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A Closer Look At Joystick Junkies: Tee Shirts Merging Two Worlds

by Erin Darling 23 May 2011 1,247 views No Comment E-mail Erin Darling

Joystick Junkies is a London based fashion label that has created a fusion of digital pop culture and streetwear. Led by Creative Director Chris Birch, there’s more behind the striking designs than what first meets the eye. THEPOPFIX.com’s Erin Darling had the chance to talk gaming, graphics and cultural inspiration with Chris Birch. We found that there’s a lot to love about this exciting and rapidly expanding clothing line.

More below!

Image via Joystick Junkies

Image via Joystick Junkies

Q: What was the initial inspiration behind Joystick Junkies?

A: Well, I started life playing an Atari 2600 as a kid and was obsessed with every new arcade machine that hit the local arcades. I loved the pixelated neon characters, the beautiful art on the side of the arcade machines. Fast forward to the 90′s and I was working on a series of massive electronic music festivals in the UK called Tribal Gathering. In 1996 Playstation arrived on the scene and sponsored a couple of the festivals. The clash of cool club culture and video games got me thinking about gaming in a big way.

It wasn’t until shortly after Tribal Gathering I started a PR agency in 1998 working with video games companies that things took shape. We were helping games companies do cool launch parties, promotional merchandise, etc and I was wondering why no one had done any clothing linked to games, so it wasn’t long before that idea drove me to start Joystick Junkies.

However, I was originally inspired by the presence of Playstation amongst the festival goers, the same people who were dancing in tents with 10,000 other people in front of Underworld, Leftfield, Carl Cox or Sasha we’re hanging out playing Playstation, it was the same crowd, the same crowd I knew were spending a fortune on our festival merchandise with the cool Tribal Gathering art and were also wearing cool graphics inspired by many other world famous brands. So when I was producing merchandise for games companies it made me realize that if I could create a line of clothing based on those classic video game icons with a club culture twist then we might be on to a winner.

Image via Joystick Junkies

Image via Joystick Junkies

Q: What are some of the new projects/collaborations you’re working on?

A: Joystick Junkies just launched a line of tees in Foot Locker Europe based on all the latest games, so far we’ve had designs based on Dragon Age 2, Fight Night Champion, Red Faction Armageddon, Homefront, Alice Madness Returns and Dead Rising 2 go in to 216 stores.

We have been working with Deadmau5 on a line of tees which touch on his love for 8-bit characters and the line has been really successful in the US and Europe.

Q: That’s so exciting, I love Deadmau5. Every season you create has a very unique feel and theme, what’s up next?

A: That’s right, you can’t just stick another bunch of tees out there. We work on a theme which will affect the way we do all the photoshoots, fashion shows, flyer designs and of course the t-shirt designs for that season. The next one is going to be great fun, it touches on classic B-Movie imagery and is called Junkie Attack! We’re going to be shooting the model’s in B-Movie style situations and the range is our twist on the genre so expect some crazy designs.

Q: Can’t wait! It sounds like you’ve thrown some pretty epic parties…what’s your best soiree story you can share with us?

A: There was this one party we threw for the opening night of a massive televised gaming festival in London called Game Stars Live for 20,000 people. All the games companies, models and press were invited. It was based on the spoof Casino Royale movie with Woody Allen so we had crazy go-go girls in 60′s dresses, a Frank Sinatra (who was so like Frank!), casino and Joystick Junkies dollar bills for endless free drinks to keep the 700 guests happy and London’s hottest DJ’s at the time to keep them going till the early morning finish.

The best bit had to be the secret agent Marta Hari entrance, if you had the code word she’d give you some free champagne on entrance. Of course some more than willing guys were desperate for the VIP treatment and on entry were told by the stunning Marta Hari in the blacked out room to perform an ‘amusing’ tricks for her in return for the free champagne. Little did they realize they were on screens throughout the venue and were welcomed with a roar of applause!

Image via Joystick Junkies

Image via Joystick Junkies

Q: Risque, I love it! So, have celebrities been spotted wearing Joystick Junkies and what celebrities would you love to see your brand on?

A: Recently Eliza Doolittle was spotted in our Anarchy tee in Hollywood, rocking it as a t-shirt dress with trainers, Tommy Lee has been wearing our Pirate Skull tee on tour with Motley Crue and Deadmau5, Bronson Pelletier one of the wolves in Twilight was wearing our Team Junkie t-shirt in between takes, whilst Agyness Deyn, Gary Dourdan from CSI and Deadmau5 have been rocking our 8-bit pendants.

I’d love to see a wider range of people from TV and film to musicians and DJ’s. It’s hard to say who should be wearing it when we all have such different tastes but personally I’d love to see Johnny Depp in JJ or our queen of style, Kate Moss working it!

Q: What’s you’re all time favorite game?

A: It has to be Halo 2. Not only an amazing graphical shooter on the Xbox 360 but the first truly easy to play online experience. I’ve yet to see a game that moves the scene on as much as that genre defining title.

Q: So now that we know more about you and Joystick Junkies, where can we find your line?

A: Obviously online at www.joystickjunkies.com (just choose which store US or Europe you want) but also a growing list of retailers like Foot Locker in Europe, River Island and Asos.com in the UK, www.Frontlineshop.com in Europe. We’ve just launched for retail in the US and will be announcing a number of retailers who signed up once they get stock in.

Q: Thanks so much, Chris! THEPOPFIX.com loves Joystick Junkies!

Image via Joystick Junkies

Image via Joystick Junkies

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