ChairJames Lillis fashion designer of Black Milk online shop “A lot of people want to know how Black Milk came to be. Well, it’s a long story, full of twists and turns, action and adventures. There are even a few scary bits. But seeing as you asked… why don’t you pull up a metaphoric chair around my metaphoric fire and I’ll tell you the story of Black Milk… “ When James was young, there was a time that he was broke, and everyone around him seemed to have a great job that they enjoyed, “I was broke, bored and rather cold. At that point most people would have got a job and a beanie, but not I”.
He woke up one morning with a desire to make himself a shirt, he went out and bought a second hand sewing machine, and with only $6 left in his wallet, he bought the cheapest nylon lining that he could find. He still does not know why he had such random impulse but he is very glad he did, “It was these fateful decisions that lead me down the path to Black Milk”. Nylon lining is one of the least attractive fabrics in the market; he had to make a fitted shirt with no one to teach him how to sew this complicated fabric. “It was tragic. The stitching was wrong, the pieces were cut weird, and the neck was a nothing more than a hole.
And I loved it” From that moment, things changed. He began doing odd jobs, but “at the back of my mind I was plotting and planning. If I got ten bucks it wasn’t just ten bucks … it was half a meter of printed fabric. Three dollars was a new packet of needles. A hundred bucks meant I could get my machine fixed. ” With all his enthusiasm he worked in trial and error testing different ways of sewing bits and pieces of fabric. “You will immediately notice: 1. Both legs are too short 2. The pattern on the right leg is upside down (Hey, I’m a slow starter, alright?! )
However, despite this every girl who tried them on wanted to buy them. Which was super encouraging for me. So I kept going. ” After one week of teaching himself how to sew with a half working machine, he went into a dance shop and bought some shiny sparkly fabric. “The shop was full of mothers, grandmothers, and me. They looked at me like I was from another planet”. He bought a tribal African print because he had seen on the shops that these prints were in fashion, he thought about the fabric and felt an intuition that it would look best on legs. He started working immediately, drew up a pattern, cut it out and made a pair of leggings in an impressive time for a starter. He wanted to try the leggings on a model and talked to his friend who had a friend who agreed to be a model for James to see if they fit. She put them on, and they didn’t. So he cut them again, and sewed them again several times. And they still didn’t fit. “I must have recut those things ten times”. And finally, they fit. It was at that point that something remarkable and completely unexpected happened, this changed everything. She asked if she could buy them. She took out her wallet, gave him some money and walked off with James leggings.
“I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day. ” It was at that point that James felt that it was not impossible. “I knew that if there was one girl prepared to buy one pair of my leggings, there were (probably) a hundred girls out there who would do the same”. He felt even more confident and he worked even harder to start his own little business “I threw myself into it with a passion. I would spend 5-6 hours a day on the sewing machine trying to figure out how to sew properly. I even attended sewing lessons at the local sewing shop (yes, I stuck out like a sore thumb). It was pretty tough in those early days.
On more than one occasion I came close to throwing everything in the bin. ” The next in the list was getting out and selling his designs, so he went door to door, trying to get shops to sell a few of his pieces. And after several painful no’s, one place finally agreed to display a few of James clothes in a corner of their shop. Unfortunately, a week later and they gave him every single piece back. But he was very determined and bought markets to sell his clothes in the Saturday markets. Since 5:30am every single Saturday, James stood around under the sun all day, selling his creations.
He was considerably unpopular at the markets, but hundreds of girls all around the world were very interested when they found his clothes through blogging, that soon became much more famous than the tent and so James decided fatefully to make Black Milk exclusively into an online fashion label. “I talked to a few people in the industry who told me I was making a big mistake and that I would go broke within the month. I was told that online selling was only for companies with ‘real’ shops. But ‘real’ shops weren’t interested in my clothes, so I went online.
As it turns out, it was a very good idea. :)” Within 3 years Black Milk have gained over 15000 fan on Facebook been so huge that the team can’t keep up with the sales and a lot of “sharkies” (Black Milk fans) are getting disappointed on the low reach of the company. James is working as fast as he can with the team to improve his production. Black milk is selling products all around the world, but James himself blogged that the top countries currently buying black milk are “So what the heck… maybe we’ll just go nuts and set up a studio in the US. You only live once.
And of course, we will still have our Australian studios and they will keep expanding. Of course, it goes without saying that our strict policy about not manufacturing in the third world is not going to change any time soon. In fact… never. :)” “I don’t know what this hand signal means, but if it is something along the lines of “Guess what Black Milk did a deal with LucasArts and so the most awesome clothing ever created will be available Soon”… then it is surprisingly accurate” James is very excited that the industry grows bigger every day and very fast.
“Instead of me sewing away by myself at night, we have a fantastic team who pump out thousands of garments every month. Instead of trying to get our clothes into ‘real’ shops, we’re online and loving it. Instead of selling to a few girls at the markets, we now have a community of the most amazing girls you could hope for who are passionate about the brand. However, there are some things that haven’t changed. I still love making clothes. I still love hearing from girls who buy the clothes. I love seeing all the different ways girls style their Black Milk pieces, and I love working with all the Black Milk team.
Game Boy Print Swimsuit This swimsuit was posted by a number of fashion blogs and websites even before it was released, Black Milk ran out of stock in less than 2 days. Surprisingly a lot of males bought this piece to give it as a present. Spartan leggings Lindsay Lohan wearing Spartan Leggings from Black Milk’s liquid collection. The Muscle leggings “This is an idea that we have been thinking about for a while. A few people encouraged me to do it but I never quite got around to it. Then I got a spare afternoon one day and decided to have a good go at making it work. It worked…. perhaps a little too well!
Definitely our most ‘meaty’ design.. ” Posted in over 30 blog entries and internet articles, these leggings have been very controversial, both males and females from many countries have been purchasing them, in the other side, the comments from sharkies and teens on social networks show either that they absolutely love them or would not wear them at all. Composition: Polyester/Spandex Oscar Tusquets Blanca: architect, painter and designer Born in Barcelona-Spain in ?? 1941. Studied at the School Llotja of Barcelona and the ETSAB. In 1964 he founded the PER Studio with Lluis Clotet, in which worked regularly until 1984.
In 1987 Blanca associated with the architect John Smith and carried out projects in countries like Japan and Germany. In 1980 participated in the enlargement of the Barcelona School of Medicine and two years later in the remodelling of the “Palau de le Musica catalana” in Barcelona (which will be explained latter on). He also participated in various urban projects such as remodelling of the Convent dels Angels area or the construction of the Olympic Village, two projects in the Catalan capital. He has been awarded several times with the gold prize FAD Delta and in 1987 received the Creu de Sant Jordi.
His Italian tradition merely lies in his close cooperation with the manufacturers of products and with his close rtelationship with the technicians. At this time it was very rare for a Spanish or Italian designer to produce working drawings from their designs. Concept sketches serve only to convince the designer himself and his assistants within the studio that a design proposal is possible and to develop the main idea; but Blanca prefers to strike up face to face discussions with those responsible for manufacture and designs may be modified many times before the shape and form of the product is finalized.
Blanca believes that there are two types of technicians, “those who only see difficulties and the usually older craft-men who say ‘this may seem impossible but if I make it this way perharts it is possible’ if a designer does not propose silly things the technician will respect him, it is not possible to improvise design”. His success consists in insistent supervision, not only because he prefers to build a comfortable environment for everybody but because he believes that “if the design is a failure it is completely my fault”.
He worked for several companies a lot of them owned by personal friends, he was highly attached to the technicians “they are clever and full of suggestions rather than coercive”. But he also had his up and downs, such as the disagreement with the furniture manufacturer “knoll international” which Blanca believed was overdoing the suggestion that he submit three separate design solutions for a chair.
Blanca found the task “impossible to come up with” because he was a strongly innovative man and in Spain at the time, the market was cost effective and manufacturers believed cheaper to copy Italian and Swedish designs, finding a cheaper solution than that, required a bit more than cleverness including the fact that the manufacturing had to be as cheap as possible and he found the deal with the rest of the workers very hard to accept because it went against his principles.
Finding one solution only was hard enough. However soon enough, Spain entered the European Community and the industry around Barcelona and Valencia begun to change as imports tariffs had dropped. It was no longer cost effective, the Italian and Swedish designs were put aside because Spanish consumers could now afford the products of competitive wares which started looking for designers. Blanca had a lot of enthusiasm in trying new inventions which he would not have had the courage to try with Italian producers.
The range begun in 1984 and comprises seven different chairs. The lattest was designed for the refurbishment of Domenech I Montaners 1903 previously mentioned “Palau de le Musica Catalana” in Barcelona. It is described as an auditorium chair and much study has been applied to the acoustical problems “a good chair for a cinema is a bad chair for a conference hall” This was the final solution, designed for auditoriums. It was first used when renovating the Palau de la Musica Catalana, in Barcelona.
However this design was so successful, that if a designer saw it, would think it had been evolving and being perfectioned for years rather than the truth, a lucky clever design. Underneath each seat users find a Helmholtz resonator, which, absorbs the same amount of sound as a human body when the seat is upright. The result is little difference of reverberation no matter how many people were in the hall. This design is said to be successful because is now being used in more than 50 public halls in Spain, including the Senate.
This chair was only one of the innovative solutions that Blanca introduced to the “Palau de le Musica Catalana” that he spent six years enlarging, restoring and air conditioning. The In the first phase, which took several years to achieve, Blanca among with his co-workers, repaired the very damaged parts of the old building and equipped it with sanitary facilities, accessibility, safety and comfort features. These were of course unimaginable a hundred years earlier, but his team made it possible.
Palau de le Musica Catalana. Sketches in the process of refurbishment of Domenech I Montaners “Palau de le Musica Catalana” However the most noteworthy part of the project was to take advantage of the adjacent unfinished church part of the site, to open up the central hidden area properly and more efficiently, even though, remarkably, Domenech had bestowed on it a richness of treatment to be compared with that of the facades, thus opening up a new entrance to the Palau.
In the extension adjacent to the stage, Blanca provided services for the performers: rehearsal room, dressing rooms, library, etc In 1979, Alessandro Mendini invited eleven architects from all over the world to design a tea and coffee set: Michael Graves, Hans Hollein, Charles Jencks, Richard Meier, Paolo Portoghesi, Aldo Rossi, Stanley Tigerman, Oscar Tusquets, Robert Venturi, Kazumasa Yamashita and Mendini himself. The overall set is an exercise in micro-architecture, reflecting the various architectural styles of the day.
The outcome was presented as Tea ; Coffee Piazza and 99 sets were made in silver, bearing the monogram of each designer. According to Alessandro Mendini in the “Domus” magazine, Blanca became well known because of the design of the tea set. This product is everything but aimed at all formalistic or decorative it is in fact a detailed study of the history of the teapot, how the applied arts combine with aerodynamics to manage to resolve the problem of containing and pouring hot liquid.
He soon saw that the spout, which should emerge from the lower part of the pot – where the liquid is denser and less hot, had been gradually shortened and displaced towards the upper part of the vessel. This was because of the difficulty of making a separate piece and then soldering it to the base. As a result, many present-day teapots only have the slightest of notches in their upper rim for the liquid to be poured out through and this leads to problems with sloppy pouring and inevitable dripping.
Another problem area is the handle, there being three traditional types: the top handle – Japanese, the lateral handle – which OTB preferred for its balance and accuracy, and, the least common – the outjutting horizontal handle. OTB discovered that the handle had also been subjected to a gradual process of simplification, leading to unacceptable levels of discomfort: overheating, imbalance, insufficient surface grip area, and so on. Models of the teapot, His studio used balsa and papier Mache for model making.
For the Alessi tea set he had a wooden model made professionally because of his distance from Italy. This product is everything but aimed at all formalistic or decorative it is in fact a detailed study of the history of the teapot, how the applied arts combine with aerodynamics to manage to resolve the problem of containing and pouring hot liquid. He soon saw that the spout, which should emerge from the lower part of the pot – where the liquid is denser and less hot, had been gradually shortened and displaced towards the upper part of the vessel.
This was because of the difficulty of making a separate piece and then soldering it to the base. As a result, many present-day teapots only have the slightest of notches in their upper rim for the liquid to be poured out through and this leads to problems with sloppy pouring and inevitable dripping. Another problem area is the handle, there being three traditional types: the top handle – Japanese, the lateral handle – which OTB preferred for its balance and accuracy, and, the least common – the outjutting horizontal handle.