Interview by Adam Woodward
In a society where art and taste have become a perma-fixture of personal paraphernalia, the inherent geekiness of cinema still requires an element of discretion. Last Exit to Nowhere, then, is the movie geek’s Mecca. The T-shirt company, which was launched online in June 2007 by Mike Ford, a former guitarist with Nottingham punk-rockers, Consumed, is imaginative, subtle and unashamedly nerdy.
Paying homage to some of the most memorable places, companies and corporations in cinematic history from Goodfellas to Brazil; The Italian Job to Jaws, Ford’s distinctive array of faux-brand merch is thoughtful, colourful and occasionally bordering on out right genius. To put it simply, Ford knows his shit, and his eye for an in-joke makes Last Exit one of the coolest companies of its kind. Ford recently gave LWLies the low down on his unique film fashion site.
LWLies: Where did the idea for Last Exit to Nowhere come from?
Ford: The idea for the company developed from my love of cinema, collecting T-shirts, and a feeling of being creatively stifled at the design agency I worked for at the time. My brother is a screen printer by trade, and I’ve always been able to take ideas from popular/retro culture – including films – and design and produce bespoke garments.
It seemed that T-shirts with a film title or the actor’s likeness printed on them were 10 a penny. I wanted something different to wear, so I set about looking for references within the films I liked to produce T-shirts that act as a subtle appreciation rather than blatant fandom. Whilst cycling to work one day it occurred to me that I could supplement my income if I wove these elements together and offered something unique, original and affordable for those who felt the same way as I did. Within a few of months of the site going live I had to leave my job to pursue the idea full time.
LWLies: How do you come up with fresh ideas that have never been done before?
Ford: Most of the ideas in the current range come from films that I either grew up watching, mostly at friends’ houses on Betamax/VHS videos, or from films that I appreciate today. Any new ideas that come my way are from the same source really.
LWLies: How do you go about designing the T-shirts?
Ford: When the idea is set then I begin working up the artwork. This involves creating/recreating the design using pencil, ink, PhotoShop and Illustrator. I try and design the garment in a way that is sympathetic with the era or feel of the film and its location.
LWLies: How do you decide what films are suitable for T-shirt designs?
Ford: The simple rule of thumb I use is the reference has to be from a film that appeals to me first and foremost. I’m not into producing T-shirts from films that don’t interest me just to sell them.
LWLies: How much creative freedom do you have? Have you ever needed special clearance on a design?
Ford: When and where it’s relevant we negotiate the legalities of selling our items. The creative freedom is still there, though.
LWLies: Are there any films you have wanted to do, but haven’t been able to realise?
Ford: We’d love to do a ‘Lunar Industries’ design from Duncan Jones’ Moon. However, it appears that Sony Pictures have complete ownership of any reference to it.
LWLies: Have you had any major set backs?
Ford: Only a couple of technical set backs with the website really, nothing to write home about – touch wood.
LWLies: Where do you take the company from here?
Ford: We’d like the company to continue in the way it has been developing, offering new and interesting designs along the way. We’ve recently added a ‘Join Us’ section to the website where you can qualify for discounts and special offers. With enough members we are hoping to conquer a small country.
If you feel like fuelling your inner fanboy, take a peek at the site’s online shop. We did, and we couldn’t be happier.