"Picking religion was sort of a no brainer."

Founded in 2012, Heresy is the menswear project initially devised by Dominic Owen and Jasper Dunk as a means to continue collaborating, despite being cities apart.

As they tell it, “We got really into screen printing while we were studying illustration, so to start with it was just about us printing onto T-shirts as an excuse to explore the process. It got a really positive response, and over the last year or so we became a bit more ambitious with where we want to take it.”

Hence back in November they upped their game with a new website, since producing two slick look books and taking their show on the road, with a recent pop-up courtesy of Peckham Print Studio at graphic arts festival Pick Me Up London.

“We wanted Heresy to have a central theme that ran through the whole thing,” note the boys of their moniker. “Picking religion was sort of a no brainer. Religion and mysticism provides us with an endless pool of stuff to take inspiration from and lets us engage with all this brilliant iconography.”

“Music is super important to us too,” they continue (a healthy ‘noise’ section exists elsewhere on said site), “all the best music – heavy metal, blues, folk, etc – deals with the occult and spirituality in some way. We still think all that stuff is crazy, but some of the best art has come out of love or fear for the guy up above.”

While AW14’s ‘Forming’ collection tapped into their south London surroundings (of which, more several paragraphs down), new collection ‘Cunning Folk’ takes its cue directly from this idea of spirituality, with ties to English folklore visible across the SS15 offering.

Not a new reference in the menswear arena: Christopher Shannon embraced it for SS13 while Liam Hodges championed it when he collaborated with James Pearson-Howes at Ditto Press last summer. English folklore by way of Heresy however, is a subtle affair, marrying the label’s casual jerseys with pared back prints inspired by the subject; a black tabard style further immerses the theme.

“It’s something we’ve always been really interested in, and it meant that we can keep exploring religion and mysticism,” they say. “Having a concept behind our designs is a great excuse to read about weird folk traditions, go to old pubs, or sift through pictures of London Pearly Kings. We just got back from Hastings' Jack in the Green festival which was amazing, we got to see the Hunters Moon Morris side which we looked at a lot for this collection.”

The two constantly refer to Heresy as a project rather than a brand or label, both in emails and across their social channels (Twitter handle @heresylabel aside), something that in the wrong hands could feel a little, pretentious? “We use it as a tool to get involved with lots of disciplines,” they clarify.

“We’ve put on club nights, dressed spaces for film screenings, produced artwork for print, shown at exhibitions. The menswear is certainly the main focus, but it’s nice to give it a bit of room to change and grow. We’re not that keen on the term ‘brand’ either. We want to work hard, learn and make things; a ‘brand’ can sound a bit business and vacuous, it’s important to us that there’s content behind what we’re doing.”

The argument is strong, and far from having It girl model/DJ/actress vibes, or being the product of some middle aged boardroom chat, the project evokes the same earnest qualities awarded early DIY culture. No doubt a second hand consequence of the physical space they occupy in SE15.

While much has been made of Peckham’s gentrification, and it does exist, anyone who’s walked down Rye Lane of a weekday (or end) will observe a continued sense of soul, not yet lost to third party business.

“Peckham, and south London in general, has become a pretty central part of the project,” the pair recognise. “We feel really lucky to be part of the community of people doing interesting things; everyone is really supportive here.”

“We’ve collaborated with the heroes at Ali Baba Juice, they’re doing some rad stuff and have always had our backs. Peckham Print Studio are making some really strong moves and have taught us a lot about printing. We’re having a good time down here, the people are great and it feels like everyone is working hard.”

And up next? “We’re working on a bunch of exciting things at the moment; some books, a couple of pop up spaces, music and print stuff. We’re also producing a more ambitious collection for next year which we’re super excited about.”

Words: Zoe Whitfield

heresylabel.co.uk

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