In the ten years that Patrick Liberty and his brother Mike have run Akomplice clothing, they’ve become famous for their collaborations. That name alone gives you an idea of how important working with other creatives is for the brand, but you can see the whole lot for yourselves at akomplice-clothing.com/collaborations. They’ve got together with big names from music (Raekwon, MF Doom, Hieroglyphics), skateboarding (Shortys) and the art world (David Flores), and this year designed the graphic for Ride’s newest snowboard – the Helix.
How did Akomplice get started?
It begun in the trailer park of a tiny town called Paonia, Colorado. Mike and I just wanted to sell some clothes to our friends, and make something that had a message and a meaning. Back then, we just wanted to break even. At that time there were only a few streetwear stores that catered to the kind of look we were going for, but every year more of them were opening up, so it just took off.
How did the colab with Ride come about?
I went to SIA [the snowboard industry’s massive annual trade show in Denver] specifically looking to do a snowboard collaboration. I went to a few different companies and showed them what we do, then went back and asked our whole team (who all snowboard) which brand they’d prefer to collaborate with. Ride won the vote, but before I’d even had a chance to tell them, they e-mailed me to say that they were familiar with us and loved what we were doing, so they wanted to work with us. It was very serendipitous!
Did they give you a brief?
At first I kind of gave them a brief of things that I’d like to make happen that would make sense for our brand. I said I wanted to do something innovative, because we stand for doing new stuff that people haven’t seen before. They said “Great, we’ve got this new model coming out called the Helix, and this would be the perfect way to launch it."
What was the process in coming up with the design?
When we do something we take the ‘Tupac method’ – making 100 different versions and then slimming it down to roughly the ten best ones. We always create way more than we use so that we end up with just the very best. This was no exception.
Why did you go with flowers?
The pattern is made up of a whole bunch of natural plants that all have special traits, such as psychoactive properties. Some are from weird spots in South America and Africa that people won’t know about, and others are more familiar, but they’re all unique. The base is a poppy – as found in our favourite bagels, and other stuff…
What about the other pieces of kit – are they all designed to work together?
Yeah. The Fuse boot is another new model, and the floral pattern of the liner ties in with the graphic on the board. The colourway of the Rodeo binding ties back in to everything as well – it’s a set that’s meant to be together.
You and Ride promoted the colab with a video that you shot in Patagonia – why did you go there, and what was it like?
Mike spends about six months a year in a satellite office in south Brazil. He’s also spent a lot of time in Buenos Aires, Argentina, so knows a lot of amazing filmers. He said to Ride that he wanted to make an ‘art’ snowboard film, and they were cool with that. They sent a rider called Alex Sherman down for a seven-day trip – and the mountain was closed for five and a half of them! It was raining, and the cameras were getting wet, it was horrible. We only got a day and a half of snowboarding, but still came out with a nice little trailer. We wanted to take a different approach and make a film that wasn’t about the terrain, or the tricks. It’s about the collaboration and the process of a journey – to show that we’re not just slapping two logos together.
Do you have any plans to do more of these colabs like this in the future?
We try to be very diverse. That’s not to say that we won’t do it again, but if we do, we’d want it to be so different that it’s almost not the same thing…