Chris Gibbs talks Tuesday Girlfriend with Complex

Tuesday Girlfriend’s positive message is changing the way we rock graphic tees

Heres what Complex had to say:

WORDS BY COMPLEX AND CAMERON WOLF

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The most important brand in streetwear, Supreme, gave away a fortune cookie with a message inside that read “Fuck Bitches, Get Money” Thursday. This is emblematic of the way many streetwear companies go about their business: brash, aggressive, and quote-unquote edgy. Tuesday Girlfriend, a new brand out of Los Angeles, is turning that notion on its head.

“A lot of streetwear is very aggressive and kind of literally street and this was kind of the opposite of that, which I really liked,” Union Los Angeles owner Chris Gibbs tells Complex. “A breath of fresh air. Not to say that aggressive is bad—I love a T-shirt that says ‘Fuck You’ just as much as the next guy—but it’s a nice change from the norm.” Where many streetwear brands, as Gibbs says, are throwing “Fuck You” on a T-shirt, Tuesday Girlfriend prints a tote bag with the phrase “A Lover’s Delight” and brightly colored tees read “Doin It!!!” with three more exclamation points than any other streetwear brand would dare to print on its items.

It’s a necessary drop of optimism in an industry that can otherwise become way too preoccupied with treating its customers like shit as a branding tactic.

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“Fun” is essential to the DNA of Tuesday Girlfriend; the brand’s founder Darren Vongphakdy says Tyler, the Creator’s Golf Wang brand is an inspiration to him. Not only does Golf Wang use similarly vibrant colors in its collection, but Vongphakdy says the rapper-designer reminds him to not take it too seriously. “Working with Tyler reminds me to have fun, give everything 100%, and that there are no rules to anything,” he tells Complex.

Vongphakdy started this no-rules lifestyle in 2014, when he founded Tuesday Girlfriend shortly after moving from San Diego to Los Angeles. Vongphakdy was attending community college in San Diego and planned to continue his education when he got to L.A. Instead, he says he started working “shitty retail jobs” and creating graphics just for the hell of it. “I felt stuck in my creative boundaries and wanted to work on an actual project.” That “actual project” was initially just going to be a tote bag company, but lucky for us, Vongphakdy’s business partner Alex Kim talked him out of it. “[He] allowed me to see a bigger picture,” Vongphakdy says.

Tuesday Girlfriend started off with tees, and Union Los Angeles was in on the very first season. “We really liked that it seemed to be a really organic and unique point of view from a streetwear brand that we didn’t really have represented in our store at the time,” Gibbs says. To this day, the description for Tuesday Girlfriend on Union’s site reads: “This is one of our most newest, most favoritist, super freshiest streetwear brands in our roster.”

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Gibbs was introduced to his most favoritist brand through artist Julian Klincewicz, who met Vongphakdy through a mutual friend. Klincewicz works closely with Union and has collaborated with brands like Gosha Rubchinskiy and Vans in the past and wanted to use a collage Vongphakdy had made as a patch on a piece of clothing. “[That] sparked the idea in my head of making clothes,” Vongphakdy said.

Vongphakdy has continued to catch people’s eyes with his unique graphics ever since. “The meaning behind the graphics are mostly personal to me and how I grew up,” Vongphakdy says. “I used to dance on a team, and that allowed me to appreciate music production more by translating each note or beat to how you feel, by a movement in your body. A lot of the references come from music that I like or that my friends would put me onto, whether it be an album I love or a song I can’t take off repeat.”

Gibbs says that while the graphics may be the hook-line-sinker, the bait is the bright colorways Tuesday Girlfriend uses. The brand prints its T-shirts in light and pretty shades of blue, green and purple as well as bright coral. “I would say people are really gravitating [to Tuesday Girlfriend],” Gibbs says. “I would think the color is what catches them first, because they always do some really fun colors. People are coming in and being like, ‘Oh, wow, who makes this?’” It also doesn’t hurt that the laid-back Los Angeles aesthetic is trending big time in fashion. “They always do a great job with their colorways,” Gibbs says. “There are always some fresh and fun colors which was definitely a Cali thing.”

Getting customers to notice your brand is no small feat in this day and age, and Tuesday Girlfriend’s ability to do just that is proof that Vongphakdy is onto something. “Largely speaking, customers come in and they know what they want,” Gibbs says. “They want brand X or they want look Y, so I love when someone who is coming in for brand X or look Y, picks up Tuesday Girlfriend not expecting to come in to buy that, and buys it. It’s been a lot of add-on sales.”

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Gibbs also says that Tuesday Girlfriend has evolved in all the right ways, noting that sometimes he gets excited about a brand’s first season, but then subsequent releases don’t go in the right direction—like if a promising Bulbasaur evolved into a Weepingbell. In just its second season, though, Tuesday Girlfriend introduced cut and sew and unveiled its best piece to date. The floral embroidered button-up (pictured above) is a favorite of ours, the Union staff, and customers. Gibbs says the item has already sold out twice at Union. But don’t worry if you’re just hearing about the brand now because Tuesday Girlfriend is bringing it back in white.

It’s a return to Vongphakdy’s dancing days, and once again he’s hitting all the right notes. In the future, Vongphakdy says he’d liked to put on DIY concerts, like the ones he used to attend in high school. “Putting something on where people can have fun, dance, and just be themselves without worrying about being cool would be exciting,” he says. If the word “fun” keeps coming up, it might be because it’s exactly the shot in the arm streetwear needs.