I wanna use this space to document/archive & share my journey with Solus, alongside the thought processes & story behind Solus capsules.
I hope this offers you insight, value and even some inspiration as I show you how I conceived of the related concepts and ultimately create the final products & any promotional material.
With my output at Solus, I want to expose you to new concepts and approaches to the conventional path of life & angles of thinking about concepts. That is what Solus is all about after all.
Over my brief stint in streetwear, I've witnessed far too many brands attempt the path most trodden and attempt to penetrate wardrobes by releasing whats ‘hyped’ in the moment, often resulting in the same old, shoddy tees boasting a generic logo slapped on it.
- This is something I would not recommend, if you want to build something with an identity that can last longer than a season. Of course, this approach has worked for a minority of emerging, underdog brands; but it’s neither a sustainable way of gaining notoriety within your industry, nor is it an idea that I am stimulated by.
And if a concept doesn’t excite me, then I know I can do better and should go back to the drawing board. This project, the SanCan, is an example of a concept I have loved working on, and feel it has encapsulated many aspects of what I'm trying to achieve with Solus, from the unconventional product, hijacked marketing campaign and fusion of art, music and fashion.
So, heres my thinking behind the SanCan, the greatest drink to never exist, and the 'Canpaign' material enacted to build up to the release of the 2nd iteration of the SanCan.
Until I sat down and actually deeped my thinking and inspirations that went into this drop, I hadn’t clocked that this story goes back to when I was 13 years old and just beginning to dip my toes into the streetwear scene… You can only connect the dots looking backwards I guess.
Back then I was using the Japanese Yahoo to score rare streetwear pieces, in this particular package I imported 27 cans from Japan. These weren’t just any normal cans. These were from the legendary 2002 collaboration between A Bathing Ape x Pepsi. At the time of release, this was a huge deal for Bape and a defining moment for their brand.
One thing I loved about this collab was the apparent clash of universes, between a multinational drinks company producing a consumable product, mixed with a Japanese streetwear label. So to see Bape use their instantly recognisable camo on a conventional item like an aluminium can, really got me thinking about what is considered ‘art’ and the mediums available to a creator, like myself.
Art can appear in countless forms; even a cold and hard piece of metal encapsulating a sugary fizzy drink.
In addition to the whole Bape x Pepsi concept, which evidently embedded its hooks into my subconscious; I had also ALWAYS wanted to make a stash can.
Having been exposed to pieces such as the conventional Coca Cola stash cans and items like the Supreme Stash Bible from FW13. I knew a stash can could make for a sick lifestyle piece. It was just begging for a creative approach and unusual framing, something Solus always strives for.
A can is a sleek and novel canvas for creative expression, offering a degree of permanence, something usually only available to big businesses capable of producing huge volumes of tinned liquid drinks. So it's very special to be able to create a physical product, like the Sacan, which emulates this feeling of permanence whilst still being a small player in our respective market.
The Lyrical Side
One day in 2021, I was enjoying Dave's music (something I do on a daily basis) and heard the line "hiding crow in a rubicon drink, which is funny cause that's how we put food in the fridge" (Psycho, Psychodrama)... I knew in that moment that I had my perfect opportunity to create a stash can entwining Dave’s music, art & streetwear (with a hint of stoner culture).
I got to work on the design, with Dave playing constantly in the background to give me inspiration. As always, my favourite part of the process was finding relevant material to input into the piece. In this case, a ‘nutritional info’ table… fortunately Dave likes to use numbers throughout his work so it was a matter of me collecting up all the lyrics that came to mind and then picking the most appropriate and recognisable.
A nutritional contents table was vital in order to add greater depth to the canned drink concept, whilst also helps in avoiding raising suspicions with security, parents, partners etc. should they clock that ‘SanCan’ is a non-existent drink.
I dropped the v1 of this can in 2022 to a luke-warm response. I never stopped believing in the piece and knew it just needed more eyes on it, for the ball to really start rolling.
Then a few months after release, a number of videos of the can went viral on my personal TikTok; which prompted me to perfect the OG design, which contained a few minor errors in the design.
Fast forward months of tweaking and sampling; we have the SanCan v2.
Hijacking - Good artists copy, great artists steal
Something I have always admired within art, especially pop-art and street art, is its ability to take an existing concept and morph it into something fresh and new.
By refreshing something that is recognisable from our modern world, you are still able to benefit from the pre-existing infrastructure and connotations related to the graphic in question, or perhaps you're trying to draw the existing connotations into question and ask the viewer a bigger question entirely.
Leapfrogging off the backs of incumbent design is what has made the streetwear and art scene so exciting, alive and ever-evolving. This is what captured my heart and attention when I first got into streetwear and is what I love about it to this day.
And so for Solus, hijacking iconic photoshoots & ad campaigns, logos, lyrics and other post-modern artefacts of the modern world is a fun way of conveying the Solus message whilst retaining an air of familiarity from icons you already know and love.
I like to think of this concept as 'hijacking'. An extension of the idea from Picasso that “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. Something that I feel Solus embodies and will continue to reference existing structures in our world, in an aim to make you think about their significance and relevance in our daily lives.
In the spirit of hijacking, it’s only fair that we used the likeness of one of streetwear’s darlings, Kate Moss. The iconic ‘Got Milk’ ad came to mind, which pictured a young Kate with a glass of milk... how the hell do Americans commoditise and brand something as simple & homogenous as milk!?
Anyway, the OG promotional piece offered plenty of fertile material to manipulate in a way that promotes the upcoming drop of our SanCan; whilst also making a nod to a highly successful ad campaign and the timeless face of Kate Moss.
- Big thank you to Kate in advance... It's often better to ask for forgiveness than permission, as they say x
The SanCan tee and hoodie is also a result of this ‘hijacking’, with the 6-colour screenprinted back print featuring a popular high-street bank’s logo on fire...
Without explaining the entire concept to you on a plate, the idea relates to existing Dave graphics, whilst also conveying a message of ‘creative destruction’ - which is when fresh ideas remodel existing concepts by taking the good from them, burn the fat off and start anew.
Solus, as an underdog with limited resources, is standing on the shoulders of existing structures & paradigms. We are then using this to propel us onwards, gaining greater exposure of our message & vision for a more sustainable approach to consumption, and the philosophy of life in general.
The Solus clothing pieces have been screen-printed in London, onto sustainably sourced and high quality pieces. The backprint was so intricate that our printers had to sit down and work out how they could achieve the level of detail required and boy, did they deliver.
Olli // Mr Solus
This SanCan capsule (consisting of the SanCan v2, Flame t-shirt & Flame hoodie) will be available from 7PM on 4/20 (20th April 2023).