May 30, 2008
We interview Ashdin Dalal of upcoming streetwear label VLNY BRND.
TM: When did you decide that t-shirts was your thing?
VLNY: I was fortunate enough to be able to intern for Zoo York during my senior year of highschool, which exposed me to the streetwear scene. Seeing how Zoo York grew from a small skate brand to being a part of Mark Ecko’s billion-dollar empire motivated me to start my own label.
TM: How long have you been in the t-shirt biz? And what have you learned?
VLNY: Everything in this industry is still really new to me and I’m constantly learning something new. I started VLNY BRND six months ago and everything that I do continues to be trial and error. I initially started hand-screening t-shirts in my basement and slowly learned the process of getting them professionally screened. I’ve taught myself everything from pre-production and designing images to printing, finalizing, marketing my products and networking.
TM: There are tons of cartoon villains. How did you decide on using the villains of “Wacky Racers” as the characters for your label?
VLNY: I think Dick Dastardly is one of the most villainous characters of all time. His voice, dog and even his name are devious and perfectly fit the image of VLNY BRND. The cartoons and movies today just aren’t the same. I grew up watching the old Cartoon Network / Hanna-Barbera cartoons and this is my way of paying homage to those characters which you just don’t see anymore.
TM: Which of your shirts is your favorite?
VLNY: My favorite tee would have to be this seasons Killa Cali tee. The design features California’s most notorious NFL star turned (non) murderer and also has a movie reference from “The Shining”.
TM: Do your run your label alone or do you have a team?
VLNY: I currently run all aspects of my label. I have a few friends who help out at events but the majority of work is currently done by me.
TM: Where do you get your inspiration from when it comes to designing t-shirts?
VLNY: Everything from movies, cartoons, politics and real-life events all inspire our designs. Take a look at our Myspace top-friends (www.myspace.com/villainybrand) and you can see the characters that directly influence our brand.
TM: What label(s) do you see as your biggest competition/the leader(s) of the game?
VLNY: I don’t consider anyone to be our competition. There is enough room in this industry for everyone to eat. Some labels that are making moves are Paid Bless, IM-King, ANML HSE, Fly Robot, Fuller… just to name a few.
TM: If I’m not mistaken, VLNY is targeting the streetwear audience. What has been your best marketing vehicle in targeting this audience?
VLNY: I guess you can classify us under streetwear, however I’m not trying to have a strict target market but instead build a universal brand that many people can relate to. The biggest marketing vehicle would have to be the Internet. Just being able to run a business from my bedroom should say enough.
TM: What’s in the works for the future of your label?
VLNY: Besides graphic t-shirts, I plan to move onto cut-and-sew pieces, outerwear and denim. I plan to introduce our initial cut and sew piece by this fall.
TM: What tips could you give to others trying to get into the t-shirt biz?
VLNY: There is a difference between constructive criticism and hate. There will be people out there giving you both and it’s important to listen to the constructive advice and ignore the rest. Also do some research on your printer before you send a deposit. Larger printers tend to push small brands / orders aside. Remember Industry Rule # 4080, big printing company people are shady.
For more on VLNY BRND, check out the VLNY blog