On Black Friday, late in 2017, I went into Urban Outfitters and found myself picking up a Jay-Z ‘Reasonable Doubt’ album cover inspired t-shirt. When I was ready to pay, I noticed the person serving me was a wearing a Notorious B.I.G, Diddy and Faith Evans inspired Bad Boy Records jumper. I’d never seen anything like it before. I asked him if they sold it, because I was ready to get it there and then. Unfortunately not. However, he told me that the jumper was designed by his friend and asked if I wanted the name. This was how I was introduced to Marino Morwood.
After some internet searching, I discovered that this was more than a brand. I could see someone who had a passion for music and fashion; and they had found the perfect way to merge the two. Now here we are, talking about everything from inspiration to favourite rappers.
HOW DID THE IDEA AND CONCEPT OF THE BRAND COME ABOUT? DID IT PURELY STEM FROM A LOVE OF HIP-HOP AND R&B, MIXED WITH A LOVE FOR FASHION, OR WAS IT MORE THAN THAT?
It started in spring 2016 because I was looking to buy a Gucci Mane t-shirt for the summer, but every single one I found had the same tacky aesthetic. I’ve been into 90s rap tee designs for a while, but not many people design with the look in mind. Needless to say, I couldn’t find what I was looking for.
I decided to see what I could come up with, and originally, I just wanted to make a few for me and a couple of my friends but the manufacturer I used had a minimum order of 25. I went ahead anyway, had them printed, took one for myself, and gave a few to my friends for the cost of production. Then I ended up with 15-20 t-shirts to figure out what to do with next. I posted a picture of the tee on Instagram and received a good response. Within the hour I had made a website and posted them for sale for 72 hours only. I sold the majority of them, then gave the last few away. By then, I was straight back in Photoshop putting together my next idea.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO NAME THE BRAND AFTER YOURSELF?
Because since day one it’s been me creating designs I wanted to wear for myself, then releasing it out into the world. And it still is that. It’s me doing me, creating what I want to create. I can do what I want if I am the brand. I do not have to create a brand identity and story to try to make it resonate with people.
OF ALL THE GREAT CLOTHES YOU’VE DESIGNED, FROM THE FIRST EVER GUCCI MANE T-SHIRT, TO THE BAD BOY RECORDS SWEATSHIRT, DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL FAVOURITE?
I actually made my favourite design yesterday. It’s some crazy front and back Travis Scott design, but that won’t be coming out until around April time. From what’s already been released, I’d say the Bad Boy Records sweatshirt or the J-Lo tee. I spent months going back and forth with my manufacturer working on getting the Bad Boy design perfect, so I’m proud of that one. The J-Lo tee embodies the sound of early 2000s R&B in its entirety, and is straight up summertime in a t-shirt.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH ARTIST YOU ARE GOING TO HONOUR WITH A DESIGN?
It’s normally whoever I’m listening to at the time. I’ll be sat in my room, hear a certain song and be like “Fuck, why haven’t I already made a design for [this person]”. Then I’ll put their albums on loop for hours and just sit on Photoshop figuring out how I want to embody their vibe into a visual design. I think about what that person represents to me. But also how their music makes me feel, I ask myself how I can transcend that to ink on fabric. Everything is considered, from the colour palettes to the fonts, to the composition, even to the lyrics I choose to use.
MUSIC T-SHIRTS ARE VERY POPULAR AMONG THE MARKET, FROM STORES LIKE URBAN OUTFITTERS ALL THE WAY TO SELFRIDGES. HOW DO YOU SEE MARINO MORWOOD BEING DIFFERENT FROM THE REST?
I’m not trying to make quick cash. I’m trying to make clothes people cherish and still wear in 20 years when the fabric has holes and the collars are hanging off. I feel you can tell with a vast majority of what you see in the streets, that the designs have just been thrown together without any thought of the actual artist. My designs embrace the artist’s identity and try to showcase them as people and artists to the best of my ability. I want everything in my design to go back to that artist. It’s all tied together. Not just random shit that looks cool.
HIP-HOP IS CLEARLY AN INFLUENTIAL PART OF YOUR LIFE BUT WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE, GO-TO, ARTISTS IN THE GENRE?
I always remember when I was in primary school my mum would pick me up in a purple BMW with blacked out windows. She would be playing G-Unit ‘Poppin Them Thangs’ or some 2Pac record. So it’s always been around me growing up as a kid. My go-to artists from the 90s/early 00s would have to be 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Nas, Ja Rule and 2Pac. Go-to artists from this generation are Chief Keef, Youngboy NBA, Kodak Black and Young Thug.
NOW, THE VIDEO OF QUAVO AND TRAVIS SCOTT DANCING TO BAD AND BOUJEE IS A PRETTY FAMOUS VIDEO. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO SEE QUAVO, WHO IS DEFINITELY ONE OF THE WORLDS BIGGEST MUSICIANS RIGHT NOW, WEARING SOMETHING YOU DESIGNED?
That shit was crazy as fuck. Especially as that video by Tyler was cool as hell anyway, with or without the tee. Whenever anybody famous wears my stuff, everybody is always tagging me in the comments or messaging me the post. So the day that video dropped, my inbox was filled with my messages from my excited friends. “How the fuck has Quavo got your t-shirt?!” they would say. I knew he had the tee because my friend Bryan personally gave it to him as they’re friends, but to see he chose to wear it when he has his pick of all the Gucci and Versace in the world is a cool feeling.
ANOTHER ONE OF 2017’S HIP-HOP STYLE ICONS, PLAYBOI CARTI, WAS SEEN WEARING YOUR 2PAC T-SHIRT TOO RIGHT?
It’s pretty crazy because I listen to these guys every day. And I really do fuck with their artistic vision, so to know they fuck with my vision in a different medium is a good feeling.
WHAT’S THE LONG TERM GOAL FOR THE BRAND?
Honestly, just to keep progressing and moving forwards. I can’t be stuck in a cycle of making the same stuff. Right now I’m working on getting the rap tees to the next level for 2018. I’m taking more direct control over the printing process too. In the future I’ll definitely be releasing some clothing people wouldn’t expect from me, but it’s all a work in progress at the moment. So really the long term goal is just to reach a level where I have full creative freedom and the resources to support the ideas that I want to make a reality.
words by Karan Teli | @karanteli24