SQ Magazine

The UK's Leading Independent Youth Culture Publication

INTERVIEW: Liam Green of HYPE

Posted on Tuesday, 3 December by

Liam Green HYPE

HYPE has become the UK’s most inspiring story of student entrepreneurship. When Aidy Lennox and Liam Green started the fashion brand in 2011, few could have predicted that retail giants including Topman, Footasylum and Asos would join the ride.

Liam Green was only 17-years-old when HYPE was born, preparing to begin university at De Montfort in Leicester, where he’d start to realise his ambitions as a graphic designer. However after an initial investment of £400 between Liam and his partner Aidy resulted in the first wave of HYPE designs selling out within hours, both realised that bigger things were on the horizon.

In 2013, projections are that the brand will generate a mindblowing £8m.”

In just under two years HYPE, now controlled by Liam after Aidy took a backseat in the business, has gone from selling t-shirts in a bedroom to processing 350 orders a day online. Sales in 2012 totalled an impressive £1m but for 2013, projections are that the brand will generate a mindblowing £8m.

Now able to boast a team of 17 staff who work out of the company’s warehouse in Leicester, HYPE is connecting with the youth market unlike anything else in the UK today and those wearing the brand include One Direction, Rudimental and Rizzle Kicks.

We spoke with HYPE’s co-founder, 20-year-old Liam Green, to chart the brand’s meteoric rise from bedroom to boardoom.

Hype Lookbook 1

SQ: First off, tell me why you and Aidy decided to enter fashion.

Liam Green: Fashion was never really something we planned on entering; I’d always had a keen interested in clothes but sort of fell into it from graphic design. I started off doing flyers and branding design for clubs and the music industry before I met a group of lads who were involved in both clothing and printing, After spending some time with them I was lucky enough to meet some mutual friends who were involved in high street stores and unexpectedly, I was designing clothes for big high street names before I knew it!

I then met Aidy when HYPE was fairly young and helped him with the design side of things. We originally started it to earn some extra cash as at that time I was juggling uni and a job and needed more money!

In your eyes, what does the Hype brand represent?

We say ‘HYPE is for everyone’. We’re a brand that in my eyes stands up for everyone…everyone’s cool, in some way or another! I think people buy HYPE because they feel the prints represent their personally and individualism.

What challenges did you face in the early stages of HYPE?

We never really struggled for money when setting up HYPE because we’d won a few competitions for free prints so had a real push into starting out. I’d say the main challenge we faced and still do is that of rapid growth and the level of staffing needed. The rate the company’s growing at requires more work than what we could do alone and staffing was scary.

You started the company in a summer break from university…did you finish your degrees, quit university or are you still studying?

I quit after one year at De Montfort university in Leicester. I was studying graphic design and in all fairness, having seen the rapid growth of HYPE, it’s a decision that I needed to make. It’s all paid off.

In terms of the way you work, how different is your day-to-day life now to what it was two years ago?

Two years ago I was living the student life, studying in the day and partying at night…now things are a hell of a lot more serious! At the age of 20 I have a lot of responsibility, especially now that Aidy has taken a backseat in the business. I’m the go-to-guy for day-to-day decisions. In all honesty it’s eaten into my social life and personal time but I wouldn’t have it any different.

We never really struggled for money when setting up HYPE because we’d won a few competitions for free prints.”

Hype Lookbook 2

Was there ever any type of ‘role model’ for you guys going into the business or were you truly going it alone?

I’d say we truly went it alone. We just sort of happened to find a winning product and within a short amount of time we were running a full-fledged business – I’m not sure we could replicate this again.

You’re one of the few independent brands to ever be stocked in Topshop and Topman – how significant was that deal and how did you make it happen?

Originally we were first stocked in Footasylum, which was our first major stockist. Topman managed to discover us from their men’s buyer, who actually wore our brand and gave the brand buyers the heads up. Believe it or not, all this actually came through Facebook, which demonstrates the power of social media.

You chose to use Brighton for some recent product shots – why here?

We first shot our original summer collection there because we only had a short window to arrange the shoot where the English weather was nice. In fact the day we went snapping turned out to be the hottest day of the year. Brighton represents HYPE well. It’s fun, it has a great cultural mix and people are taken for who they are there, not to mention the beauty of the pier and beaches.

You’ve naturally got an entrepreneurial spirit – do you think we could see you enter another industry down the line?

I wouldn’t like to currently although I’d never say no. I mean I never planned going into fashion but it seems to have worked well!

What is your strategy with HYPE from here on in?

With hype it’s all about setting trends. In past seasons we’ve set the trend in sublimations and print which we’ve become famous for. Although in future seasons were planning on taking things back to basics and setting new trends. Wait and see!

Find your nearest HYPE stockist here, and bookmark the official HYPE store.

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Corey Pellatt
22-year-old editor of SQ Magazine and Media Studies student at the University of Sussex. Freelance writer for clients including BHAFC.


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