Parlayin with Matt Thomas (HAL)

April 21, 2011

Passion always prevails over all and we recently got a chance to sit down with Matt Thomas from HAL to talk about how his passion for retail, street wear and the hiphop culture that helped him get to where he is today.

Hey Matt … What’s happenin’ over in the West? ya’ good?
All good on the Western front. Anticipating the release of our New Balance colabs and working on a few extracurricular endeavours as we speak.

HAL has been killin’ it over in the West for a minute now, for those who aren’t aware of what you do, can you please enlighten us?
We sell clothes and sneakers to people that like clothes and sneakers. Always trying to promote people doing positive things in our city, and have our voice heard.

Starting a retail space is no joke, what inspired you to open HAL and the motivation that kept you goin’ till today?
Just a love of sneakers and hip-hop culture. There wasn’t really a space promoting the sneaker culture over here so we took it upon ourselves to share it with people that might not have had access to it prior. Seeing kids and grown folk alike embracing that and walking out in some new heat with a smile on their face serves as great motivation.

We’ve had many interesting conversations with key players in the past about the state of retail. How, in your opinion, has retail transformed over the past 10 years? What are some of the trends that have caused this shift? And where do you think it’ll shift to?
It’s definitely changed, but that’s inevitable in our industry. The economy crisis definitely slowed things down a-lot, sadly forcing legitimately passionate people out of business and forcing everyone else to tighten their belts. The current strength of the aussie dollar and the internet is obviously having a huge effect on retail in general and I guess we rely on friendly, knowledgeable service to combat that shift.

I see that you have a few businesses under your belt and running them is no easy task for sure. What else do you run besides HAL? How do you maintain each facet of your business, whilst developing its growth simultaneously?
Aside from the shops I’m also involved in the running of two local bars one is a bar restaurant called Clarences and the other is a Nitespot call The Manor. It’s impossible to be in two places at once so to me the most important factor in the running of a business is securing a good team of people whom you can depend on when you’re not there. It can get a bit tiring running around making sure everything’s in order but it’s a rewarding lifestyle and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

You recently dropped the HAL x NB sneaker… care to break down the design concept behind that release?
After a-lot of brainstorming and some over complicated concepts we decided to run with something simple that everyone (especially those of us in sunny Perth) can relate to, so we made two shoes designed for the chronological processes that we are all bound to. A mellow yet eye-catching shoe for the day and a stealthy, versatile shoe for the night.

I’m sure there are plenty of projects in the pipeline for HAL in particular… Are there any of which you can reveal to all HAL fans?
Big things poppin’. Announcements coming soon…..I will let you in on one for now we have currently finished a longterm design project with Co-Lab Eyewear. That we are very proud of, this was another chance for the store to be seen as more that just a store but as a brand as well.
Apart from the colabs we have developed our own cut and sew range that will launch mid may, so that is very exciting.

In everyone’s career, there’s a humbling moment in which he/she is baffled by… when was that moment for you and why was it so humbling?
Everyday. This is the Perth way, only the humble survive.

Lets talk about the man behind HAL for a minute, being a graduate in film and theater direction, how has it influenced what you do on the daily?
Studying any form of media really opens your eyes to the subtleties of everyday life. I draw a-lot of inspiration from what I see on the screen and in the streets and try and apply these resources of identifying detail to the HAL vision.
Cinema is a great way to investigate fashion, design and architecture. It is my most relevant tool in design and reference.

I hear you’re dope on the ones and two’s, would you ever step away from the retail scene and start DJing again as a career?
I’ve done the DJ thing for a living from 18 to 28. I’ll always be passionate about music and being involved in the music scene is a major part of my life and career. We probably promote /endorse around 40 gigs a year. We currently look after two Perth artists Ta-Ku and Shazam. The store and all our endevours feeds directly from our love affair with music.
DJ wise, at the moment I’m playing once or twice a week and that’s enough for me to still enjoy it and pass on the gift of music.

Everyone has a life motto, what’s yours?
Hard work pays off, so we take no days off.

On a lighter topic… If you were a 70’s porn star, what would you alias be?
Montell Jordan

What is your favorite cartoon series while growing up?
Battle of the planets, just because.

What are you currently pumping on your stereo?
Ta-Ku everything he touches is 24Karat.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us today Matt and sharing your thoughts with everyone. We at Fat Kids wish you much success in the many years to come.

words by Benny Teh.

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