For Local Space, Home Is Where the Heart Is

Hypebeast caught up with Local Space co-founders, Ste Wing and Val Kristopher Galbo, to talk about about the inspiration behind their new imprint.

Fashion 
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Manchester-based brand Local Space is asking its community “what being local means to them.”

In a cultural melting pot like Manchester, new styles and trends are often introduced to the city and rapidly adopted by locals. Ste Wing and Val Kristopher Galbo’s new imprint, Local Space, is looking to be the next big thing on the scene, aiming to unite a new wave of fashion-forward Mancunians.

Founded five months ago, Local Space was born after Wing and Galbo spotted a gap in the market for an imprint built on a foundation of storytelling and togetherness. Through experience and intense research into “what makes a brand iconic,” Local Space has curated a look that not only brings something fresh to the fashion industry but also nods to some of the world’s most iconic brands – such as Michell and Ness and BMW – that have lost favour with today’s Gen-Z market.

While the brand is a new kid on the block, the imprint’s foundations and planning are built on nothing but experience.

Val Kristopher studied fashion design at Salford University, where his post-graduation and self-named imprint emerged as one of the most exciting labels in the country, with Kristopher utilizing his skills in cut and sew to create avant-garde pieces, unveiling everything from paint-splattered denim jackets to distressed jersey and more.

Ste Wing is one of Manchester’s creative hyphenates. Often seen navigating around the red bricks of the city — whether you see him IRL or via his mural located at Stevenson Square – the creative director, footwear collector, fashion stylist and barber has worked on all corners of the world – yet Manchester is the place he will always call home.

“Being a local, one of the conversations – as a Manc – you say: ‘Are you local?’” Wing tells Hypebeast while sipping orange juice on a rare sunny day in Manchester. “We want people to ask themselves about what it means to be local – that doesn’t have to be specific to just Manchester, everyone is local to somewhere.” Being proud of who you are and where you come from is everything that Local Space stands for.

Ahead of the release of Local Space’s next drop and its corresponding pop-up in the center of Manchester this weekend, Hypebeast spoke with its founders to find out everything about Local Space’s creative process, what they want to achieve, and why integrity is everything.

How much have your past experiences in the creative and fashion industries helped you both in the creation of Local Space?

Ste Wing: I think it comes down to this: even if people didn’t know who was behind the brand, I think our experiences and the depth of things we’ve already done in the industry mean that the growth of the brand has come as expected. People know about the things that myself and Val have done over the years, whether that’s in Manchester or Tokyo, Europe, LA, or New York City.

If you have followed our journey and are continuing to follow the journey of Local Space, you will see that the visuals and the models are extremely diverse and of all ages – this has come through our experience, meeting new people, immersing ourselves in new cultures all over the world. We want people who look like them — of all ages, genders, nationalities, and races – who will want to wear a product that looks good and represents what’s local to them.

“My golden, VVS diamond chain, is Local Space. I’m not making the money to buy the chain for people to respect me, I’m creating the products as my Cuban chain for people to respect.”

How have you been able to find the balance of encapsulating Manchester as a city while also showing respect to the other places you’ve traveled to over the years?

Val: Well, if you look at the background of Ste, he’s done a lot, and my background, it was straight-up high-end fashion – I was always in Paris and Italy. We come from different backgrounds in that sense. We live in a social-first world. Everything is accessible from all corners of the world, so we often go back to basics. We look at how brands did things in the ‘80s and ‘90s when there was no such thing as social media. Back then, you would have more respect for someone targeting locally as opposed to socially.

With my previous project, people thought I came straight from New York as I was doing denim. But, with Local Space, we want to be original, while highlighting who we are: two local lads from Manchester.

Ste: As a Manc, you’re always saying, “Are you local?” – and that’s the name of the pop-up this weekend. We want people to ask themselves about what it means to be local – that doesn’t have to be specific to just Manchester; everyone is local to somewhere. We want people to be think about their roots and be proud of them. We’re in an internet-driven world, I’m one click away from Tokyo or LA, so we made the brand to represent a thought: “what is really local to you?”

 

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How important is it to have a brand message when starting up something new?

Val: I’ll tell you this way: if you have to rely on gimmicks to sell your products, then your brand statement isn’t good enough. We don’t want to just run a business to make quick money. Instead of doing that, we are focusing on one thing and one thing only: the brand.

We want that to speak for itself and see how it goes. If stuff sells out, then it does. We would rather keep our integrity than use these gimmicks, as it would dilute our focus away from what we want to do. We’re too old for that. I get it when you’re younger and you want to make as much money as quickly as possible, but now, we want to present the brand as part of our legacy.

Ste: As Val said, it’s not for the quick cheque. Between both of us, we could do something for a quick cheque with our eyes closed, that’s obvious. We consult with other brands on how you can sell a product. But with this project, it’s not a quick thing – we see the legs on it. We know which way we want to go with it – and by focusing on the brand story, it shows through everything we do. It’s not just a random thing, it all makes sense.

How do you think you’re going to expand your market out of Manchester?

Val: If you look at the biggest sports brands in the world, such as the Yankees and the Lakers, you wear them because they’ve done something iconic. They did something in the sport that not a lot of teams have done. So we thought about how we could represent the cities that we’re from – in this case, Manchester – and make it an iconic look for everyone to see. Let’s say, if we ever did a pop-up in Nottingham, they’re going to look at the city of Manchester and realize that we’re the kind of people that are from the city and it’s not just the football teams that people look for in Manchester.

The main point of that is making sure that we have an extra story of representing where we’re from that is going to appeal to others from outside of the city – obviously, you need to think of specific colors, but certain colors represent a place. For example, The Yankees are either black or navy, Dodgers are blue… So, when we go to Manchester, it’s yellow. It’s about encapsulating the people from a specific city with a certain color.

“We need to make sure our design resonates with people in the UK, Africa, Australia, and all over the world… and you can only achieve that if you’re willing to learn.”

From creative direction to tattoo design to clothing – you’re one of the most multifaceted creatives in Manchester, Ste. How are you able to balance all of these different things to ensure there’s enough time to focus on Local Space?

Ste: I show the graft and I show the journey and I do work a lot. I project manage my own time. I do have the same time as everyone else in the day, and I manage my own time, and my projects, I don’t take on too much at a time. I’ve done that for the last 10 years now. Local Space is now my priority. Obviously, the excitement pushes where your focus goes, but working with Val on this, we complement what we bring to the table and the experience of both being good at a lot of aspects, but we’re both willing to learn from each other – and I love learning.

It’s great that you can openly say, as a very experienced creative, that you’re still willing to listen and learn every day.

Ste: I know how fast everything can change. If my finger isn’t on the pulse then it could go by me. But, because I work in the industry, I’ve got to be willing to learn all the time. Designs, trends, new designers coming in, everything is changing.

Because we see so many brands come up on social media, we’re taking inspiration from what we see daily, but it’s knowing how to implement it in a way that works for us. We need to make sure our design resonates with people in the UK, Africa, Filipines, and all over the world… and you can only achieve that if you’re willing to learn. It definitely comes with age, look at the youth coming through and see what they’re doing. Some of the things that these kids are doing, we might not have ever experienced – so it’s the case of always being able to push egos to the side and making sure we take inspiration from everything.

 

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A lot of designers around the world say that designing the most simple accessories and garments is the most difficult to create. Would you agree?

Val: My background is in fashion, ever since the age of 12. I studied fashion design at university and then went on to create my own brand in the avant-garde space. It’s a lot easier to do that because you can put a crack here, a rip there, you’re almost throwing whatever you’ve got in your head on there. But, when you’re creating this, you think how can I make this cap stand out, represent us, represent the people, and also stand the test of time?

Anything that has cut and sew, it’s dependent on the product itself, but with something so simple, you’re thinking: how do you market it? We think about that process before we even think about a logo or a color. The conversations have to be had, and it’s a big process. It’s less design work, but more leg work to be able to design something so simple.

Ste: Again, I think it all comes down to experience and a willingness to learn. We’re not saying we plucked this thing out of thin air and there’s your product. We’re saying that we know what the product is, we know it’s clean, and people can see that we’ve done our due diligence in the industry to be able to design something so clean and timeless.

Have you come across anyone in the past who has given you a nugget of advice that has stuck with you throughout your career?

Val:  My main inspiration was always Margiela, from where he started making a jacket out of gloves. I’ve also met a lot of people in the industry who are from completely different spaces. I remember coming in contact with Ronnie [Fieg] – and look what he’s done, I respect that. I’ve been in contact with Amiri and he was telling me how he started, by using wholesale as leverage for the brand. Kim Jones invited me over to his show when he debuted for Dior… So, seeing all of these incredible people opens your eyes and it makes you realize that there’s not one way of doing something. 3

Both myself and Ste have those backgrounds, not to the same level, but we’ve experienced all of these things. We understand the culture, how to curate collections, and we understand how business works. It’s now the case of picking what we want to work with and how. I don’t want to necessarily work hard, I want to work smart 24/7 on something that comes naturally to me.

“Everything is so fast, if you blink, you’ll miss it. So, my nugget is always willing to learn and be a sponge.

Are you planning on expanding on your collections going forward?

Ste: The cap market has brands that are known as the cap brand. But as consumers before designers, we realize that these cap brands have lasted a long time. It’s got to the point that we want to see something new and not even necessarily from them. For us, people who look at brands and storytelling, we want to fill that gap.

We’re not entering a space that we’re not familiar with, either. For me, I always tend to put my consumer head on first, we saw a space in the market, we put our heads together, and created something that we think is quality and it’s already been received by the consumers and platforms. And now, we’re five months in, and with social media, we see who follows us and we see a lot of respectable names, brands, designers, pattern cutters, production companies, filmmakers… I find it really interesting as they obviously like what we’re doing and it’s that nod from industry people that I respect.

I don’t need any validation, but it’s just good to know that people are following us because they like what we’re doing. It goes around in circles, if other brands can take inspiration from us, then so be it, it’s only a good thing.

Val: The good thing about that as well is that you can’t even pinpoint the demographic. The only thing we can really see is the age of the people following us. This is what we wanted, we’re not a fashion brand that can only be worn by certain people, you can wear our designs with whatever you want. At the end of the day, we wanted to be a modern-day Mitchell and Ness but with a sprinkle of storytelling. We’ve been eyeing all these iconic brands, that nobody – especially the youth these days – see as iconic anymore, and we’re taking those inspirations and making them relevant today.

Are you looking to create your own era and period that is dedicated to Local Space?

Val: It’s definitely a goal for us. When you pigeonhole yourself, you leave yourself not enough space for creativity. Especially with our backgrounds – that come from everywhere – when you have a brand that is one-directional, you find yourself not being able to do something as it’s not a part of the brand’s identity. Whereas with this, we can stick whatever the hell we want in there if we feel like it.

 

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Do you have any advice for younger designers that are coming up that may not have the same level of experience as you?

Ste: I feel like these questions could always lead to a cliche. But, really, it’s about never stopping learning, no matter how far you’ve come or the things you’ve already achieved. Everything is so fast, if you blink, you’ll miss it. Be selective with who you’re sponging off as well, there’s so much information out there, that you can get lost in it. But, always learn.

Val: My advice would be for the ones whose brand starts to get traction. When brand owners get to that stage, they stop consuming when they don’t know enough about what’s around them, in terms of what other companies are doing. I stopped consuming during COVID and that was the worst time I’ve ever had when I was creating designs. They had no depth to them. What makes streetwear and fashion right now is consuming what’s going on, what’s happened in the past, and working out what’s going to happen in the future. Look at Kim Jones, there was a video about Virgil Abloh stealing his magazines in Japan…

You’ve got to invest in the consumption part of life. If you don’t understand why Cartier is Cartier, why Louis Vuitton is Louis Vuitton, and why BMW is BMW, you’re losing the fact of why these brands have depth. When I want a watch, I need to know what movement is there. When I get a car, I need to know what engine it has – I need to know every single detail. This will relay into every new product that you create.

In a short sentence, what do you want to achieve with Local Space?

Val: I want Local Space to be my Cuban chain!

Ste: Local Space is here to show how persistence, ongoing learning, and hard work can be achieved. You’re putting all of this into a space that is so fast – but the brand is here to inspire people that through hard work, anything is possible.

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