6 Mar 2014
Patches O'Toole is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu themed merchandising company started by Australian based BJJer Aengus Ryan. Primarily stocking tattoo-themed patches for adornment on jiu jitsu uniforms, there is also a few t-shirt designs. I chatted to Aengus about the brand and what he hopes to achieve with the company.
Hi Aengus, please tell the readers about your own background in both design, fightwear and BJJ?
I'm a graphic designer by trade, working predominantly with businesses looking after all their corporate stuff. A few years back I quit my day job and went out on my own and have been working away ever since. One of my main reasons for wanting to quit my day job back then was actually so I could train more BJJ. These days I get to pick my own hours, train during the day, evening or whenever, and do my work around that, so it's pretty ideal. Forming Patches O'Toole was really a fusion of the two things I spend my time doing, a kind of logical next step for both my design work and doing something cool for Jiu Jitsu in general.
Why did you start up Patches O Toole?
I had in the past toyed with the idea of starting up a Jiu Jitsu label. Seeing a glut of brands like Tapout and that kind of stuff make me conscious of the fact that BJJ is very different than MMA (though the 2 often are paired up) and that a different look and feel is more suitable. The loud shirts, with massive print and gaudy graphics was the total opposite of what I wanted to go for. I think the skate brands influenced me quite a bit, they are far more discerning and simple.
Patches O'Toole, why that name?
A few years back I had a goldfish, that for some reason myself and my wife called Patches O'Toole (not sure why). So when it came time to name the company, that, coupled with the fact that I was producing patches, seemed like the perfect choice. It has the patches, a bit of a back story and an Irish hint, so all in all, a good fit I think.
What are your goals for the brand?
I have no huge plans to make Patches O'Toole a behemoth off grappling attire. For me, having a boutique, niche company that caters to the true fans of the sport, is far more important than being stocked in every store and website out there. Quality of designs, quality of patches, shirts and whatever else I come up with, is front and centre (we have a 3 year warranty on our patches to emphasise this) over large scale production.
How would you describe your brand 'style'?
I think the style is very laid back - if that can be used to describe a style ??? Clean designs on quality materials is what I am aiming for with Patches O'Toole. There are lots of 'Tap or Snap' type designs out there and if that's your thing that's cool, to each their own. What I am trying to create here is something a little different. It will appeal to some, not so much to others and that's the way it should be.
Did you design and draw these artworks yourself? It's a mixed bag so far. All of the designs are my ideas, who I have selected to illustrate varies depending on the job in question. I'm a big believer in using the best man/woman for the job, so if an illustrator is better at a particular style than me, I am glad to get them in on the act. There are a few things I am working on personally at the moment which might see the light of day soon.
Why focus on the old style tattoo influence?
It was one of the main ideas I had floating around in my head as I formed the company. I had a list of cool ideas I thought would work well in patch format, one of them being the old school tattoos. I knew there was nothing like it out there, so thought why not, let's see how this goes down - so far so good thankfully. Quite a few people have emailed me photos of the designs tattooed on them, which is always cool to see.
One of your patches, Man's Ruin, has courted some controversy, what was the thinking behind that design? It has had a few comments alright, though none particularly negative. Some people have commented that they would choose not to wear it in the club in case there are kids around, or kids parents maybe (the patch shows a semi naked woman with a jiu jitsu belt covering her modesty), but have bought a few for their gym bag or to sew on a jacket. The patch is a homage to the old school tattoos, based on a man's ruin design that has been around yonks. Quite a few women have bought it, so can't be all that shocking. It's more tattoo focused than anything else really.
Where can people buy your products?
If you want to buy our stuff, you can jump on our site at www.patchesotoole.com and go absolutely crazy with your credit card.
Thanks to Aengus for the interview. Also check out the Patches O'Toole Facebook page.