5 Minutes With: Emmet Keane of Creation
Set to make its debut next season, Creation is the latest project from UK streetwear veterans, Emmet Keane and Paul Sid. Both firmly entrenched in the cultural landscape, Emmet is the co-founder of renowned clothing label Answer (along with Mo’Wax/Honest Jon’s label designer Will Bankhead), and Paul is the creator of UK-based label, Retreat. A shared appreciation of art and music led them to come together in late 2013 and start plotting Creation — a brand that has culture, non-conformist thinking and a hankering for arresting graphics at its heart. Here we find out more about the brand, the thinking behind it, and its place in the UK streetwear landscape from Emmet himself, alongside a short history of prolific projects he’s been previously involved with. Stay tuned for more from Creation in the near future.
SlamXHype: Hey Emmet, can you give us a brief history in your involvement with Park Walk and later, Answer?
Emmet Keane: I used to help Will Bankhead distribute Park Walk in the UK. After a while we decided to set up a UK branch of PW, initially using three iconic Vaughn Bode images: Cheech Wizard, Lizard and Cobalt 60. When Will decided to shut down the Park Walk operation in Japan, we set up Answer.
SXH: Can you tell us more with your involvement / friendship with James Lavelle?
Keane: I met James Lavelle at a club when we were both DJing on the same night. We talked about music, comics and toys for hours. At the time I was working for a toy/comic distributor and began to source rare stuff for James, and then Futura 2000 and Nigo. Through James I met the whole Mo’Wax crew and became good friends with them all.
How did the collaboration with A Bathing Ape come about?
When we did the first “Bode” shirts under the Park Walk label, my friend Toby Feltwell (BAPE/BBC/Cavempt) was on the shoot of Pharrell’s video for “Frontin'” wearing one of them. People went crazy about them and Nigo requested a set. Quite soon afterwards we discussed the possibilities of doing a series of Bode shirts together and worked out the imagery. We did 10 images I think, with a run of 300 per design. These were the first time we used the Answer name and it really helped the launch of the brand.
In your eyes what separated Answer from all the other brands that were around at the time?
Well … commercial sales and making profits were very low on Answer’s agenda. We released designs that appealed to us rather than looking at what type of designs were in vogue. We basically made the kind of t-shirts that we wanted to wear ourselves.
All our shirts were hand printed, using large prints on the shirts whereas everyone else were using small prints at the time. To be honest, lots of labels were just copying each other. We never considered ourselves to be part of any kind of streetwear scene. Everything we did was on a limited-edition basis and we were very careful about which shops we sold to.
Once Answer came to an end did you continue a career in ‘streetwear’?
For a very short time, I helped distribute Reigning Champ and Wings & Horns in Europe for a bit. I just got totally sick of the industry. I took a couple of years out to look after my daughter, and began to study part-time for a degree in history, which was something I had wanted to do for years but never had the time. I have zero interest in the streetwear scene, and have absolutely no idea what is going on in that world.
Can you explain how Creation came about?
I was approached out of the blue late last year to do a collaboration with a label. I wasn’t keen to enter that world again, but said I would source some graphics that they could use. Once I started digging for imagery I soon had masses and masses of incredible stuff. Anyway in the end none of the images were used as they weren’t really suitable for the label. I’ve known Paul Sid who runs the label RETREAT for years and I fired him over some of the images to see if he wanted to use any. Paul really liked them, but again, felt that they wouldn’t fit with what he was doing. Anyway, I really believed that the graphics would make amazing t-shirts, and suggested he set up a sub-label of RETREAT to use them. We talked back and forth for a while, and through our conversations, the idea of doing t-shirts again began to grow on me, especially with Sid as a business partner.
What can we expect from your new label?
Quality t-shirts with amazing graphics! That’s it in a nut shell.
Will there be any comparison between Answer and Creation?
I don’t really know. I guess it’s inevitable that some people will make a comparison. Sid and I share the same ethos on what we want Creation to be — more or less the same as what Answer was: limited-edition hand-printed shirts, the kind that we would want to wear ourselves without being commercially motivated. I still am obviously graphically influenced by many of the same things as I was then, but Creation is a whole new thing.
Which artists (old and new) would you be keen to work with?
Jack Kirby, Robert Crumb, Jim Woodring, Joe Strummer, Gee Vaucher, Winston Smith, Albrecht Durer, Pieter Bruegel, Hans Holbein, Hans Memling, Odilon Redon, Pennie Smith … to name just a few.
RELATED: 5 MINUTES WITH: TREIS HILL OF ALIFE