Origin 68

February 13, 2009

By Coty Gonzales

Origin 68 is a clothing brand that was started by two friends in Manchester, England. They work around the clock to deliver tee designs that are not just fashion statements but define who they are. We are fortunate to interview one of the co-founders, Matt McKinney.

CG: What does the name Origin68 represent? What does it mean?

MM: We wanted to create a brand that had roots in both the past and the present day. We are very much influenced by all things retro and vintage but didn’t just want to create another brand that just churns out nostalgic mock 60’s/70’s designs. We want to encapsulate the spirit of the past and be able to put a modern spin on it, which led us to the year 1968. It was the cultural, political and musical developments of 1968 that fundamentally shaped the world we live in today. It was the year Martin Luther King delivered his famous, ‘I’ve been to the Mountaintop’, speech and his subsequent assassination. It was very much a turning point in the civil rights movement which has so much relevance today what with President Obama becoming the first black president of the United States. So much of what happened back then resonates with us today. Go on…research it. So we took this as our platform and it’s taken us on an amazing journey so far, it has provided us with endless inspiration. We even went as far as using the Frutiger font for our logo as it was created in 1968!

CG: Origin68 recently had two shirts published in the book Protest T-Shirts: Designs From The Cult Independents. What was that experience like and how did it come about?

MM: It was a great experience. To actually see our work in a tangible real-life book was quite special. It’s a good feeling knowing that somebody was so impressed they wanted to feature our designs in print. We were contacted by the author of the book and asked if we would like to be involved. Obviously we didn’t need to be asked twice!

CG: How did the two of you, Matt and Harry, meet and what inspired the two of you to start Origin68?

MM: We met, aged 11, at school. It only took us 15 years to find the inspiration to get Origin68 going. Basically born out of a love of all things shirty and seeing some of the sub-standard efforts out there and thinking, “We could do better than that”.

CG: You mention on your site that the idea of Origin68 was “knocked around in the pub”, if so, then the question begs – what are your favorite beers?

MM: Harry enjoys a tipple of Suffolk’s finest Greene King IPA, whilst Matt enjoys a nice creamy pint of Boddingtons. We both like Shiner Bock.

CG: What are your favorite designs from the Origin68 collection?

MM: Harry’s favourite is Butterfly Girl. Matt’s favourite is Up In Smoke. We sometimes fight about this.

CG: What has been the best piece of fan mail you’ve received in response to one of your shirts?

MM: The best piece of fan mail would probably be someone liking our designs so much that they actually wanted to come and work for us. That’s quite a compliment! They even wanted to do it for free! We would have happily exploited them but we just didn’t have enough work on for the 3 of us!

CG: What has been the toughest part of running Origin68?

MM: The toughest part of running Origin68 are the constant parties, the millions of dollars, the countless women, the fame, the paparazzi………. and trying to juggle day jobs with getting work done for Origin68 to a standard that we’re happy to put out there. That and tax. We hate the tax man. He probably hates us too.

For more on Origin68, visit their site.