23 June 2011
Alchemy Gothic: Geoff Kayson Interview
Gothic brand giant Alchemy Gothic may not seem like a company that grew from humble beginnings, but the history of the brand is really quite an interesting one. The Alchemy Gothic website tells a story that begins in 1977, the story of a young punk making lead badges on the cooker of his dingy flat in Leicester, selling them for a few quid each at his local pub.
He found himself not far off his goal; saving enough money for a ferry ticket to Holand and a new life, when a stranger asked to buy everything he had. Buying the handful of home-made badges, the man asks if he can have another thousand by the following week. Overwhelmed by the task, the punk convinces his brother to help him and their new life begins; not in Holland as planned, but on a path they could never have imagined. And so, Alchemy Gothic was born.
The brand's logo is now instantly recognisable in the alternative world, and their products have maintained steady popularity and can be found in almost every single alternative home. We caught up with Alchemy Gothic's Managing Director and top designer Geoff Kayson to find out a little more about the brand we all know and love.
The history of Alchemy Gothic is a fascinating one. Other than being in the right place at the right time, what else has ensured the brand's success?
The fact that it was started by young, passionate artists from the alternative community who loved what they made and believed in themselves, and has continued in that same way with the same, but growing team of dedicated, positive and determined enthusiasts who support each other and love the lifestyle.
Where do you get your inspiration for new designs?
Living the life: music & alternative gigs/festivals, bike shows, ink conventions, etc; mixing and having fun. Traveling, and history - both factual and fictional: we have always been avid historians, readers and observers. History provides a vast sea of exhilarating and inspiring subjects and ideas - visiting different countries, people and cultures; seeing and feeling their art and architecture and learning of their pasts, their customs, characters and legends. It all provides an infinitely rich source of material to recycle and embellish.
How do you keep up to date with the latest trends in gothic fashion?
Although many of us at Alchemy naturally mix in alternative circles, we don't tend to deliberately or consciously 'keep up' with any particular scene, but rather just existentially add to it with our own personal developments and inspirations, as participating, creative enthusiasts.
How have the tastes of the gothic community changed or stayed the same over the years?
Like any scene, nothing remains the same forever - there is a constant desire for individuals of character (as goths are!), to shock, be different, get noticed and coquettishly out-do each other, which leads to a natural evolution and exaggeration of style and a decline in the more commonplace.
Bats and coffins were once shocking, but whilst being timeless and always an integral part of the cultural recipe, are beyond causing a stir nowadays. New icons are sought out and interesting fusion-themes naturally develop, such as the sky-pirate trend and then the hi-tech-Victorian/Edwardian 'steampunk' style.
You developed the Alchemy Empire collection to cater for the boom in popularity of Steampunk fashion. Why do you think Steampunk has so caught the imagination of the alternative world?
In 1992, Alchemy began a sucessful trend of 'goth-tech', preceding the recognised steampunk theme, with the Georgian Dr von Rosenstein's 'Art of Science' collection based on his fiendishly outrageous Induction Principle System machine. Following the inexerable rise in this vein of goth style, Alchemy updated it's own contribution with the 'next generation'; Victorian industrial scientist, Ezikiel Empire Rosenstein, and his bewildering array of pre-emptive technology.
Steampunk is a natural progression from the established Victorian goth look to a more outrageous and imaginative, yet curiously elegant variation. It will no doubt continue to evolve and morph into yet more curious forms, or else there will eventually be a rejective reaction against it, as there was from glam-rock to grunge.
What have been the constant bestsellers for Alchemy Gothic, and why do they have such staying power?
Although it has been around in some form or another since the beginning, the original 'Alchemist' skull, with the black rose in his teeth, has been irrepressible. Apart from it being utterly representative of the entire Alchemy ethos, one of the enduringly mystical features of The Alchemist is its antithesis; the symbols of both dark and light, bitter and sweet, (skull & rose), in the same device.
Any hints of what might be the next big thing in gothic trends?
That would be rather unwise of me to speculate openly - (either we lose some successful initiatives, or else I'm wrong and I make ourselves look foolish!) - but we do hope that we are currently developing some interesting and attractive new styles for release in the near future which could help influence trends, and at least we are having tremendous creative fun doing them!