Zombies, wolves, naked chicks, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. No, it’s not the set of a trippy music video from the 60’s. Welcome to the world of designer Frank Major, founder of Disturbia Clothing.
Established in 2003 by Frank Major, Disturbia is one the UK’s most recognisable clothing lines. With all this sunny weather bringing forth a fresh batch of disturbing imagery mixed with dark, humourous wordplay, it is safe to say that Frank has definitely upped the ante with his new collection. We caught up with him for a little chat about the line, Slash wearing his clothes, and being a guitar nerd…
What inspired you to start up Disturbia Clothing?
“I founded Disturbia in 2003 after cutting my teeth as a designer for a Newcastle based punk/alternative clothing label. I always had the intention of starting a clothing line, and starting with T-shirts seemed the first logical step, so I gathered together a set of designs I’d be working on, and went for it. At the time, I basically could see a very definite niche that wasn’t being filled, which was graphic tee illustration as wearable art, with an underlying narrative. So for the first few years, I basically did as much work as I could to push the brand. I did all the artwork, all the marketing, all the sales, my mum did the accounts, my girlfriend helped out at trade shows, and it grew from there.”
Why the name Disturbia?
“Our original tagline was ‘Proudly Disturbing the Suburbs Since 2003’, so I guess that spells out what Disturbia means. It’s a portmanteau of disturb and suburbia.”
Do you have any formal design training?
“I graduated from a degree in Fashion design in 2001, so that has been a great basis for the company, especially now that we are moving into more custom, cut and sew products.”
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
“I keep a note book full of ideas, quotes, slogans, cuttings and concepts, and each season I pull together the strongest imagery, and try and make everything sit nicely together. Inspiration comes mainly from music, as well as movies, history, books, the weird, the wonderful, and the dark side of the force!“
When you first started out, did you ever imagine the brand would become as successful as it has?
“I always hoped it would. It was forecast in the business plan!! When you’re working for yourself it becomes more than a job, it’s your life! So you find yourself working much more hours, and harder than you would working for The Man, as you have to make it pay off. You have to do your own thing. Keep it different, and always better your last collection. Each season we always want to up the ante, and do something that is new, both in an artistic and design sense. This season for example, we released our first custom cut jackets, shirts, bag and wallet. Next season we’ll build on that. Ad infinitum!”
It must be really rewarding to see musicians rocking your clothing…
“Yes it’s great, and an honour to see musicians wearing our stuff. In fact, it’s just as thrilling to see an everyday guy walking down the street wearing Disturbia.”
What has been the highlight of running Disturbia?
“Too many to mention. Meeting and working with loads of amazingly talented people. Seeing the response and reaction to our products on the faces of our retail and wholesale customers. Travelling around the world for trade shows to promote the brand.”
As well as fashion, what else do you take deep interests in?
“My life-long passion is playing the guitar. Something I’ve done for 22 years! I’m a bit of a guitar nerd at heart!“
“Such a difficult question! My all time favourites include Nirvana, the Beach Boys, Hendrix, the Stones, the Doors, Pearl Jam and QOTSA.”
If you could produce a custom Disturbia tee/vest/hoodie for anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
“Well, it was a childhood dream come true when we found out Slash had been wearing Disturbia, so from a personal perspective it’s hard to better that! Aside from that, I’d love to do a collab with Them Crooked Vultures. I love the band, and their music and lyrics are full of really cool imagery that would be amazing subject matter for some t-shirt designs.”
If you weren’t in the fashion business, what do you think you would be doing?
“Playing the guitar full-time in my band would have been a dream. Either that or I would love the time to paint on a daily basis.”
Any tips for anyone wanting to get into the fashion industry?
“Find your own niche, make your own path, and forge your own weapon!”
To check out the latest Disturbia collection “Dead Empires” head to www.disturbiaclothing.co.uk