wavey garms: britain's most notorious streetwear site is publishing a book
Andres Branco's South East London adolescence – think Jungle raves and fresh Moschino – led him to set up Wavey Garms, the 80k strong Facebook page, which is now been immortalised in a new photography book.
"It didn't happen in a boardroom over night, it started from the working class subcultures of South London in the early 2000s. Anyways, the book will explain everything."
That's how Wavey Garms - the site and store responsible (at least, in part) for the UK's current obsession with classic designer streetwear - announced a few weeks ago that it was publishing a book, on Instagram.
It seems pretty apt that a business which started out on Facebook in 2013 - at first just a way for founder Andres Branco and his mates to trade designer clothes - should announce things on social media, rather than via a press release or official website. It's a business that's grown organically, from private Facebook groups, to an 80,000-strong online customer base, to a bricks-and-mortar shopfront in Peckham; and this new book promises to be a candid account of the South London youth culture it grew out of.
"I'm a product of South East London," says Branco. "All my tastes and influences have come from my background and experiences, and all the work I do with Wavey Garms is an extension of this. I think the book demonstrates that Wavey Garms wasn't something that was thought up overnight, it was formed organically as a result of all the stuff I've been involved in since the age of twelve - Like the graf scene, raves and street fashions.
"When I started taking photos in the early 2000s it was a way of capturing images of the graffiti-covered trains that passed through London Bridge station. I don't think Wavey Garms would have happened if I'd grown up anywhere else, to be honest."
The idea of a book has been on his 'to do' list for a couple of years now, Branco says, and he always felt the images were too meaningful just to post on Instagram and get swallowed up by the internet, forgotten as soon as the timeline refreshes. "By taking the time to curate them properly, I'm presenting a London that, for better or worse, doesn't exist any more," he says. "It's the London that shaped me and my friends, our influences, our musical tastes and our style, which ultimately became Wavey Garms."
The book - for which photography zine makers, V.BLOCC, were commissioned - is also something of a time capsule, not just for Branco and his direct circle of friends, but a world on the cusp of changing: before smartphones, social media accounts, and iTunes. "This was pre-camera phones and Instagram, remember, so most of the shots in the book were taken on disposable film cameras," he says. "It was the days of going all-city with a £1 travel card and trying not to get your Clima-Fit snatched straight off your head.
"It was before buses had CCTV, when the top deck was more like the Wild West. A time before iPods, when the tape pack reigned supreme, playing One Nation sets until the tape broke. Trying to buy spray paint in Brixton without getting robbed by older boys outside the shop. Being underage but sneaking into Jungle raves. And aspiring to be like all the certy olders who were dripping in Moschino, rocking the freshest 110s, and the fittest girls rapped around them."
Branco and his team have been very particular about what to include in the book, and even the order in which they appear. "Each image has its own story attached," he says. "For example, I love the picture of my friend posing in front of a Banksy British Rail flag he stole years ago from some exhibition in Soho. There has always been a massive beef between real graffiti writers and street artists, so this was a good trophy for him.
"There's also a photo of four of us hiding under a train on a trip to Amsterdam in around 2010. It was one of my favourite holidays I've been on, and we took our younger pal with us and he was loving life out there. For me the best thing about the photo is the Choice bag my mate's got with him. We had bare fun and this picture always reminds me of the trip.
But Branco's not just looking back: as well as growing the store, there are film projects and collaborations with brands like Nike in the pipeline. Get ready for things to get a whole lot more wavey.
Text Emma Finamore