Local Heroes is a clothing brand founded in March 2012 by two twenty-year-olds. It was created just for fun, but everything changed when they gained a famous new customer… Justin Bieber.
A clothing brand founded in March 2012 by two twenty-year-olds.
Areta Szpura was a well-known blogger, and despite her young age, she had five years of experience working as an assistant stylist, stylist and social media specialist for Sinsey, H&M, and New Look. During maths classes she watched reports from fashion weeks, and she used to run around her school carrying bags filled with clothes. Karolina Słota studied photography at the Academy of Photography, blogged and worked for the magazine Kmag as a "party spy", taking candid photos of celebrities. They founded their brand for fun. Karolina borrowed two thousand zloty from her mother, Areta reached into her savings. They photographed themselves wearing the clothes they designed, and set off.
In the beginning, they had three designs for t-shirts and sweatshirts – fuck you you fuckin fuck; single, taken, hungry; and doing real stuff sucks. They were selling a few pieces a week. Everything changed when Justin Bieber became their client – the girls found his address on the internet and sent him a package of their clothes. He was photographed wearing their Doing Real Stuff Sucks t-shirt. Overnight, Local Heroes turned from a small, local brand (as their name suggests), into a trademark recognized across the world. Hundreds of orders came in every day. MTV and popular magazines took an interest in the girls and described them as a Polish miracle export.
The girls went on a hunt for other stars – Areta and Karolina appeared at concerts, in front of hotels housing stars, on beaches, sent packages by post and gave packages personally – and a number of celebrities appeared on Instagram wearing Local Heroes clothes, including the model Cara Delevinge, the singers Sky Ferreira, Rita Ora, and Ellie Goulding, the model Anja Rubik (1.4 thousand likes), and above all Rihanna (1.7 thousand likes). Instagram, Twitter, tumblr and Facebook are the most important tools of the Polish duo. Local Heroes has over 152 thousand likes on Facebook and over 67 thousand followers on Instagram.
They don’t like being called designers. They say that they “make clothes”. Maybe a year from now, they’ll be doing something completely different – maybe they’ll open a shop or a café. Local Heroes is chiefly a lifestyle, not a tailoring style. Their clothes are simple, even basic – t-shirts, tracksuit trousers, sweatshirts, beanie caps, backpacks, shorts, and simple dresses in the form of an elongated t-shirt. All of this is made from cotton and polyester. The slogans and patterns which Local Heroes puts on t-shirts is what differentiates this brand from H&M and Top Shop. “We are a link between the internet and chain stores” – the girls say. They know what’s fashionable on the internet before ZARA or H&M do. “We live online”. The duo’s clothes are a tumblr you can wear and a dictionary of youthful slang. As one of their t-shirt slogans puts it, “you only live online”. What is tumblresque? It’s hard to say, according them – you just have to know it. You can get an idea by browsing their Instagram photos: ice cream, coffee from Starbucks, pastel colours, ponytails, colourful breakfast cereal, jelly sweets, clouds, palm trees, tie-dye, painted nails, the 90s, pop stars, California and Disneyland.
The girls don’t consider their vision to be infantile. It’s an alternative world – an alternative to a reality which is mundane and offers work from 9 to 5. A grown-up can still be a kid – suggest the creators of Local Heroes, who also warn – don’t grow up, it’s a trap. They don’t want to follow trends – instead they humorously comment on them, like they did when they created the t-shirt with the sign “expensive shit” and with a pattern that imitated the fabric of a supermarket bag, which appeared at many haute couture shows.
They can be nonchalant and funny, like when they were creating the plain t-shirts with the slogan “party t-shirt” or “last clean t-shirt”. They give fashion the middle finger, which, by the way, may be seen on a t-shirt they created in collaboration with the artist Robert Kuta, the designer of their logo. The duo doesn’t want to dress the fashionable, instead, Areta and Karolina want to dress those who are bold enough to create their own image. The girls find inspiration in pop idols who are a symbol of cheesiness to the previous generations – Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber. The Polish duo considers these celebrities new icons that set the tone of our times.
They don’t focus on dressing Polish stars, even though such Polish celebrities as Olga Bołądź, Margaret, and Marina eagerly wear Local Heroes clothes. Areta and Karolina admit:
We accidentally opened a door leading from Poland to foreign countries. Before that, the Great Wall surrounded everything. We showed that you can do better and go farther. Others believed us. If two teenagers made it, why can’t you?
Author: Karolina Sulej, September 2014