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Alana wears all clothing SCREVVFACEPhotography Ava Nirui, Alex Lee

The Canadian label challenging authority

Meet the Toronto-based SCREVVFACE, who use heavy-metal and skate aesthetics for their own brand of rebellion

2015 was a year that threw the focus on institutional misuses of power– from police brutality to government corruption. In his graphic-heavy label SCREVVFACE, Toronto-based designer Tobin Reid explores these abuses, celebrating the otherness of those who see through and rebel against them. "Some Dogs Are Cops," adorns a basic white tee, while a giant graphic of a sniper target covers the back of a army green hoodie. But it’s not all about poking fun at figures of authority – the brand also pays homage to 90s crime cinema like HEAT and creates garments that resemble hardcore and metal band merch. Here, Tobin talks t-shirt culture, the ridiculousness of authority figures, and how he's never fit into the #fashion scene in his native city. 

How did you start Screvvface and what’s your design background?

Tobin Reid: I was working at a friend’s screen printing shop in 2012 doing the odd t-shirt graphic here and there whenever an idea struck. The runs would usually be ten to twenty shirts and go out to friends and family. People started reaching out and asking where they could buy them, so I partnered up with Mike (who is an owner at the print shop) and we created SCREVVFACE together. He was taking care of all the production and fulfilment and I was doing the creative. As a kid I was always drawing and reading comic books which led to painting and graffiti. After high school, I took graphic design in college because I wanted to learn the fundamentals and dive into some design software. It seemed like the natural path to take in order keep paying the bills but remain creative.

Were you interested in fashion growing up?

Tobin Reid: Like most kids, I just liked whatever the people I looked up to were wearing. I probably wore a t-shirt on my head because of Tom Penny and some cargos because of Phil Anselmo. Band tees were always my favourite though. I had this HELMET x Birdhouse T-shirt when I was a kid that I wore until it disintegrated. I wouldn’t say I was super into fashion, but I always had a favourite shirt.

How do you gain inspiration for the graphics and words on your garments?

Tobin Reid: My city, your city, music, movies, the news, whatever. Everything I see around me and experience. SCREVVFACE is intensely personal, so everything we create is the product of something I care about. I don’t reference anything that I’m not connected to as it wouldn’t be genuine and my perspective would be irrelevant.

The brand seems to be inspired by government officials (army men, police officers), but also plays with motorcycle, gang and heavy metal culture – can you explain this contrast? 

Tobin Reid: The art that inspires me most comes from struggle, and oppressive authority is almost always a part of that. Once things get too easy people become complacent and the edge gets dull. Wow, that sounded a little over the top. I suppose it’s because most of the things I’ve loved throughout my life have been considered a nuisance to the majority. As a result, cops and other authoritative figures have always been around raining on the parade. SCREVVFACE gives me the ability to take the piss a little and knock these types down a peg.

“The art that inspires me most comes from struggle, and oppressive authority is almost always a part of that.” – Tobin Reid

How do you infuse humour into your designs?

Tobin Reid: The things I remember best either pissed me off or made me laugh. If you can combine these two things it’s probably going to be more memorable than simply writing fuck off. I also don’t like to take things too seriously. As soon as it gets too serious it becomes a "thing" and that’s trouble.

What's the fashion community like in Toronto? Do you find it limiting?

Tobin Reid: It’s probably like most other fashion communities: a little vain, a little vapid. To be completely honest though, I don’t really know. I don’t go to any fashion events really. They’re always a little too serious and I never have anything to wear. Being in Toronto isn’t limiting however, it’s a great city. I’d say the bigger hurdle is being based in Canada, as our postal system is fucking archaic and we always get nailed by duties at the border.

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

Tobin Reid: Gore-Tex. I geek out on super functional outerwear and all of the research and development that goes into it. Arc’teryx is the magnum opus outerwear company that nobody can step to, and they’re Canadian. I could never afford one as a kid, but always tripped on them. A blacked out Gore-Tex jacket with the SCREVVFACE logo and the Arcy fossils would be real nice.

What do you hope you achieve through Screvvface and what do you want to grow the brand into?

Tobin Reid: We’re just going to keep making things that get us psyched. Whatever that leads to is fine, as long as we did it our way.

Model Alana Derksen