Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Grind London Flirts With Contradiction

Grind London
London-born Youssef Metwali has become somewhat of an enigma on the British "streetwear" scene over the last few years. As the co-founder of Grind London, an apparel line that transcends what some people call Tumblr brands, he works hard to immerse himself in that space where art and lifestyle meet.

The store itself was originally founded in 2008. The point of it was to develop a brand with its own roots and culture but continually infuse original concepts into it, year after year. Ask Metwali what it is all about and he might define it as a mix of United Kingdom cynicism and United States brashness. But almost all of it carries a sense of nostalgia too, nods to the past that pick up a grassroots vibe.

Pattern, print, or plain: Grind London stands out. 

The designs themselves are only part of the story. Metwali tends to take pride in every facet of production, personally sourcing every component. The majority of the cotton fabrics that the brand brings together come from Japan and the United States in order to ensure the perfect softness.

Then it extends to other details as well, including every button and every thread. And while the products are often manufactured in Asia, the whole of it is much more global. Grind London isn't interested in simply making graphic designs that can be printed on anything. They are hands on, daily.

Naturally, it didn't start that way in 2008. Like many brands, Grind London had a graphic shirt start. All that helped them stand apart then was that Metwali and his partner were dedicated to adding substance to the subculture. There is hard work behind something that looks effortless and sometimes fearless.

The graphic side of streetwear resonates on every level.  

One of the most successful elements of Metwali's most recent designs is the counterpoint concept. The commentary can be traced back to last year's Karma Drama T-shirts, which didn't give the cosmic connection a free pass. Metwali, who doesn't believe in karma, manages to make people think.

Custom Ts
The same can be said of some of the new designs. Designs like Enlightened and Merry Summer provide a point and counterpoint that fits as much as it contradicts. At the glance, someone might find offense but on the second pass you might find yourself asking something else like why not?

Perhaps a little less controversial and more straightforward is another T called Rulers Of The Wave. As a surfer, it had an immediate appeal not only because it was well designed, but also because of where the art falls and how it looks at a distance. The look is both modern and throwback at the same time. It gives the design roots.

The patterned prints are equally striking. Think Gonzo modernized. 

Grind London, which once put out a line called Hunter S. Thompson, has several patterns that are reminiscent of the era with a modern twist. Although not something I would normally wear, the cotton pinup girl shirt is a classic. Not only is the repeating pattern kept to a minimum, but the shirt also captures attention at a glance but then gives everyone a reason to look a little closer.

Heritage Print
There is nothing generic about it like the patterned shirts that inspired the design. The same can be said for the other print shirts too. The heritage shirt carries an unlikely hunter-farmer pattern. The parrot shirt (a.k.a. tropical pigeons) increases the repeating pattern, giving it a bold effect.

There are other patterns put out by Grind London this year too. While many of them were put out as shirts and shorts, some of them work better as shorts that can be matched to something more straightforward, like a graphic T. The best short, by the way, is the subtle brown tropical. Easily cool.

The Grind London Collection Hits 8.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Although classified as streetwear, Grind London has gone a long way in breaking out from the confines of the clothing genre. While still well known for its graphic Ts, which take Metwali much more time to design, some of the clothing lines' subtle patterns work just as well as shorts and even Oxford shirts.

All of the designs can be found at Grind London direct or you can visit Urban Industry, which offers free shipping in the United Kingdom and reduced shipping prices for international orders. If you are ordering from Urban Industry from the United States, don't forget to convert the currency.
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