The September 2010 issue of DVD & Blu Ray Review magazine wrote:
Movie fans are catered to en masse these days: how many Superman ‘S’ T-shirts have you seen people wearing this week? All of which means that anybody who wants to show their appreciation of film can find it hard to stand out from the crowd. Which is where Last Exit to Nowhere comes in…
This unique brand was founded in 2007 by Mike Ford, who brings his tongue-in-cheek love of everything cinematic – from Jaws and Deliverance to Ghostbusters and Shaun Of The Dead – to his designs. He uses left-field ideas to give his shirts and hoodies a unique feel; you have to be a fellow fan of the movie in question to get the reference. And that’s COOL. There’s a Hill Valley High School (Back to the Future) top or one bearing the name of the Alien ship, the Nostromo: you can choose from your favourite when you subscribe to Review this month. Beats a Superman logo any day.
The good people of scyfilove.com asked us for an interview…
I’m not much of a one for fashion, but I make an exception when it comes to Last Exit To Nowhere.
In the past four years they have become the geek’s clothing supplier of choice, attracting patronage from Simon Pegg among others and bringing out designs inspired by and paying homage to films like Total Recall, Blade Runner and Alien, to name but three.
The awesomest thing is you can look all day and never find the name of a film on their clothes. Instead they take it to the next level by pulling out the name of a place, a person or company from your favourite film and going to town with that.
It’s like a special badge of honour or a hidden code that only the cool kids will understand, the geeks like you.
What’s more it means I can pretend I’ve been on holiday to Amity Island, work for Skynet or shipped out on the Nostromo (obviously before it blew up) – and I do!
I’m a long-time fan and was delighted when founder of Last Exit To Nowhere, Mike Ford, took time out from thinking up more genius designs to answer my questions.
When did you set up and where did the original idea come from? Where does the name Last Exit To Nowhere come from?
My brother is a screen printer by trade so I’ve always been able to produce one-off T-shirts from various references in film, music, tv, computer games – you name it.
In 2006 I decided to focus on this area in a commercial sense and began the idea of Last Exit to Nowhere.
The ‘Nowhere’ aspect of the name represents the fictional companies, places etc that we feature in our range of T-shirts and the ‘Last Exit to’ was inspired by the film title ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’ which I always liked as a name.
What is your background – i.e did you work in graphic art? What were your influences?
Last Exit to Nowhere is a team effort all round. I’m from a graphic design background so I tend to work on the designs and advertising mostly. Influences come from all cultural areas.
Are you geeks?
It has been said, although I like to think of myself more of a film/design enthusiast!
What was the first T-Shirt you did? Any reason why?
The first ever T-shirt I created was a band T-shirt when I was about 14. I designed it, my brother printed it. The band was called Desecrator and the T-shirt design featured a skeleton warrior king sat on a throne (actually lifted from an Ian Livington/Steve Jackson fighting fantasy book I was into at the time)
Awesome image. I’d wear it today if I still had it!
How pleased have you been with the reaction to LETN and how important is that feedback to you? And what has your reaction been to other similar t-shirt companies that have set up in your wake?
It’s a great to be part of a wider community that offer such positive and supportive comments. The interaction is probably the best thing about what we do.
We’ve had positive support and encouragement from lots of great people including actor Simon Pegg and legendary director Andrew Stanton.
We also support any company that is willing to offer their own unique take on the film reference T-shirt.
What has been the most popular T-shirt design?
Our Nostromo T-shirt goes down well.
How do you come up with the ideas for T-shirts, and how much work does it take to turn the idea into the finished product? Can people contact you with T-shirt ideas?
The T-shirt designs develop over a period of time. Once an idea is set in stone I begin sketch it up, normally on paper and then work it up digitally until I’m happy with how it works.
I like the design to be sympathetic with the feel/era of the fictional company, place, etc. We’re always happy to hear people’s suggestions for T-shirts.
What are your plans for the future of LETN?
Our plans are to build an army of followers and eventually conquer a small country.
The March/April edition of movieScope wrote this great article about Last Exit to Nowhere:
“Whether you are looking to impress at your next audition with your knowledge of film, or just want to indulge your passion for all things film-related. the range of seriously cool clothing from the boys at Last Exit to Nowhere may be just what you’re looking for this summer. Described in the press from Australia to the USA as ‘the greatest T-shirt company on the web’ Last Exit to Nowhere are the stuff of legend. Forget the predictable movie merchandise found at markets; their range of T-shirts and hooded tops make intelligent and subtle references to your favourite films, while being stylish designs in their own right. From logos like The Paper Street Soap Company (Fight Club) and Dapper Dan hair wax (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) to more oblique references like Abe Froman: Sausage King of Chicago (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), Last Exit to Nowhere allude to the wearer’s knowledge, as well as their taste in films; an approach which has made them a favourite with celebrities and fans alike. Anyone for a drink at the Winchester Tavern? Check out the fantastic range at www.lastexittonowhere.com”
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.
All measurements are taken underarm to underarm and back collar to bottom hem. All sizes are an approximation and can vary from garment to garment.
Garments may shrink slightly in the first wash. Colours should be colourfast but we always recommend washing like colours together in case of colour run. Wash our garments on a cool wash and line dry. If you tumble dry them they will shrink.