Before saying goodbye to 2015, we spoke to the creative directors behind urban brand BLOQ Apparel, who captured and harnessed their creativity to create a uniquely Irish and innovative fashion label.
Launched in late 2014, BLOQ Apparel is a metropolitan clothing brand designed and produced locally by Dublin natives Simon Bastable and Brendan Ennis. The inventive duo left their financially stable careers in retail and finance, to fulfil their desire for design. One year on, and three collections later, we find out whether their risk was worth taking.
For many, obsession with creativity and design begins at a young age and is later ignited by a growing devotion to produce beautiful designs; whether that’s in the form of technology, cuisine, advertising, or fashion. The finished product behind the design may be different, but the semantics and passion required remains the same.
After conforming to the social norms of going to college, obtaining a degree and getting a nine-to-five job, both Simon and Brendan, who are life-long friends from Dun Laoghaire, repeatedly found themselves becoming bored in their mundane day jobs.
“I was doing it because that’s what I was told you were meant to do. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with all forms of art and design. Looking back, I should’ve definitely gone down that road,” said Simon.
Simon has a background in online marketing and digital strategy and has experience in luxury retail, while Brendan studied business and entrepreneurship where he acquired a solid skill set that prepared him for starting out in business.
“We both offer a completely different dynamic which is why we work so well together,” added Simon.
Both the brand concept and name are unique to the Irish market, as he explains:
“We want our clothing to be everyday wear, but to also have the versatility and adaptability to be that ‘special piece’ in your wardrobe.
“The name is derived from the term ‘Bloc’ which translates as ‘a combination of groups who share a common interest, and who have formed an alliance. A community’. We dropped the ‘C’ and replaced it with our trademarked ‘Q’ to give us individuality, but still in keeping with the original pronunciation.
“At the core, BLOQ is a community of people who are passionate about, and share, a common interest,” he added.
Simon and Brendan have successfully built a solid customer base within the last twelve months, and are enjoying continued success with their third capsule collection, as Brendan illustrates:
“The overall feel for Collection 03 is that we are embracing designs and fits that are resounding of late 90’s and early 00’s street and athletic wear. This is broken into three subsections – t-shirts, sweats and headwear.
“We have five t-shirts that fall under our ‘Classics’ that we are carrying on from the previous two collections. In addition to these, we’ve added on two more freshly designed t-shirts, a long sleeve-sweater, a hoody, and a crewneck.
“We work with a manufacturer on designs from the beginning. This is a lengthy process, but it’s done so that we can provide the exact cut, fit and fabric that we feel our customers will really appreciate and love,” he added.
Although the Irish fashion community has welcomed BLOQ, the directors believe that more needs to be done to ensure the longevity of independent Irish labels.
“There’s a reason why we’re so far behind the likes of London and Paris, but in my opinion, there just isn’t the support systems in place for independent producers. We felt that we were on our own at the beginning. However, even though it is extremely difficult, it’s great to see more young designers and brands making a go of it here,” Brendan added.
What do the directors hope to achieve in 2016? Simon and Brendan will soon be launching two new concepts to the brand – BLOQ Sound System and BLOQ Natives – with the aim of further enhancing the lifestyle aspect of the brand. They are also actively looking to take BLOQ to an international market.
“We launched in winter of 2014, and have seen a massive rise in such a short space of time. This has given us the impetus to keep pushing boundaries and see how far we can go. Exciting is an understatement,” Simon concluded.