11 May 2BOP | Interview with a clothing brand
We’ve asked the guys behind the awesome shirts and sweats label, 2BOP, a couple of questions. Check out some of their clothes on their site, and look out for their clothes in some of the more trendy shops around town.
2BOP started in 2004 as a way to turn a passion for classic video games into a form of expression.
2BOP draws inspiration primarily from games that were popular in South Africa at corner shops and arcades in the1980’s and early 1990’s when gameplay was key and graphics if they were good were an added bonus. Disadvantaged areas during apartheid South Africa had little to offer in terms of exposure to cutting edge international design or computer technology but the bootleg arcade games that used twenty cent pieces (a 2Bop) to play at the corner shop were a window into what was happening in the outside world. These games granted access to excellent electronic entertainment and exposed the 2Bop crew to intuitive and engaging interface design, game design, graphic and sound design primarily from Japan and North America. And so began a long fascination with the medium that shows no signs of stopping.
Tell us a bit about the design philosophy behind 2Bop? We can see the obvious old skool gamer references, but what are you, where are you from and what started 2Bop?
We grew up in the hood in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth so we bring those influences. I spent or (mispent) a part of my childhood wondering around my grandparents road, Highfield Road in PE, which had a row of Cafe’s and shops owned mostly by Chinese families, in search of cool video games. I’d walk for kilometers down this road in search of games I hadn’t seen before. It was like a hunt. I was quite young and I’d be too intimidated to play some of the games so i’d be happy to just watch and not get the back of my head slapped by one of the older laanies. Watching was also cheaper. At the time there wasn’t really any way of seeing cutting edge international design or graphics or electronic music in South Africa so these bootleg arcade games at the corner shops were a window into this world. This and a cool uncle who was (and still is into games) started a passion for games that is still strong.
2Bop started from an idea I had about fashion that I’d dress the way I’d like to see other people dress. If nobody was dressing that way then I’d be the person dressing that way, be that character that you want to meet. Not sure if that makes sense but that carried over to 2Bop. We put stuff out that we’d like to see people wearing.
What do you guys do during the day, and does that in any way inspire you in the design process?
We skiet games all day as “inspiration”. We draw inspiration from all over the place. Could be just walking through the neighbourhood, music, riding a bicycle, stuff we see in the media. The electric internet.
You guys have built a mini game controller prototype, is that shit for real? It looks awesome! How does it work? And why?
Ha ha yes its for real. Its basically a modified xbox controller thats modified to work with arcade game joysticks and buttons. The short answer to why is Street Fighter IV (the best game of all time). You can’t play arcade style games (particularly street fighter) well with a console controller. The game has 6 buttons which you need to be able to access easily and also on arcade controls you use your hand and all your fingers as opposed to your thumbs which obviously gives you much finer control. Also to live the dream of playing arcade style at home.
How have you found the retail market in South Africa? The 2Bop brand seems to be pretty well distributed, was that all hard work or did you pull a couple of strings here and there?
At the moment we’re focused primarily in Cape Town and are starting to make moves in Johannesburg. The market can be good if you find outlets that appreciate and understand what you do. I don’t think its hard work getting your stuff out if the product fits in with what shops want to sell.
It seems to be notoriously difficult to find some well produced, quality local designs, yet at the same time there seems to be quite a lot of competition. Do you find this as well? What do you think of the local design industry?
When it comes to competition there are so many international labels represented here you have to compete with global brands. I don’t think people care that much about whether something is designed locally, think they care more about interesting good products. South African design in most media is strong and can compete internationally. I don’t know too much about the industry but from what I can see it could use a huge dose of more diversity.
It’s quite easy to draw parallels between 2Bop and AmaKipKip, purely because of the strong local roots and the shared canvas (t-shirts and sweats, etc), what do you make of them?
I don’t know too much about them and havn’t met the crew but I liked their original logo tees the first time I saw them.
Owning a t-shirt company is on every kids dream jobs list. Is it a worthwhile proposition and would you suggest people try their hand at it? Any tips and recommendations?
I’d suggest people do it. I’d like to see more local labels popping up. Tips I’d say listen to advice from people that have more experience than you and always work on projects you’re passionate about. Speak to shop owners. Don’t assume you know what it is they want. A good sense of humour like most aspects of life, comes in handy too.
What’s next for 2Bop?
We’ve gotten good feedback from people around the world so so we’re working on some potential international outlets. We plan on selling a few custom joysticks as a side project as well. We’re going to have a Street Fighter IV tournament to launch our Winter range so come play on the joysticks and practice your fireballs. HA DO KEN!!