We Are Villains

It seems that everyone that has a MySpace account is making T-shirts these days. And maybe so. But TRAVIS sought out some cool T-shirts that aren’t being made too far away and speak volumes for creativity in an oversaturated market. And why each shirt is limited edition.

Fashion Profile: We go behind the scenes of T-shirt maker Villains. (Click to view)

Fashion Profile: We go behind the scenes of T-shirt maker Villains. (Click to view)

I HATE WEARING what everyone else is wearing. I am guilty of being a trendy piece of crap, although. I’ve gone through the American Apparel stage, the Nike stage, the goofy beanie stage, even the dreaded emo stage. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Hell, as I write this I’m sitting in sweat pants and I can’t help but feel rebellious without my butt hanging out of those skinny jeans I wear.

Besides all this, there happens to be a small corner in Milton where a mastermind lives. Within his lair he creates his own brand of clothing.

Maybe lair is a stretch. But best described as a secret workshop full of underground shirts, stickers, snowboards, skateboards, posters and other random goodies. Keep in mind that this is all tucked away in the depths of suburbia.

Jay Sakuta is the owner, operator and creator of Villains – a limited-run clothing line that fuses style and class into a completely unique brand of clothing.

“We want things our way, we don’t want to look like your stereotypical kid,” Sakuta recently told TRAVIS while leaning back into his chair. I’ve seen Villains around for a while now as a lot of kids wear it at local shows. I’ve met Sakuta a few times prior to this. The fist being after I lurked his website. The next day I drove to his house and bought a grey hoodie that is now long sold out. The medium sweater barely fit me, but I was so stoked I didn’t care. It’s too bad that sweater is sitting in some random girl’s house in Oakville, and she “can’t seem to find it.” Bitch.

“We’ve always been, well, not the outcast, but the kids that want things differently. Whether it be music, skateboarding or snowboarding, we think of things differently so we want things differently. We don’t want to be sheep,” Sakuta said while flipping through album artwork on his iTunes. He clicked play and the slow intro to an album started to play providing creative ambiance to the interview.

His black cat lurked around the room as we sat and chatted about what he’s created. The subtle hip-hop tunes made the entire situation relaxed. The room we were sitting in was small, but had so many old CDs and collectables hidden that it would take hours to explore. A giant black Cancer Bats poster sat tucked away between the ceiling pipes. One of my favorite bands, yet I’ve never seen that one before.

I HAVEN’T BOUGHT a new shirt from Sakuta in quite sometime now. I usually take a look at the new line every month, but don’t have the extra cash to buy one. Recession anyone?

“I’ve always said it’s for kids who know. And it’s always been that way. I like how it’s kind of like a little secret society,” Sakuta said. “The kids that are into it are from a huge spectrum. Whether it’s people that are into Toronto art or 15-year-old kids that literally put it on their wish list for Christmas,” he said handing me a giant Villains sticker to put on my MacBook.

Villains has begun to take off in ways Sakuta never imagined.

“It blows me away to see orders from Sweden and there’s even American military dudes stationed in Iraq that I’m mailing stuff out to. It’s a crazy audience,” he said. A new line is released every month at three locations in Ontario: Livestock in Toronto, Loop in Waterloo, and Boredem in Waterdown.

Starting up in late 2006, Villains has released quality clothing and accessories ever since. All of the prints are silk-screened on quality shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies.

“I’m over American Apparel just because it is so hipster now and I’m just sick and tired of seeing that. I’ve just been sourcing out other things,” Sakuta said.

The clothing is designed and inspired by tattoo artists such as Bailey Moffatt from Anchors Tattoo in Burlington, and local artists such as Patrick Sparrow from The Black Mass in Georgetown. The style has grown from flashy bright colors to subtler, darker colour tones.

Sakuta explained that Villains is slowly changing. Always moving away from what used to be popular.

“The shirts that kids usually grab the most are the ones I don’t even like. Every once in a while I’ll put out something that I’m not crazy stoked on, but then at the same time kids snag that stuff so quickly.”

Themes have emerged from month-to-month with the line. Sakuta explains that he is aware that with many of the new designs, the younger crowd just won’t understand.

“The 2009 Villains [collection] is a lot more grown up,” he says. “It’s always progressed with myself. It’s always been where I am. It’s more what I’m looking for. I want to make references that a lot of people don’t understand. This month’s Mason stuff, a lot of kids don’t get it, but the people that do are even more excited about it.”

Each shirt is limited to 25 prints each. Once it is sold out, it’s gone for good. That shirt will never be printed again. Possibly the reason why Villains is the way it is. You are never going to run into someone else that is wearing the same shirt as you. And if you do, an epic stare down will ensue followed by a solid conversation about Villains. It’s small and unknown. And, sorry girls, Villains is only for guys. Or bros.

Girls clothing has been an idea for Sakuta, but those catchy tag lines like “Nobody Loves A Villain” and “I’m Sorry I’m Not Sorry” have appealed steadily to male audiences.

“Guys are more conscious. Guys are just like, ‘I want this.’ While girls want to go see it, try it on and pick it up that way. I’ve got too many major competitors for girls. If I were to make a woman’s shirt at the same price point as everyone else, girls will just go buy it at H&M,” he said.

Villains is expanding quickly by hosting events like BroSesh, a fun snowboard evening at zero cost to shredders. It includes high fives, boardslides, good times and free shirts.

PEOPLE THAT ARE into Villains are hooked. It’s only a matter of time before Sakuta might have to give up his day job to keep up with demand. Steve Burger, a friend of Sakuta, put Villains into perspective.

“It’s just good – is all it is. It’s just got a vibe to it, chill clothes for chill guys.”

The small Milton music scene has also caught onto what Sakuta has created and it will only take time for it to move further.

“I don’t know why its appealed so heavily to kids in that scene. I never wanted it to be pinned as a scene brand, a skate brand or a snowboard brand. I never want to be pinned as anything, I guess. I just want it to be a lifestyle,” Sakuta said with a quick glean of a smile.

If you’re interested, Villains is available online at wearevillains.com.

text by michaelburton

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  1. Hi, cool post. I have been thinking about this issue,so thanks for writing. I’ll definitely be coming back to your blog. Keep up the good posts

  1. November 28th, 2013
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