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3 Feb

Interview: One on One With Anthony Smith (2bop)

With deep roots in the 90s video game culture, 2Bop has been at the forefront of creative clothing designs for years. Whether at STR CRD or overseas at Bread and Butter, the brand has continued to grow and expand its base of supporters. We sat down with founder Anthony Smith to find out a little more about past, present and future of 2Bop as well his insights on the golden age of video games.
Outside of Cape Town most people only found out about 2Bop in the last couple years. Can you tell us about the origins of the brand and the early days?
2Bop started in 2004. The main initial inspiration behind the brand was golden era arcade games from the late 80’s and early 90’s. I grew up skateboarding and being involved in that subculture which has a DIY ethos made me want to start my own brand. Most skate companies were started by skaters and there was always this feeling of connecting to the people behind these co’s , realising that they were  just passionate people doing what they love and that starting something is possible. It started just printing 20 t-shirts, selling them to my friends and my local skate store and growing it from there
A lot of the themes of the designs are entrenched in the 90s and in particular the video game culture of the era. Are you an old school game head? 
I’m an old game kop. I was obsessed with arcade games that you found  at the corner shops. I’d walk for kilometers through various neighbourhoods looking for games I havn’t seen before. It was so inspiring as a kid. Making friends and rivals at different corner stores. When i was really little i was happy just to watch the older kids who were good at the games doing their thing.
In your opinion, what was the best gaming system and why?
I had a super nintendo back in the day which was really hard to get in SA. It had a near arcade perfect port of Street Fighter II which was literally my childhood fantasy coming true.  
Best video character of all time? 
Thats a tie between ryu and mario. Ryu because his stoic attitude of wanting to better himself has translated consistently from the first version of the game all the way through and he’s so iconic. Mario because he was able to have so much character going back to the 8 bit nes and its graphics limitations, you still had a sense of his personality and its something thats translated well  throuh to his modern iterations
You’re brand has been featured overseas and you’ve had the opportunity to go to Bread and Butter in Germany. How was that experience and what was the response to 2Bop?
The response was tremendous, firstly people were surprised to find a label from South Africa producing and designing locally, it showed how unaware the rest of the world is about design talent here. As a small brand it was quite overwhelming, realising how much work we had to do and what we need to put in place to push international sales. Its something we’re currently working on.
Recently you’ve opened up a store in Woodstock with some other partners. Having access to a retail space is quite a major move. What was the driving force behind this and do you feel its been successful? 
The Main reason was to have our own outlet to present our brand the way we wanted to as well as to bring in product that inspired us and showcase international brands alongside local brands. Smith and Abrahams has been successful and is developing into its own brand , curating unique product and carving out a niche.
In terms of marketing, your approach is very different to the standard push of traditional advertising, brand ambassadorships, and events. How do you feel this has benefited the brand? 
I think people can see that we have relationships with people we flow product to and that have mutual respect, its not a pure marketing ploy.
What advise do you give to young designers with hopes of starting their own clothing brand?
Begin with a concept that will keep you inspired for the rest of your life. create something differnt and dont follow trends to heavily, find your own voice and use your unique circuimstances to permeate your work.
What are your plans for 2015? 
We’re planning on increasing our in house manufacturing capacity, growing internaional sales. We’ve also set up a division that manufacturers for other clients looking for bespoke designs, we’ve been working with a few local artists and co’s who looking for more than just doing cheap made in china merchandise.
For More Info
twitter: @2bop
instagram: @2bop
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