We all wear clothes don’t we? At least some of the time anyway. We also love horror. So horror clothes… Big tick.
While walking around Horrorcon in the summer, I came across Last Shirt On The Left for the first time, and was instantly impressed. They had a Toxic Avenger tee shirt… How couldn’t I be?! I’ve worn it death since buying it that day, so I figured it’d be cool to speak to them, find out a bit more, and show you the cool stuff that they do.
( Although it does look a lot like me – this is modelled by somebody else. Slimmer)
Last Shirt On The Left is the brainchild of two beardy dudes, Greg and Phil, who are both I.T. professionals by day (and annoyingly into the night, Greg is keen to add), that have been both mates and horror-fiends for years. It’s their ‘escape’, which is something I know I can relate to.
It didn’t start out as a clothing label, though. The pair started their journey a few years ago when they decided to put together an underground cinema night in their home town of York. It was in a dark, sub-level nightclub, complete with sticky floors and dingy lighting, and brilliantly called their night ‘Dead Meet’. The aim was to share the trashy movies that they love with other people. Launching with Return Of The Living Dead was an awesome way to go about that, especially as they combined the film with themed drinks, zombie brain cakes, and then hosted a themed quiz with a prize. Sounds like a great night out to me!
They fell into the merch side of things when their artist friend Peter Panayis surprised them with a design capturing all of the characters from the films we had showed that year. The design turned intoa tee shirt that they knocked up for their loyal band of motley fans, but ended up being far more popular than they had expected. As such, they decided to start releasing designs based on the upcoming films that they were going to show.
Unfortunately, running a night like that, in a quiet place like York was a difficult proposition for a number of reasons, so Greg and Phil decided to focus their time on the merch side of things.
Greg tells me that some of the designs they come up with themselves, while some have been specially commissioned and created by their small band of dedicated artists and designers aka: their good mates.
All the artists have completely different styles which I think really works for us. We made the conscious decision to give the artists an almost free reign on the designs themselves; giving them the motivation to produce something in a style they are comfortable with. This means we get a whole variety of different styles and results, just how we wanted it.
For example, we have Amy Edwards, a tattoo artist working out of the Dark Horse Collective studio, her work is so colourful and incredibly detailed, she did the Toxic Avenger design for us. Then we have Jon Procter who has a very individual and striking style, lending to less colours, his designs include The Thing and Videodrome.
This is one of the great things that I really like about Last Shirt On The Left, they’re a couple of blokes, doing their thing, with their mates on board.
Self-funding the entire project means that it’s been a slow and steady process for the team, but the response has been great so far. They’re rightfully proud that what started out as printing some tees out for their mates is now a business, shipping orders to all corners of the world. They’ve made friends with supportive people like Headshot Clothing and renown @pure.horror on Instagram, and have been setting up stalls at various different festivals and conventions, spreading their love of horror attire to an ever-increasing fanbase.
Greg tells me:
I’ve been doing metal festival stalls for years. Firstly working for a record label, but in more recent years with one of my long-term hetero life mates Ben, under his ‘Mercian Storm’ banner. With their generosity we’ve been able to sell our t-shirts under their flag for a couple of years, which has really helped with our growth. We’ve been able to sell at metal shows across the UK and Europe. The big ones such as Bloodstock and Download in the UK and then places like Hellfest and Fall of Summer in France, Wacken in Germany and even Obscene Extreme in the Czech Republic!
More recently we’ve been looking to move more into the UK convention territory. We went to the Sheffield Horror Convention in 2015 and loved it so much that we took a shot at asking for stall space at the next event. To our surprise and joy we were accepted and setup our first proper stall in 2016! We absolutely loved the Sheffield Horror Convention and really hope to make it a permanent date in our calendars. We met some truly inspiring and awesome people there, including your good selves! (*Thanks! You’re too kind!) Now we are just trying to see what’s out there and see what we can get ourselves on. I believe the only one we have booked in 2017 so far is the Convention in Birmingham in February next year but we are looking to fill the calendars as much as possible.
When I asked what the most surprising aspect of starting the label up was, Greg said that it’s the overwhelming response and positive feedback. In such a short space of time they’ve build up a growing following, and have been networking around the horror ‘scene’ (I hate that term, but you know what I mean!). Greg is right when he says that ‘the horror community really is the best and most supportive out there’.
Out of curiosty, I asked what their favourite films are…
“There are way, way too many favourites … I’ll watch any old shit, but Phil has more refined tastes. Off the top of our heads”
Evil Dead 2 – I knicked this from my brother’s video collection when I was super young. It was the cheap and cheerful 4Front video release, with the weird golden frame. To this day it reminds me of some of my first steps into the genre and the feeling of pure joy. My brother just recently dug this out and gave it to me – very nostalgic moment.
Zombie Flesh Eaters – I love all the old Italian zombie and cannibal films, this one stands out as one of the first I saw. I’ll always remember seeing the UK Video cover in the local video shop, I was fascinated by the image. The first version I watched was cut to pieces, I remember making it my goal to find the uncut version! A goal that ended up being a bit of an obsession in the years to come, making sure I found the fullest version of films possible. I turned to the Dutch DVD market for a lot of these!
Nightbreed – I always preferred this to Hellraiser. Loads of awesome characters and David Cronenberg as Dr Decker!
Alien & Aliens – They set the scene and the intense anticipation so well, and the jumps keep on coming, even on the 10th viewing!
Event Horizon – There is definitely a bit of a ‘sci-fi’ theme to the films so far, I think it’s a truly unique and enjoyable genre of horror when done well. Event Horizon is a superb film, I totally love the messed up scenes in it.
Evil Dead films (original) – They need little introduction and are all awesome in their own way. Evil Dead 2 is possibly slightly ahead of the pack, but I still really enjoy Army of Darkness as a pick me up. Bruce Campbell is just great.
I’m also a fan of original Japanese / Korean horror (Ju-On, Ringu etc) – a lot of which has been re-made by the mainstream producers in the US but lost the something in the process. The Japanese and Koreans certainly know how to build atmosphere and absolutely terrify the audience without a huge budget.
When talking about the future, they’re both determined and realistic. :
Starting anything from scratch with no real budget was always going to create issues and it has been frustrating that we can’t always bring the great ideas we have into production when we want to. We would love to expand faster but we just don’t have the budget right now. Things are slow to get done but we are determined to keep pushing forward the best we can.
We want to keep growing both in the UK and across the world (Eventual world domination would be nice, obviously) and introduce new and exciting products. How we do this, and how far we manage to go only time will tell! One thing we would really like to do is start to introduce more designs that tie into more underground tastes, introducing more obscure titles as we go. However, we are still very much trying to find and build our audience and so we can’t go too far just yet.
I’m looking forward to seeing what’s to come from the guys. I’ve been wearing my Toxie tee to death, have stopped writing this a number of times to have a little flick through their site at which other designs I want. You should do the same – so make sure you check out their website. Follow them on Instagram as well to keep up to date with what they’re up to and previews of future designs and all that good stuff. They’re good lads, and they make ace tee shirts, so they’re a worthy brand to get behind.
*clicks add to basket*
Last Shirt On the Left have kindly put on a special discount for Slimehouse readers! At checkout click ‘Discount’ and enter the code SLIMEHOUSETV for a 10% discount, that’s active until the end of 2016!
Words – @bentlegs