We had a chat to Jay, the man behind young up and coming New Zealand based brand Outbox Studios. We talked about not being boxed into labels and building a platform rather than a "brand", drawing from your life situation for inspiration, the Auckland fashion scene, skating, music and living life.
Paired with our chat is a photo series of the Outbox Wave Tee by photographer, Matt Chwe (@zung_zin) and photos by founder, Jay Kim of the Outbox long sleeves.
Featured models: Nigel Munemo (@nigelmunemo) and @sak.uwu.
Outbox Studios: INSTAGRAM
TNB: Hey Jay, thanks for having a chat! Can you tell us what Outbox is all about?
J: Outbox Studios is a platform for creative expression rather than a clothing brand. Producing clothing products is a big part of what we do, but I wanted to keep it open in this way so I could freely throw and project all my weird ideas out, whether it be fashion, skateboarding, music, art, poetry and more. I’m having so much fun in the process of building it up this way.
I wanted to build a project inspired by the things that move me – things that push me to think outside the box. For me, these were skateboarding, music, and my friends. I love the idea of doing things your own way, and I take interest in seeing the endless possibilities that arise when different people take on this attitude. Outbox is a platform to execute this inspiration.
TNB: When did you launch and what inspired you to start?
J: I launched Outbox back in July 2018, around the time when I moved outside of home to live in a different city to pursue my full time job as an audiologist. Leaving home gave me some perspective. I felt pretty isolated and lost a bit of my sense of direction living in such a small town, away from all my friends and family. I started becoming boxed into a routine lifestyle, just going back and forth from home to work. It became unhealthy and started impacting on my wellbeing, so I wanted to do something about it.
The experience of being outside my comfort zone pushed me to search for things I was truly passionate about. That’s what motivated me to start Outbox. Despite the fact that we live in such a judgmental world and throwing myself outside the box can be pretty scary, the cool thing about Outbox is that it sparks conversation. I have a such a fun time learning, sharing and exchanging ideas with different people that I encounter through this platform.
I hope that Outbox encourages people to come out of their shells and think for themselves and to look around and see what they could do to make a positive impact around them. This what is inspiring me to continue Outbox.
TNB: Having recently visited your hometown Auckland, New Zealand we got to see firsthand that Auckland is really pushing out some quality independent fashion brands.
What’s your opinion on the independent fashion scene there? Do you feel Auckland is making strides towards being a key name in this space on a world scale?
J: I think social media (especially Instagram) is a good way for people to stay connected and to be up to date with what’s happening with the current street wear scene. The downside is that there’s no face to face interaction. You don’t know what the other people are truly thinking and feeling.
For me personally, instead of Instagram, I like to visit my favourite clothing stores and having a good yarn with the store owners about the brands that they’re selling. I think it’s really important that clothing store owners take on this approach of creating a comfortable environment for their customers. It can sound like a ‘sales’ tactic, but the face-to-face interaction between the store owner and the customer goes along way. You can truly be able to relate and connect with what’s behind a particular brand through just having a conversation about it, instead of reading about it online. It’s also just a great feeling when you can just pop in to a real life store (rather than an online store) in your own time and experience the products for yourself.
I think there are some key stores in Auckland that do take on this approach (e.g. inviting their friends to just hang out at the store and putting on their favourite music). This attracts other people to come visit because they get naturally curious about what all the buzz is about. I think this is what builds the Auckland fashion scene in my opinion.
TNB: Let’s get personal.
What do you do outside of Outbox? Hobbies, work, hit us with it all.
J: Outside of outbox, I’m a full-time audiologist – diagnosing and treating people with hearing loss. My hobbies include skateboarding, listening to music, and playing guitar.
My favourite artists to listen these days are probably Daniel Caesar, Isaiah Rashad, Tyler the Creator, Rex Orange County, Smino, and Summer Walker.
TNB: What’s a good weekend look like?
J: That’s a really hard question. I think I like to keep it casual. Probably going skating with my good old pal James (A.K.A Big Brisket) in the morning and then meeting up with my girlfriend for dinner and watching a movie together. I also like planning trips with my girlfriend and going on small roadies on the weekends.
TNB: Saturday night, Sunday sesh or neither?
J: Saturday night
TNB: Can you tell us a few independent brands you’re loving?
J: My all-time favourite brand is going to have to be Noah. I love how they stay away from trends, and instead put out whatever they think aligns with who they are. They do so without being restricted by any rules. But they’re also very meticulous and careful with their whole approach. I can see they have so much fun doing that.
TNB: What’s the future look like for Outbox? Do you have any future projects in the works right now?
J: I’m keeping the future for Outbox open for now. I’m super stoked that you guys were able to notice us and give me the opportunity to voice my opinions and ideas. Thank you so much guys.
At this stage, we aren’t doing whole collections where we put out pants, t shirts, hoodies, hats etc. all together. This is because we are still small and growing, so I’m mainly doing one off releases.
I’m currently planning to drop some hoodies for the next project. My girlfriend (Youngeun) is an aspiring graphics designer and so she’s helping me out with some potential designs for the next drop. I’m keen to see what I come up with next and I look forward to the drop.
Go check out Outbox Studios at their Instagram.
Check out Outbox Studios Collaborators
Models - @nigelmunemo and @sak.uwu.