Heavy Gems Reimagined: A Conversation with Micheal Heaton (Represent Clothing)

A look inside the British brand's collaboration with metal's great icons.


From the illustrious album covers to the stage presence and bold merchandise graphics, metal stands as one of music's most visual genres. Those who had the opportunity of basking in the glory days of Britain's heavy metal prime will very likely remember their initial reaction to gazing at covers for ANGEL WITCH, IRON MAIDEN, or DIAMOND HEAD records, the likes of which remain astounding to this day. These covers and the tour shirts that came from it shaped a generation of listeners from across the world, leaving behind a mark that many would soon follow. Among those who harness from decades past is Represent Clothing, a British luxury streetwear brand with garments and designs that resemble that of metal's golden era. Represent, which consists of brothers George and Michael Heaton, has seen continuous growth by catching the eyes of thousands, including a very special set of camps for an upcoming collaboration.


To breathe new life into the legendary artwork of Boris Vallejo and Joe Petagno, Represent have partnered with OZZY OSBOURNE and MOTÖRHEAD for their Monsters of Rep collection, a collection that finds the British duo reimagining timeless album covers on uniquely distressed t-shirts with a vintage grey wash and delicately hand-cut prints. The shirts, which are limited to 2,000 pieces, have an extreme attention to detail that does right The Ultimate Sin (1986) and Rock 'n' Roll (1987) in embodying the bravado of each full-length.


We talk to Represent's designer Michael Heaton about it all:

Being a British brand, working with the Ozzy Osbourne and Motorhead camps for a Represent collection is of obvious significance to you. What was your initial reaction upon being presented with the opportunity?


Heaton: These are two of the biggest British bands in this genre of music that have had so much influence on my style of artwork and aesthetic over the years. They’ve inspired a lot of my designs, so It made so much sense to me. To be given a chance to work on something with them was a feeling of everything coming full circle.


Definitely. Jumping into the Ozzy shirt, Boris Vallejo’s painting for ‘Ultimate Sin’ is by far one of the most iconic covers of all time, transcending eras and truly bringing many to check out the record. Was this a no-brainer for you as far as choosing an Ozzy cover to reinterpret for the shirt?


Heaton: I love Boris Vallejo’s work and would love to work on something with him, he’s up there with the best. Not only that, but this is my favorite Ozzy song; on top of that the album cover is my all time favourite, so I guess you could call it a no-brainer.

Cover art by Boris Vallejo

Joe Petagno’s cover of 'Rock ‘n’ Roll' is another one of those paintings that is forever ingrained within the DNA of heavy metal. What inspired this selection?


Heaton: This piece of artwork is incredible, it’s always been ingrained in my mind since the moment I saw it. In my opinion, it’s the best representation of the Warpig; loud and in your face. From collecting vintage over the years, I’ve built up a checklist of things to look for and this for me ticks all those boxes for the perfect vintage graphic, just the colour alone.

Cover art by Joe Petagno

For those unaware, each shirt comes with a numbered tour pass-esque certificate of authenticity, which is a neat detail to add to an already great t-shirt package. About how long did the design process take from inception to completion?


Heaton: It took around a month from inception to signing the designs off, something I thought would have taken a lot longer but both camps loved the designs from the get-go and were super easy to work with and understood the vision.

Included with each purchase

Were you allowed free reign in terms of approaching the collaboration from Represent’s perspective or did you meet a common goal with their respective camps from the beginning?


Heaton: There weren't really any rules with this collaboration. I got given access to the archives; which is an incredible thing in itself. I didn’t want this to just be a re-print type of deal you typically see brands do. I wanted to put my own touch on it to make it more exclusive to us. I wanted our name on there as well, but done tastefully, recreated in their style so it looked like it was done at the same time. I wanted to upraise ‘The Ultimate Sin’ with an exclusive colorway combined with an all-over lightening backdrop. The more changes I was making the harder I knew it was going to be to pass management; but when we got the go ahead, I was thrilled. I’ve not seen anything with a brand/band collaboration create this detail of combination before.


It’s hard to gauge the demographics and interests of the brand’s following, but for those unfamiliar with the significance of the Ozzy and Lemmy records, you’re introducing them to a significant moment in metal’s rich history. From a creative standpoint, what did you aim to achieve with the shirts, aside from them just being another piece of clothing?

Heaton: Whether it has some significance or brings more awareness to the demographic about how important these bands were, that’s great. This collaboration tells the story of where a lot of our brands DNA comes from and they’ll be able to look at the garments and see an elevated continuation of the who we are. On top of everything, I just wanted to recreate that moment for the kid that discovers the ultimate vintage band t-shirt.


As you’ve mentioned on social media before, album covers had a significant role in guiding your creative output. Are there any album covers in particular that did so?


Heaton: 'Cross Purposes' (1994) by Black Sabbath was the first one that started it all. The woman on the front with her flamed wings inspired our angel graphic.

Cover art by Melodie Hampson
Shirt design by Michael Heaton

This is all of course a testament to the notable growth that Represent has made as a brand over the years. With you and your brother George having built yourselves a creative force, where do you see Represent now compared to when it all began?


Heaton: As we’ve matured & progressed over the years continuing making garments that we want to wear, the brand's aesthetic has become very apparent and this has opened the doors of interest from outside the box to collaborate with others.


Vintage shirts are seeing a resurgence with a plethora of shops rising to curate a nice selection of tees from across the musical, film, and television spectrum. Though some see it as merely a fashion choice, these shirts play a role in introducing these iconic acts to a new generation. With this Ozzy and Motorhead collaboration, you’re introducing what you refer to as the ‘new vintage’. What can you comment about this newfound appreciation for old gems?


Heaton: I think from our past experiences collecting vintage, it comes with a number of frustrations. You might find what you think is the holy grail of a vintage t-shirt in terms of the graphic and wash but it can be let down by something so much as a neck hole, stain, or fit. When we refer to the ‘new vintage’, we’re preventing those issues whilst maintaining the vintage essence.


In closing, any details about the surprise that you’ll be giving away for the first 100 who purchase the shirts?


Heaton: Both of these bands were also best friends that featured on each other’s songs. We’re going to celebrate that by doing something together. That’s all I’m saying.

Represent's Monsters of Rep collection arrives on Wednesday, September 23rd via the shop's webstore HERE. Be sure to act fast because these won't last! And stay tuned because we'll be talking to George once more for a thrash laden effort that Represent has in store...


Contact

Quick Links