Havana Club Presents Image Gang's Cultural Story

Havana Club Presents Image Gang's Cultural Story

A look at their new multi-platform project...

Founded in 1934 as a small, family owned business, Havana Club has long held ties to Cuban street culture, and even since nationalisation in 1959, the brand has retained its sense of identity amid international adventures.

Celebrating an ever growing following over in the UK, Havana Club is integrating itself into the British underground scene with their 'Cultural Story' initiative', a platform supporting young artists and designers.

With recent projects alongside rapper Skinny Malone, designer Mia Joseph and vital club force Rilla, Havana Club presents their latest offerings in partnership with the mighty London based jewellery brand Image Gang.

We sat down with Image Gang's Isabelle White to discuss how music and the women in her life have influenced her brand, and what's next for Image Gang. Check out our interview and Havana Club's docu-short on the brand below.

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What inspired the 'Babygirl' necklace?

It was actually a song I used to bang when I was a teenager - Trey Songz 'Can't Help But Wait'.

There's a line in the chorus "Can't help but wait. Till you, see you, for what you really are. Babygirl you're a star".

How has growing up in South London influenced your style?

I actually grew up in South London and then Essex, and then actually moved to Nottingham when I was 18, and then back to South London.

So I've had influences from all over, but one thing I found no matter where I was, was those groups of girls (myself included) who would be covered in gold. The big hold hoops, Clown necklackes and a bunch of rings. 

I remember being in high school and going to the market to get £2.00 gold hoops, and we would paint them with nail varnish so they wouldn't fade as quick and turn you green.

The jewellery section in the Argos catalogue was like my Bible. I would sit in the living room and fold down the pages of the rings and chains I wanted.

My dad would always send me gold jewellery as a baby from Senegal so I've always been about this gold life.

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What sort of visual references did you draw on when initially designing for Image Gang?

So when I first started I actually found a guy on Ebay selling every issue of the Argos catalogue from 1990 to 2000 on CD.

So I bought it and just studied it, picking out things that I loved growing up and also things I could rework for a more contemporary look.

There are clear hip-hop references in your pieces, how does music tie into your brand?

I wouldn't neccesarily say it's exclusively hip hop influenced but I would go home everyday after school and sit in my mum's room watching MTV Base until she got home.

So I think music videos of the late 90's and early 00's have definitely had an influence on me.

The style of artists like TLC, Missy Elliot, JLO, Aaliyah etc.

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How have the women in your life impacted you and where you are today?

Growing up my mum was a single stay at home mum and we literally had no money.

We had to leave South London to go and live with my grandparents so I know it was hard for her, but when I was 11 she went to university to get her degree and become a social worker.

During this time though she was actually diagnosed with breast cancer and actually died about a year after graduating.

But seeing her make the decision to change her life (and mine) and put in the work to do that despite going through chemo has been so inspiring and instrumental in who I am as a person.

It also showed me that tomorrow isn't promised so if you want to do something you just have to go for it, be brave.

After my mum died (I was 15) my grandparents raised me and I became super close to my grandma who always supported me in whatever I wanted to do. 

So I think freedom to explore lots of different careers helped me land where I am now.

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Who are your biggest female style icons?

I love early 00's JLO, she was such a vibe.

I feel like my friends are my biggest style icons nowadays tbh. 

My friend Alize Demange is a sick stylist and she always comes with fire fits.

I love JGrrey's style as well.

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What made you move into menswear with Club Row?

I just saw it as a new challenge and wasn't really impressed with the mens brands I was seeing at a mid-range price point.

They're so hyper masculine and just muscly guys with their shirts off and I knew that wouldn't appeal to any of my male friends.

How does your design process differ in designing for men as opposed to women?

So when I started I was just doing it myself but we're actually relaunching it this year and I'm working with two other guys now who have a lot of input on the designs.

As I think having a male perspective is super important.

Tell us about your partenrship with Havana Club?

Obviously with Image Gang I've been inspired by looking back at styles and trends of the past so it's been great working with a brand with such a stronge heritage like Havana... and who doesn't like rum?!

I love how Havana Club champion the stories of smaller brands and artists and help shine a light on new talent.

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What can we expect from Image Gang for 2020?

So this year I am launching a new platform through Image Gang called 'A Seat At The Table' with the goal of creating content and events to help inspire, support and partner with young women in their careers, business and just life in general.

I've spent nearly 3 years building up an audience of 87k young girls on Instagram and I want to be able to give practical advice and give them things they can actually take away and use in real life.

The first event we're planning will be a dinner and a session on writing a business plan.

Everyone will be given a physical template to complete that they can take away with them to implement.

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Director: Louis Lincoln 

DOP: Billy Kendall

Steady Camera Operator: Jed Darlington-Roberts

Producer: Ayshe Zaifolgu

Photographer: Ayshe Zaifolgu

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Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.


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