Words by Karan Teli
Quick story: On Black Friday 2017, I decided to go into Urban Outfitters. I found myself picking up a Jay-Z ‘Reasonable Doubt’ album cover inspired T-Shirt. When I was ready to pay, the person serving me was a wearing a Notorious B.I.G, Diddy and Faith Evans inspired Bad Boy Records jumper; one that I had never seen anything like before. I asked him if they sold that, because I was ready to get it there and then. He told me that the jumper was designed by his friend and asked if I wanted the name. Unbeknown to him; this is how I was introduced to Marino Morwood.
I Instagram searched the name when I got home to find his page. This was more than a brand. I could see someone who had a passion for music and fashion; and found the perfect way to merge the two together. I saw the Bad Boy Records jumper, I saw a J-Lo T-Shirt and I saw a 2Pac T-Shirt which I was sure I had previously seen on Playboi Carti.
Now here we are; talking about everything from inspiration to future plans to favourite rappers – An Interview with Marino Morwood.
14HQ: How did you come up with the initial idea and concept of the brand? Did it purely stem from a love of Hip-Hop and R&B, mixed with a love for fashion, or was it more than that?
MM: It started in Spring 2016. I was looking to buy a Gucci Mane T-Shirt online for the summer, but every single one I came across had the same tacky aesthetic. I’ve been into 90’s Rap tee designs for a while now, but not many people these days design with the look in mind. I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I decided to see what I could come up with in Photoshop and what you see on Quavo is the final outcome. Originally, I just wanted to make a few for me and a couple of my friends, but the manufacturer I used had a minimum order of 25. I went ahead, had them printed, took 1 for myself, and gave a few to my friends for the cost of production. Then I ended up with 15-20 t-shirts to figure out what to do with next. I posted a picture of the tee on Instagram & received a good response. From there, I made a website and posted them for sale for 72 hours only. Sold the majority of them then gave the last few away. Then I was straight back in Photoshop putting together my next idea.
Why did you choose to name the brand after yourself and not come up with a specific brand name?
That’s because since day 1, it’s been me creating designs I wanted to wear for myself, then releasing it out into the world. It still is that. It’s me doing me, creating what I want to create. I can do what I want if I am the brand. I don’t have to create a brand identity & story to try to make it resonate with the people or anything.
Do you come up with the designs and create them all yourself, or do you have a team of people behind you?
It’s just Me, my MacBook and Photoshop.
Of all the great clothes you’ve designed, from the first ever Gucci Mane T-Shirt, to the Bad Boy Records sweatshirt, do you have a favourite piece that you’ve created?
I actually made my favourite design yesterday. It’s some crazy front & back Travis Scott design, but that won’t be coming out until around April. From what’s already been released, I’d say the Bad Boy Records sweatshirt or the J-Lo tee. I spent months going back & forth with my manufacturer perfecting the Bad Boy design, so I’m proud of that one. The J-Lo tee embodies the sound of early 2000s R&B in its entirety & is straight up summertime in a T-shirt.
How do you decide which artist you are going to honour with a design?
It’s normally whoever I’m listening to at the time. I’ll be sat in my room, hear a certain song & be like “Fuck, why haven’t I already made a design for _____”. Then I’ll put their albums on loop for hours & just sit on Photoshop figuring out how I want to embody the artist’s vibe & sound into a visual design. ‘What does this person represent to me? How do they or their music make me feel & how can I transcend that to ink on fabric?’ From the colour palettes to the fonts, to the composition, to the lyrics I choose to use.
Music T-shirts are very popular among the market, from stores like Urban Outfitters all the way to Selfridges. How do you see Marino Morwood different from the rest of the market?
I’m not trying to make quick cash. I’m trying to make clothes people cherish and still wear in 20 years when the fabric has holes & the collars hanging off. I feel you can tell with a vast majority of what you see in the streets that the designs have just been thrown together without any thought of the actual artist. My designs embrace the artist’s identity & try to showcase them as people/artists to the best of my ability. I want everything in my design to go back to that artist. It’s all tied together. Not just random shit that looks cool.
Hip-Hop is clearly an influential part of your life; who are your favourite, go-to, artists in the genre, from both the current generation but also from the previous generation that you grew up with?
I always remember when I was in primary school my mum would pick me up in a purple BMW with blacked out windows playing G-Unit ‘Poppin Them Thangs’ or some 2Pac record, so it’s always been around me growing up as a kid. My go-to artists from the 90s/early 00s would have to be 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Nas, Ja Rule & 2Pac. Go-to artists from this generation today are Chief Keef, Youngboy NBA, Kodak Black & Young Thug.
Now, the video of Quavo and Travis Scott in the club dancing to Bad and Boujee is a pretty famous and viral video. How does it feel to see Quavo, who is definitely one of the world’s biggest musicians right now, wearing something you personally designed?
Shit was crazy as fuck. Especially as that video was cool as hell anyway (with or without the tee) & it features another one of the biggest artists in the world. Whenever anybody famous wears my stuff everybody’s always tagging me in the comments or DMing me the post. So the day that video dropped online my DMs were filled with my friends excited for me, sharing the post my way saying ‘How the fuck has Quavo got your t-shirt?’. I knew he had the tee because my friend Bryan personally gave it to him. They’re friends, but still to see he actually chose to wear it when he has his pick of all the Gucci & Versace in the world is a cool feeling.
Another one of 2017’s Hip-Hop style icons, Playboi Carti, was seen wearing your 2Pac T-Shirt. How does it feel knowing your brand is completely out there and respected by Hip-Hop musicians, that I’m guessing you personally listen to?
It’s pretty crazy because I listen to these guys every day. I really do fuck with their artistic vision, so to know they fuck with my vision in a different medium is a good feeling.
What’s the long term goal for you and the brand? Is it to appear in stores like Selfridges or do you want to remain independent? Maybe expand and begin collaborations?
To keep progressing & moving forward. I can’t be stuck in a cycle of making the same stuff. Right now, I’m working on getting the rap tees to the next level for 2018; cut & sew, bigger prints & I’m taking more direct control over the printing process. In the future I’ll definitely be releasing some clothing people wouldn’t expect from me, but it’s all a work in progress at the moment. So really, the long term goal is just to reach a level where I have full creative freedom & the resources to support every idea I want to make a reality.