June 26, 2013

Fashion collaborations…fantastic things, aren’t they? Two or more minds merging together to something truly unique and innovative. Well, turns this very process has been happening right here in our UO offices; a strong bond of ideas formed by our very own European buyer Kris Babet, and menswear brand AMH.

AMH (named after creative director Ashley Marc Hovelle) was founded back in 2007 on the beaches of Ibiza, launching his line with the popular slogan tee “I’m Bad,” and later innovating the first ever fashionable waterproof garms. Five years on, Ashley has teamed up with Urban Outfitters (well…Kris) to bring to you a collection of tee’s inspired by cities from around the world.

To launch the new collection AMH set up a pop-up shop party on London’s Camden high street. Never ones to deny an invitation (we love a good party) we headed on down to ask the guys a few questions…


UO: Hey guys, tell us a bit about yourselves…

KB: Hi, I’m Kris Babet, the European menswear buyer for Urban Outfitters. I have always had a passion for fashion from a young age, having to get dressed up for church or family parties in my teenage years; oh the mistakes that entailed! I first started working in fashion at around the age of 16, in the showrooms of Hugo Boss and Kenzo. I knew from then I wanted to work in buying.

AMH: I’m Ashley Marc Hovelle – Creative Director at AMH. Having worked in a multitude of fashion roles, I have designed for Fred Perry, Gabicci Vintage and collaborated with luxury British heritage brand Gloverall. I have also worked on the buying teams for Urban Outfitters and Envy, as well as a Tailor on London’s renowned Saville Row for Anderson & Sheppard.


UO: You’ve collaborated on the ‘AMH for Urban Outfitters’ range. Do tell…

KB: Well I was in New York at the man trade show wandering around looking at the new collections when I stumbled across Ashley and his line AMH. It was a swelteringly hot New York Sunday in July and his t-shirts stood out as one of the most appealing lines there. I started talking to Ashley and quickly found out that there was lot more to his tees then just the designs, in particular the water proof aspects.

Whilst we were talking one of the guys from the show came round with some waters for us. He was wearing this t-shirt that looked a bit like the fire dept issue tee the U.S. firemen wear. On closer inspection the badge was a really nice vintage looking embroidered piece with the Eiffel tower and ‘Paris’ scrawled across the top. I said to Ashley the tee looked cool and he should do something like that. He burst out laughing dived into his bag and pulled one out for me – turns out he’d done them especially for Antoine and his staff for the show. That was how it all started…


UO: The concept involves cities around the world. What was the inspiration?

KB: Well Ashley started things off with the ‘Paris’ design, then decided to do ‘London’ as that’s where we are both from. New York because that’s where we met, Japan because we bonded on a rather drunken Karaoke night and Berlin as we had just opened the Berlin stores.

AMH: The inspiration behind the Paris t-shirt was Travel and Tees. As a fashion designer I tend to choose different outfits for each city I go to with the boys. Plus, with the “Man” show coming from Paris, it seemed natural to begin with a key fashion capital.


UO: Ashley, you created your AMH20 line –the world’s first water resistant tee. Was this created for the lifeguard in all of us…in case we had to save a life without thinking twice?

AMH: Yes, we created the world’s first water resistant cotton t-shirt. AMH20 is an original range of water resistant cotton clothing. Each garment utilises a new Nano technology, which prevents the fabric absorbing moisture from rain or other liquids.

UO: Kris, you work up in the Urban Outfitters HQ. What’s a normal day like for you here as a menswear buyer?

KB: Busy. I come in to over a hundred e-mails a day and at least five people wanting to talk to me! Then have catch ups/ appointments with suppliers, meetings with store staff, sign offs and all sorts – the beauty of it is no day is ever really the same and I love it.


UO: So if someone out there has a graphic t-shirt brand, and they need a few words of advice, what would you tell them?

KB: Listen to what buyers tell you but don’t change your brand on their say-so. Buyers want something they buy to sell well, it’s what they’re judged on. Buyers also want their stores to look the best and only want the best product on their shop floors. By working together you maximize the chance of a win win scenario.

AMH: I’d tell them that a graphic may appear amazing on paper, however, it needs to be suitable for a t-shirt and most importantly wearable. Most believe they could put a graphic on a t-shirt moreover; this needs to convey a message that resonates with not only yourself, but also those that may wear it.


UO: Pick one word each which best describes the range…

KB: One word, that’s tricky… I’m going to go with two – intercontinentally renowned! Is intercontinentally a word? It is now I came up with it!

AMH: Wearable – as you can wear these t-shirts at any time, worn casual with jeans or smarter under a blazer.


UO: What’s your favourite album cover ever?

KB: Ever??? That’s even harder, I’m a buyer, I’m fickle, and always looking for newness! I’m going to go with… Nirvana in Utero – my catholic upbringing and older brothers love of Nirvana got me into them. The image of a pregnant angel has stayed with me.

AMH: Probably my first album I ever brought on cassette, which was ‘Vanilla Ice – To the Extreme’. At age 8 I felt like the coolest kid with my Aiwa cassette player and foam headphones on full volume.


Click the picture below and check out the city threads.