On the back of the release of the BN X ILU collaboration last week, we thought it was the perfect time to get a behind the scenes view of our biggest collaboration yet. We sat down with Joe Levy, I Love Ugly's Head Designer to get to know more about the ILU brand and how this exciting collaboration started.
The ILU team working on the detailed process of developing film from the look book shoot.
The I Love Ugly journey began back in 2008. For our Bailey Nelson fans, followers and customers that aren’t familiar with ILU; tell us a little bit about yourselves, the brand and your ethos.
Absolutely. As you mentioned it started back in 08 initially as an art project for Founder and Creative Director Valentin Ozich, with screen-printed illustrative tees sold from his Mt Eden apartment. And I guess, as they say, the rest is history…
The I Love Ugly brand ethos can be best defined as producing an everyday premium product of sophisticated simplicity for the creative, aspirational man whilst spreading a positive, aspirational message.
I Love Ugly has established itself as a huge name in Men's fashion here in NZ and globally. What is one integral part of ILU that separates you from other brands, and keeps your label ahead of the game?
That’s a good question. I think our approach to fashion is an integral part of what sets us apart from the ‘status quo’. We don’t conform to fashion’s traditionally ‘seasonal’ release structure, we release monthly. We design goods with a timeless aesthetic that has a twist - modern interpretations of classic silhouettes and inclusion of ILU illustrative prints, something we have become synonymous for. We also place equal value on product and marketing, placing a strong emphasis on unique content creation and marketing strategies.
I Love Ugly has a very strong voice. The message you put out is always inspirational, forward thinking and out of the box. How do you ensure that this mentality is shared from the creative team to all ILU employees?
It’s actually pretty straight forward. I think because we have a lot of clarity with regards to our voice and what we represent, we attract a certain ‘ILU’ psychographic. So no matter the skill-set, we attract aspirational types, that align with our message.
How would you describe I Love Ugly’s aesthetic?
Sophisticated simplicity for the independent mind.
How did this collaboration initially come about?
As organically as you could possibly get! I popped into the High St Bailey Nelson Store in Jan of 2018 with the intention of getting some new optic frames and a quick eye test. A simple conversation with the amazing retail staff soon led to introductions with the Bailey Nelson Head Designer Ryan Nix via email...and fast forward a month or so Valentin and I were flying to Sydney to meet Ryan and review the first collab samples!
From a creative point of view, a collaboration can be extremely invigorating. What was the design process like working with our Head Designer, Ryan?
Yeah invigorating is actually a great word to describe the process! Our bread and butter are obviously garments, so it was a really enjoyable breath of fresh air to work on eyewear. From the outset, Ryan’s vision was seamlessly aligned with ours so the conceptual discussions were all incredibly streamlined and almost effortless.
Here at Bailey Nelson we like to empower our customers to “Look Different” and to embrace their individuality. What is the intention behind your designs? What do you want your customer to feel when they wear your product?
Exactly that, to embrace their individualism by providing a cohesive eyewear collection of three styles that each had their own unique identity. I think just as equally too was to provide a carefully considered eyewear collection that is crafted from premium materials, and available at an affordable price.
Lastly, what does 2019 have in store for I Love Ugly?
A lot of exciting projects! The most symbolic though would have to be our 10 Year Anniversary, something we’re incredibly proud of. We’re pretty blessed with a global following of fanatic ‘family’ so we feel a strong sense of responsibility to do something amazing for them as a sign of our appreciation. So watch this space...