An Interview with Owen Parrott
We recently touched base with Gastown F.C. co-founder Owen Parrott to discuss everything about the club. Gastown, once relatively unknown, has garnered a name for itself by integrating fashion with sports culture thanks to their team of style-based individuals. The cult following has led Parrott and friends to present a collaborative collection with Reigning Champ, produce Ebbets-designed hats and play politic-free soccer games weekly. Today, you can catch the team in British Colombia, Canada working on the latest Inventory Magazine issue and playing a little soccer along the way.
Corey Kamenoff: Who are you? Introduce yourself and your brand.
Owen Parrott: I’m Owen Parrott and I started Gastown F.C. alongside my good friend and colleague Ryan Willms and our friend Miles Wishlow. We all work and spend most of our time in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood and so that’s where the name comes from. The club was started first and foremost as a team for us to play on as lots of existing ones come with some politics and/or drama, which we wanted to avoid. We’ve grown a bit since then both on the field and off and have produced some really nice wearable products based on the club in collaboration with Reigning Champ the past couple of falls. The capsule of clothing was something we wanted to do for ourselves as members the club but also thought that other people would appreciate it as well, regardless of whether or not they were fans of us, or football for that matter.
CK: Personally, what influence does the game of football play on you?
OP: It’s had a pretty big influence on me, most would say that I’ve got a passion for it, but I probably be more inclined to say it’s more like a disease. At least that’s the only explanation I can come up with as to why I wake up at 4:30am some Saturdays to watch Liverpool (the club I support) and head outside into freezing rain 3 or 4 times a week to kick a ball around… The global reach of the game nowadays is amazing as well, and it means that often I’ve got something in common with people no matter what walk of life they come from. While my interest in clothing and aesthetics didn’t come from terrace culture, that’s another side of things which is attached to the game that I can identify with and so it feels like there are quite a lot of parallels between life and football no matter where you come from or how you look at it.
CK: How did the Gastown F.C. team form through Inventory Magazine?
OP: It didn’t really start through Inventory, Ryan and I just happen to be a couple of the people behind the magazine as well. We love the game and were playing on another team but wanted to start our own club. We wanted to play a bit more competitively and at a better standard but also wanted to create something that was social and provided an outlet to do things outside of the Inventory umbrella.
CK: Can you talk about the Gastown F.C. team and playing in British Columbia, Canada? How's the team?
OP: Playing in B.C. is amazing for 8 months of the year as Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and a pretty friendly climate. The winter can get a bit rough when it’s dark at 4:00pm and pouring rain but we’re pretty used to it here. Participation in the lower mainland is really good to as there’s a strong football community here thanks to B.C. being a bit of a cultural melting pot of races and ethnicities and so football, being the global sport it is, brings everyone together. The club is doing pretty well, we recently merged with neighboring Yaletown F.C. and so we’ve got two teams now and it’s been healthy growth that feels quite natural.
CK: How did the Reigning Champ collaboration come to be?
OP: We’ve been pretty big fans of the brand since it first came out. We were wearing it to and from games a lot, as well as to the gym and as active wear in general, so when we started the club it seemed like a good fit for doing some branded gear. Teamwear these days is pretty underwhelming, it’s all still catalogue/template based and very limited in terms of options, most of which aren’t great and are generally just unappealing, so we wanted to do something different. Luckily for us Reigning Champ is a local brand and through being in Vancouver and in the industry we’ve become friends with the people there and so we approached them with the idea and thankfully they liked the idea and were into it as well.
CK: Can you discuss pairing sports with fashion on creating the pieces?
OP: What we’re doing with the capsule collection isn’t really fashion. Fleece was basically invented as athletic wear in the ‘20s instead of wool and so what Reigning Champ is at its core is just that – even if it maybe has been interpreted as more of a lifestyle brand. So the pairing feels perfectly natural as it’s clothing that can be worn as activewear but also crosses over well into lifestyle as it’s really good, well-made and comfortable clothing that looks good.
CK: Why did you guys go with such simplicity for the designs, instead of perhaps using a crest or an elaborate design used by most football clubs?
OP: That’s just it; simple to us is what looks best and is therefore the most appealing. As a member of the club, I don’t want to be wearing loud flashy clothes with elaborate designs and logos everywhere – on or off the field. It’s the same with all the pro sports teams I identify as a supporter of too; I’m not about to wear their jerseys or their teamwear in everyday life because of that. Things that are a bit subtler with a simple typographic element for example are a lot more appealing as they’re a bit more understated and can actually be worn easily with any style of outfit.
CK: What can we expect for 2013?
OP: The club will keep competing on the field with both of our teams. While we’re probably not quite ready for promotion just yet we’re still in the hunt and so we want to finish well and hopefully we can put together a good cup run. We’re hoping to continue with Reigning Champ for another capsule of things next fall too and we’ll probably work on a few other small projects like a club ‘zine and maybe some additional little things and products here and there too.