donâ€™t have any celebrities officially endorsing our stuff right now, but thatâ€™s always a possibility weâ€™re very interested in doing things like that and of course we want celebrities to wear our stuff.
Format: Where are the clothes currently available?
Corey Ng: Well, we have a new website Twonnyc.com, weâ€™re out in boutiques like Union New York, Union Los Angeles, in Miami at Shoe Galleryâ€¦we have two stores in Hong Kong that carry our stuff and a store in Japan.
Format: Where do you see the trends in the fashion world heading?
Corey Ng: Honestly, a few years back when street wear started booming it was all overprints, crazy ass colours. And thatâ€™s when you see people with those 80s haircuts like flattops and shit, but I think in a few yearsâ€¦ it will come back full circle where youâ€™ll see people starting to wear more subtle stuff, more plain stuff, without all the crazy colours. But right now, I only see crazy rainbow colours all over the shirts, crazy shit with the sneakers, but it will be back to the plain style in a few years.
Format: Are the designs going to remain exclusive to New York, or does Twon look to make clothes that reflect the cultures of other major cities?
Corey Ng: Oh of course, weâ€™re definitely going to diversify. The thing is, weâ€™re always going to have those shirts that are New York because itâ€™s where weâ€™re from and its what we represent- but weâ€™re going to move out. We have a store in Hong Kong- in the front itâ€™s a boutique and in the back itâ€™s a tattoo studio. So now that we have the clothes in Asia, weâ€™re going to continue to diversify. But, weâ€™re always going to have those one or two things that have that New York theme to it.
Format: What can we expect from Twon in the immediate future?
Corey Ng: In the immediate future we have stuff thatâ€™s going back to the graffiti. The trains back then were the red bird trains, the all red trains, and they donâ€™t exist anymore. So, weâ€™re going to have shirts paying tribute to them, representing all the old graffiti writers and what we used to do. Weâ€™re going to have a Street-Tech t-shirt, because the retro Street-Tech are really coming back into play right now. Weâ€™re going to be working with other artists also, and also other companies doing a ton of collaborations and stuff. Look for bigger lines because our first line is only five designs, but weâ€™re going to be doing hoodies, crew necks, and other stuff like that. Crew necks are definitely going to come into play in the fall, I have a lot of people asking me about that. Word.