Big Brother Is Bringing You Split Tees, Crazy Colorways and Skate Decks
Neighborhood Watch is an up and coming brand out of Clovis, California that's taken a unique spin on "Big Brother" surveillance with its name. We spoke with the founder Kyle about his background with cut and sew that lead to his iconic split tees and hoodies, as well as his fearless ambition to bring more colorful clothing to everyones wardrobe. In addition, Kyle discussed the exclusive Neighborhood Watch skate decks he recently released as well as his plans for the brand in the future.
Where are you from from?
Kyle: I’m technically from Clovis, California but it’s basically just one of the suburbs of Fresno. It’s not bad, a lot of people try to make it out to be worse than it is. If you can get past the heat it isn’t too bad.
How’s the creative community?
Kyle: To be real there’s a few creative people here, there’s this brand called “Experiment” that does pretty well and there’s also lots of photographers. So there’s kind of a creative scene but nothing too crazy. They have ArtHop but I haven’t gone down there since it’s on the bad side of town. This girl Nina that was really good at painting moved down to LA. A lot of people that have stuff going on either move to Los Angeles or San Francisco.
When did you start Neighborhood Watch?
Kyle: It’s actually starting to reach a year. It would be a year May 20th. I definitely gotta do a drop to celebrate that.
Where did you come up with the name?
Kyle: Well I had a list of like 20 brand names that I was thinking of using. A lot of them were too simplistic, too corny or not interesting. I thought that Neighborhood Watch had a cool aesthetic. It could reference Big Brother, it could be creepy, it could be anything.
How do you feel about government surveillance?
Kyle: It’s kind of getting to the point where we can’t avoid it in terms of tech. Almost every iPhone now has facial recognition, and I saw something recently that facial recognition is now being used on flights. If there’s some way to regulate it so that it’s not giving out a shit ton of personal info I guess that would be good but in the big scheme it’s creepy as fuck. Truthfully if you have nothing to hide it’s not a big deal. I’m pretty open so it doesn’t really bug me but for people that are private about their lives I could see how it’s invasive.
What made you want to start a brand?
Kyle: I’ve always had an interest in clothing since I was a little kid. When I was younger I was picking out my outfits hella early, even if it was an event that was down the road a week in advance I’d have my outfit planned for that event. So I’ve always been into clothes like that. I was pretty big into the hypebeast stuff like Supreme from 2012 - 2015. That scene started getting played out and corny and the quality also started to diminish compared to what they started at. The ideas were getting recycled so I thought why not come out and start making some cheap clothes that I like. I started posting it on Twitter and people actually started to like it.
What’s the background on your interest in art and fashion?
Kyle: When I was younger I wanted to be a shoe designer. Originally I wanted to work for Nike and pick materials and colors for shoes. But the older I got I realized they don’t really come out with new models of shoes all that often so it seemed like a boring job. I saw that The Shoe Surgeon and John Geiger were running the game so I thought I couldn’t see myself involved in that. But I’ve always been involved in sneakers heavy and being into sneakers brought me into fashion.
You’re not afraid to sample with lots of different colorways are you?
Kyle: Definitely not, if you tell me a color you wanna see I’ll try to make a colorway with that color. I’m not afraid to use any color. A lot of brands are really just using black and white and sometimes heather. Truthfully it’s a majority of black shirts and you need to spice your closet up with some bright stuff. Even if that’s your aesthetic with dark clothing that’s cool but everyone needs something.
One of the most iconic things about NHW is your split hoodies and tees. What was the inspiration to start making those?
Kyle: Actually the original inspiration came from 2015 or 2016, it was a green and blue Off-White / Midnight Studios collab T-shirt. I remember they had that and they had a red and blue one. Yung Bans has cover art in the red and blue hoodie they made and I thought that was hella dope. I noticed nobody had been doing that in a cool minute or at least since I’d started paying attention to the underground so I was like fuckit I’m gonna make a split. When I made the split it blew up on Twitter for how big my account was.
What about cut and sew appeals to you?
Kyle: I like the idea of being able to take two separate things and put them together to make something else. It’s cool when you take two complete articles of clothing, like you could wear either shirt by themselves, but take them apart and put them back together to make a totally new shirt.
Who taught you to use a sewing machine?
Kyle: I actually learned from my Mexican grandma. She’s been the big sewer in our family since she’s lived with us our entire life. She’s done blankets and fixed shirts so I was interested in it from her. She showed me how to fix buttons and fix holes in my shirt when I was younger just to get me by so I’d have a way to fix it if she wasn’t there. But the sewing machine aspect didn’t come around until a year or two ago. I was really inspired my Imran Potato and wanted to make some fake gucci cargo pants. I practiced learning to make pants which taught me that making pants is hard and finding fabric is even harder. That fell through but I learned the skills and I’ve been learning ever since.
What are your two favorite color combinations you’ve put together on a split tee to date?
Kyle: It’s gonna have to be the most recent hot pink and yellow, or the original light pink and teal.
Do you like pink a lot?
Kyle: Shit I guess I do. I really like yellow, I have a lot of yellow in my closet. But I like pink, its bright and it stands out. I like being different and I feel like pink is the epitome of that since it’s not too common.
Who else do you think is killing it with cut and sew right now?
Kyle: Easy answer. That Kyyler kid for Sorry, he’s nuts. The stuff he’s been making is insane. He’s only made 3 or 4 pairs of pants and I’m hella salty I couldn’t cop any of his drops since I was at work. But he did 3 or 4 pants and all were fire. He also did this purple hoodie and he was the one who made the ABSENT horned mask sample. His cut and sew game is crazy. Jaden Lowe is going nuts with the shorts game.
Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?
Kyle: I try to draw it from what I see from Twitter and driving around in the streets. I try not to draw too much inspiration from other brands since it gets drawn back to “biting” but one person who has a crazy design style is Crimewave. He’ll do basic designs but the way he fills it in with diagonal lines makes it pop way more. John Sukamii is a huge inspiration, seeing him go from random brand to getting onto Young Thug to where he’s at now is crazy. And then probably Muerte.
What inspired you to recently design your first skate decks?
Kyle: I’ve always kind of liked skateboarding. I’m not gonna lie and say I’ve always skateboarded but I’ve always been intrigued by skateboarding and thought it was cool as fuck. When I was younger I couldn’t do shit. Just recently was when I learned to kickflip and heelflip. There’s a really strong skate community in Fresno but I feel like a lot of people don’t get the recognition for how good they are so I wanted to bring some sort of skate community back. I sent this place the sample and got them back and the quality was stupid nice. I just put them up on the site to see if they would sell online and they did which was crazy.
Was it difficult to source quality wood for the decks?
Kyle: That was the hard part about finding it. There were like 3 or 4 manufacturers that I talked to. All were wishy washy but these guys were on top of their shit so I thought that works.
Would you ever want to work with skaters on a NHW collab?
Kyle: There’s a few Instagram skaters that I really like. There’s this kid Ryan Mondays that’s pretty raw. Pierre Jacquez is a pro skater I’d really like to collab with, he just followed me last year. This kid Noah Han is really raw too. Hopefully if things go well in the next few months I wanna send them a care package, hopefully they fuck with it.
Are there any other designers or brands you want to collaborate with?
Kyle: I have a collab underway. I can’t talk too much about it but I’ll be posting some sneak peeks soon. But as for people I wanna work with I guess I’d wanna work with Jaden Lowe to make some shorts on a collab. Working with Muerte or Sukamii are kinda my dream ones. Just cause John and George both really got me into realizing that I can make my own clothes. Before it was all ideas, I had followed them both but I didn’t know George was making all his stuff, I thought he was outsourcing or something. When I found Sukamii I realized you really can make your own stuff if you want to.
What should we expect to see from NHW here in the near future?
Kyle: I’m planning on releasing the giant print T-shirt that I just sampled. I’m planning on releasing that sometime over the summer. I’m not gonna say too much but there’s gonna be more cut and sew pieces. I’m planning on doing an all cut and sew release but I don’t wanna talk about it too much. But definitely expect more cut and sew. Then I wanna do some crazier things with screen print instead of basic stuff and hopefully more collabs.
What are your goals for the brand to reach by the end of 2019?
Kyle: Truthfully the only goal I really have is to double what I did last year. That would make me happy. Success is subjective since one person could say Half-Evil is at the top where another could say ABSENT. My numbers matter to myself and as long as there’s some slight growth that’s great, that’s an increase. I’m not one to compete with others.
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