We all strive to be different.
Whether we like it or not, we search for those items of clothing that make us stand out from the crowd, unique and turning heads as we walk.
Wearing a hoodie with semaphore flags on the back does just that. Don’t worry if you aren’t aware of the old naval language because by the time this piece is through, you’ll be an expert.
Imagine silently telling everyone in your meeting to “Eat Sh*t D*ck Face” with the clothes you are wearing.
You’re in on that special secret and you can smile sweetly knowing that only you are aware of what those bright, innocent flags are really saying…
Meet I Sunk Your Battleship, an independent streetwear brand located in the North East of England.
It strives to create high quality clothes, using our old naval heritage that are a little tongue in cheek.
But where did the brand come from?
“The idea of I know, you don’t is too tempting for people these days,” says Ross McPhie, head of ISYB.
LIFE, LOVE AND LIBERTY: Ross and North East bloggers at the launch party
“Society is obsessed with those flash in the pan clothing brands that only show off your pecs and guns. ISYB is more than that, it’s for the everyday man.”
Sitting in a converted garage on a farm in Durham, ISYB is created from Ross’ very own back garden.
Filled with Star Wars, Lego, Planet of the Apes and skateboards, the office space is an inspirational zone for the latest designs to be created.
Ross himself is a force to be reckoned with.
Originating from Glasgow his strong accent, combined with his height, make him the life of the party.
He is full to the brim with anecdotes.
However, as his passion lies with skate clothing, Ross is casually dressed.
Adorned with ISYB’s No Hope hoodie and Vans, he channels that element of “cool” without even knowing.
However, he is no stranger to hard work.
With a CV boasting employers such as Puff Daddy, Nike, Animal and Echo, he’s the perfect example of where determination can get you.
Ross said: “Standing in Puff Daddy’s office was such an out of body experience, I was nervous as he looked through my portfolio.”
“The only pages he stopped at were some bullet proof vests I designed for the police.
“In the end I got a “you’re alright” and he left. I still don’t know what he meant to this day.”
It’s hard not to get sucked into a story that Ross is telling you, his excitable accent and pearls of wisdom means that you come out of it feeling like you’ve learnt something valuable.
But where does I Sunk Your Battleship come into the equation?
Working for Nike wasn’t the best time for Ross, he describes it as “a justifiable paycheck” in his career history and with his wife, Sarah, pregnant with their first child, Samson, that time was the perfect moment for Ross to leave it all.
Ross said: “Samson was a difficult pregnancy for Sarah and me. There were times that we thought he wouldn’t make it and termination was suggested a lot.”
“It made us realise that we needed to be back in the UK with our families.”
Ross is no stranger to quick goodbyes, whilst working for Animal he told his boss that he was going to a stag do when, in reality, he was flying to New York for an interview with Echo.
It’s those fight or flight moments that make you realise why Ross seems to be so level headed when it comes to his business.
ISYB: The launch of life, love and liberty at Capology, Newcastle
When I asked if he had any regrets over his decision to leave Nike, he was insistent that it was the best thing that he’d ever done by using the metaphor: “What if?”
After moving to the UK, Ross was jobless and found himself creating ISYB T-Shirts on the side of design consulting.
“I never expected for ISYB to get to the height that it’s at now,” He said.
A mutual friend of Ross and Sarah offered to take ISYB’s small T Shirt collection to London Press Week and, thinking nothing of it, the couple agreed.
What they received, however, was high praise from media outlets such as Loaded and Men’s Health.
It was then they realised that they had an opportunity and secured funding immediately.
So why should we pay attention to ISYB?
Focusing on Britain’s long forgotten naval communication, semaphore, ISYB uses unique designs to spell out secret messages that only you, the consumer will know.
“A lot of brands don’t have a substance and what it’s behind it is a philosophy of f*** all,” Ross said.
“Our latest collection, Creatures of the Deep, has put a fresh spin on Britain’s naval history. Every piece is expertly designed with the customer in mind.”
However, with every business comes it’s downsides and when I asked Ross he was more than happy to divulge his, although he did take a while to think of the negatives.
He said: “They say that a new brand has to be introduced to a consumer eight to 10 times before they’ll be interested in it.”
“We’re at a point now where sales are coming in but we’re hoping for more.
“I’m fortunate to live in such a loving environment and that’s given me the confidence to look past the negatives and focus on the future.
“My wife Sarah is always motivating me to get my finger out and now look, I have successful collections out and we’re only getting bigger.”
Shipping to France, USA and Germany to name a few, a Twitter following of over 4,000 and an Instagram army of over 8,000, there’s no slowing this brand down.
But where does Ross see the future of ISYB?
He said: “I’d really like for ISYB to remain the sole focus in my life.”
Ross explains that the naval concept opens many doors for him and he hopes to broaden the theme more.
Words such as sea, historical, naval and flags were thrown around so it looks like the future collections will be even more cooler than the last.
On the business side Ross is adamant that organic growth is what ISYB needs to succeed, throwing off the rumour that independent brands actively seek paid advertising.
As well as this, Ross also has ideas of countries that he’d like to send to. The brand is already active in Iceland, Japan and Poland and who knows where ISYB will sail to next?
He said: “I’d hope in five years ISYB is a substantial beast with better coverage and sold internationally.”
“Let’s aim big and set our sails for that.”
Keep your eyes open for this brand in the future, it’s destined for success.
Ross divulges his three top tips for success…
Shop ISYB’s new collection Creatures of the Deep
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