Friends of Slash: Streetwear firm Disturbia grows sales 20% in a year

A streetwear brand worn by celebrities including guitarist Slash, Axl Role and The Prodigy is poised for global expansion

Frank Major, founder of Disturbia clothing
Frank Major, founder of Disturbia clothing

A streetwear manufacturer is primed to expand into new international markets after moving into a new base, following a 20% increase in sales bringing 2013 turnover to just under £1m.

Founded in 2003 by 30-year-old Northumbria University fashion design graduate Frank Major, Disturbia Clothing’s T-shirts and accessories are stocked by more than 150 independent boutiques and chains around the globe including North America, Australia and Japan.

With trading split between 50% wholesale and 50% online, the business now plans to expand with the opening of its first retail outlet, most likely in London.

Top guitarist Slash has been snapped wearing a Disturbia t-shirt
 

Expansion plans have already begun with a move into a new base at Newcastle’s Hoults Yard, which is twice the size of their previous property in the business park, and Major’s confidence in his business is building, thanks to music acts including Slash, Axl Rose and The Prodigy clamouring for his clothes.

The firm’s biggest foreign markets in terms of sales are the US, Germany and France but orders come in from as far afield as Israel and Japan, and with overseas demand growing Major plans to create more jobs.

Frank Major, founder of streetwear manufacturer Disturbia
Frank Major, founder of streetwear manufacturer Disturbia
 

Disturbia currently employs five full-time staff as well as an ever-growing team of independent artists and illustrators across the globe, and has plans to add two more full-time clothing designers over the next twelve months.

Having exceeded forecasts for 2013, the firm is now actioning a growth strategy which could see sales rise to £5m by the end of 2017.

Major said: “We’ve exceeded our growth forecasts for the year and now plan to expand the business by opening a store. We’ve shortlisted the first shop down to either London or Manchester and will be finalising plans at the end of this month.”

Major told how he started the business while studying at Northumbria University.

He said: “Whilst I was still at university, I cut my teeth designing for an alternative clothing label but I grew increasingly frustrated with the options that were available to me. I’ve always had a passion for textile design, and ever since I could hold a pen, I have drawn, so to combine these two passions to create a successful business has been a dream come true.”

“Our subject matter has always been left of centre, and usually focuses on the dark side of popular culture, subversive iconography, childhood nostalgia, and angry slogans, all made with a strong sense of independence, and a quintessential British punk D.I.Y ethic.”

Major said the expansion has enabled the business to offer more personalised and private services to its customer-base.

He added: “Our philosophy is ‘always different, never mainstream’ so Hoults Yard fitted the bill perfectly for us – alternative space fits the ideology of the business perfectly, creative. Despite our global expansion our headquarters will remain in the region.”

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