Shark Week began life in 2013 when New Zealand based designer Tom Wright was brainstorming potential brand names and made a t-shirt with ‘Shark Week’ splashed across the front. Unexpectedly the name stuck and the Shark Week brand was born. After a move to the windy city of Wellington in 2014, and a series of chance encounters with people who would become core members of the Shark Week team, the brand started to gain some serious traction. Good as Gold, a retail store that’s long been a bastion of the streetwear scene in New Zealand, began stocking their long sleeve printed tops, and before long everyone from fashion girls and guys, skaters, in the know parents, and pretty much everyone in between could be seen wearing their designs.
What began as a one-man project quickly became something akin to a collective, with Tom’s friends and housemates all adding their ideas and expertise to the brand. Today Shark Week is comprised of Tom, art director Logan Smith, store co-owner Nick Mason, and a variety of creatives that make up the other arms of the Shark Week brand, SW Solutions and SW Entertainment. The last three years has seen Shark Week establish itself as a well-known and instantly recognisable brand in New Zealand. Their designs have since been picked up by skate stores around the world—a testament to the appeal of their product.
The close connection Shark Week has with the skate scene in Wellington and abroad gives the impression that their designs are perhaps made with this market in mind, but according to Tom this is not the case. “We never sit down and specifically say we want to make this or make that for the skate market or any markets, we just mainly make what we want to wear.” It’s this DIY, ‘me and my mates’ approach that undoubtedly makes the label stand out in a world saturated with streetwear labels. He taps friends like Wellington-based rapper Beach Boy and local skaters to star in campaigns, regularly hosts second-hand clothing sales at their Wellington store, and the SW Entertainment arm of the brand puts together tours and parties that their musically and creatively inclined friends attend and perform at. For Tom, hosting these events is all a part of his drive to “…make cool shit happen,” and the way people have gathered around the Shark Week brand is a testament to his success in this regard. “Our team has naturally come together from all over the place which is crazy, I didn’t know any of them five years ago. I just feel so blessed that we all crossed paths and are doing what we are doing,” he says.
The collaborative component of the Shark Week brand is perhaps most evident through their support of artists like rappers Beach Boy and Pillow T. In both these artist’s music videos, friends and employees of the brand are seen decked out in Shark Week designs, forming a somewhat ironic version of a hype crew. From an outsider’s perspective, the cultivation of this creative collective seems to be a strong focus for the brand, but Tom insists it’s all much more organic and coincidental then that. “We’re all on this crazy wave together because we all have the same vision, the same goals, and the same hustle. To have this amount of talent around you most days is pretty damn inspiring.” While it’s clear that the success of the brand can be attributed to that magic combination of hustle and talent, Shark Week—much like Tom—doesn’t take things too seriously. His relaxed, knowingly humorous vibe is always reflected in their designs: flames, sharks, cars, and cartoon like drawings and fonts scrawled haphazardly across hoodies, tees, and long sleeves.
Next up for the brand is the Scuse Me Tour #2, a tour hosting a selection of up and coming New Zealand artists like KVKA, Beach Boy, Name UL, Passed Curfew, and Pillow T. According to Tom it’ll be, “the best tour in NZ pretty much.” New Zealand might be a small and faraway place to much of the world but it’s brands like Shark Week, building a label that supports young creatives and embodying the lifestyle that goes with it, that highlights just how ahead of the game it can be.
- By: Cait Emma Burke