Streetwear Jobs CEO, Luke Taylor, has put his hands to just about every spectrum of the streetwear industry over the last 10 years. An entrepreneur, a collector, a mentor, a writer, a DJ and a sneaker enthusiast, the 32 year old isn’t scared to get his hands dirty when it comes to the nitty gritty stuff. From starting his own independent store to bringing new European and Asian streetwear brands to the UK market to running interviews with Vice and launching his own globally recognised streetwear and sneaker magazine, Luke’s next chapter takes a turn to the recruitment kind.
So first of all talk us through your background and what you have done in the streetwear industry so far?
My first real encounter into the industry would be from a resale perspective, this is going back to the early noughties before we had the likes of StockX and Klekt. I use to sell clothes and trainers I no longer wanted. My passion for clothes, mainly sportswear and trainers, started back in the 90s sportswear craze, the colourways were pretty crazy back then! Lime green and orange full adidas tracksuits teamed up with Air Max and Reebok Classics. I was also involved with the skateboarding scene, yes I will admit that was courtesy of Tony Hawks (1999) on the original Playstation console, closely followed by the graffiti scene. What I still love about the early noughties era, and still do to this day, was how sportswear merged with designer brands. People like Mike Skinner from The Streets really set the tone for the era and I remember buying the first Audio Bullys album in Heathrow airport in 2003. It was mainly the cover that drew me in as it pretty much summed me up at the time. Graffiti tags, bright white Reebok Workouts, Berghaus or The North Face coats and dark denim jeans. It was this look and style for me personally that I still love to this day. The transition between casual and urban fashion, streetwear meets designer etc etc.
After several years of working dead end jobs and selling whatever I could get my hands on via ebay from factory seconds to dead stock to my own clothing collection, I decided to set up my first business around 10 years ago. Obviously I got the usual ‘negative’ remarks from the comfort zone warriors but I say leave them to it. If you choose to be bitter and negative to people trying new things and moving forward with their lives it only really looks bad on you. I love meeting new people with new ideas who give it their 120% even when it fails. If it fails at least you tried it which is more than can be said for a lot of people, who to put it bluntly, simply don’t have the balls to do it. We’re a breed apart us entrepreneurs, it’s a mindset and I do think personally that you are born with it. I always somehow felt that I was made for more and that I was never going to settle for a 9-5 job.
Growing up in a broken home also meant I had to grow up pretty quickly and making money to buy the clothes and trainers I wanted meant hustling in anyway you could. I think I realised I was an entrepreneur at about the age of 15 or 16, although I started selling bikes and parts in the local papers at the age of 12. You see some of the Hypebeast kids nowadays with rich parents buying them the latest Supreme or Yeezy but for me personally growing up you simply had to graft for it. This work ethic and mindset remains very strong with me to this day. If you want something you have to go out and get it for yourself.
After running my own store for a few years it was clear that the market wasn’t great. Other independents were closing down here, there and everywhere so I decided to set up my own streetwear and sneaker magazine called Real Clobber. Over the last 5 years RC really grew from strength to strength. We have worked with some of the finest streetwear brands and retailers such as adidas, Slam Jam, Nike, Carhartt WIP, The North Face and Stone Island to name a few from exclusives to editorials. At its peak the magazine boasted a readership all over the world including mainly the USA, Australia, UK, Germany, France and Japan.
I have also introduced numerous streetwear brands such as Paradise Youth Club and Rave Skateboards to the UK market as well as mentoring start ups and entrepreneurs where I can. A few years back I also helped Grime artist and Red Bull Grime A Side 2016 winner, Dubzy, put his headwear brand, Snazz, in front of the main European buyers for Footlocker.
Where did the idea for Streetwear Jobs come from?
The idea was simple, no one else was doing it and we needed a recruitment platform specifically tailored for the streetwear industry that didn’t charge £800 to post one job. Since launching Streetwear Jobs we have gone from strength to strength with potential investment on the horizon, an ever growing database of jobs and the launch of our very own app, who knows where we will be next year!
“The importance of a good team around you is also crucial. Surround yourself with positive people and ditch anyone that is negative to you or your vision.”
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I’m not going to lie, the last 10 years has been hard in terms of making things work, the market and the every day hurdles that you encounter in business. However when you get that moment of magic when you realise something has worked, it’s absolutely priceless, almost spiritual and euphoric. The feeling of creating something with your own bare hands and making it a global name, words cannot really describe it. The importance of a good team around you is also crucial. Surround yourself with positive people and ditch anyone that is negative to you or your vision. That is the true reality of success. Become the best person you can be mentally and physically. Learn how to switch off. If things are becoming too on top take some time out. If you don’t have the money for a holiday then pretend you’re on one! Listen to motivational speakers and remember the legendary words from Rocky Balboa (2006); “It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward”.
Don’t ever think you are entitled to anything, nothing is free, nothing just appears on a silver spoon, you have to work hard, make sacrifices and really get your head down to reach your goals. Like many entrepreneurs I have a fighters mentality, something I learned from a young age as well as all the Ju Jitsu and Muay Thai training. It’s this what separates the men from the boys and determines how much you are really willing to sacrifice, how much you are willing to loose and how much you are willing to give. It needs to be 120% or forget it. You need to have a mind of metal, be able to easily brush of criticism and truly believe in yourself and capabilities because at the end of the day who else is going to? Once you have these traits anything is possible.
What do you think are the main things that have changed in the streetwear industry over the last 5 years?
A lot! Mainly how the drops work. Supreme still seem to be smashing their concept of weekly/monthly drops. It also seems now the retailers with the hype sneaker drops and raffles etc are the ones at the top of the game. These guys are selling out of product before they even have it in stock! Obviously resale is now becoming just as big as retail, big shout out to Josh Luber what an inspiration he is to the whole industry. Finally, how we are connecting with brands is more instagram focused and yes I do think influencers still have a massive impact on sales for a retailer/brand. From a recruitment perspective we are seeing more people wanting to break into the streetwear industry as more and more people are becoming involved in the scene. If you love streetwear and sneakers who doesn’t want to do that for a living?
What have you enjoyed working on the most?
I like creating new ideas and seeing how far I can take them. Even though I have had some failures, my first store wasn’t exactly a success story, although I managed to make it work for the time I did and I gave it 120% everyday. I wasn’t scared to switch things up, to think outside of the box and try new things. Success is built on failures. Success isn’t about money it’s about evolving as a person, it’s about moving forward and facing your fears head on. I have enjoyed them little pinch yourself moments when you step back and think, “I did that”. It’s a truly amazing feeling and definitely worth all the stress and the hurdles.
What do you do to relax and unwind?
I like to watch my team Manchester United, although that has created more stress recently! I also train quite a lot which I find brings your body back with your mind, as running a business can be very ‘above the shoulders’ stuff. I’m also a big sneaker and streetwear fan (no surprises there) so I like to keep an eye on what’s going on in the scene, drops etc and any events I can get to. I also DJ and head up my own music project, but apart from that just try and relax and explore new places whenever I can.