HUMANA X NORTHSTOCK
On November 4th a mini collection with batik patterns, dyed on sweatpants and T-shirts will be released at HUMANA online. Meet the creator behind Northstock, Josh from California, who moved to north of Sweden because of the video game called Skyrim, how his love of food made him care about the nature. And about the difficulties of creating something in a world marked by climate change.
“I just want to start from the beginning because sometimes I just sit here wondering how I got here”, says Josh, when I meet him at his studio in a suburb of Stockholm. It’s a big studio complex shared by a bunch of creative people, and Josh’s room is a tiny boiler room filled with dyed T-shirts and a sewing machine. He just started a project called “Northstock” 7 months ago. A project he himself describes as an attempt to change how people think and value clothes by creating special pieces of upcycled wear full of detail. Each piece being unique, made of recycled materials, slowly made, and never made again. All to show that beautiful things don't have to be new.
“I never visited Sweden, but basically decided to move there because of a video game called Skyrim. I was obsessed with it. It was the first thing in a while that made me feel some like peace. So, I played it all the time and in the game there was a lot of snow, and one day I just found myself looking at the video game sky with all the stars and it had like the aurora lights, and the whole environment made me feel calm and I just knew I had to find a place like that.” Josh says and smiles. “I grew up in the opposite place, California, it’s just hot there all the time, it’s nice because it’s never a rainy day but you never see seasons. After 17 I was so lost, everyone was pressuring me to do things I didn’t want to do. So, I kind of needed to run away from California. I was not in a good place there. It’s super beautiful, creative, and great but coming from there I view it so differently. It was super hard imagining myself living the life I wanted to live, it just gave me really bad anxiety, and coming to Sweden in the beginning it was like, even worse. But it pushed me all the way to the bottom, and I just needed to climb my way up from that. All I knew about Umeå was that it was dark and had the northern lights, so I just picked Umeå. I ended up there.
You think the Swedish darkness is too much but still decided to move to here, and to a place way up north, Umeå to be exact!
“Yeah… I thought all of Sweden was covered in snow but since that’s not the case my Skyrim dream brought me to Umeå. I was studying at Umeå University. Back then UK was still in the EU union so that made it free for me to do my University studies in Sweden. It’s weird I ended up doing that though, growing up I hated school, hated it with a passion. I realized school was all about marks and stuff, I liked the environment in school, but it wasn’t for me. I went to school but I kind of saw it like jail in a sense, I did my time and then I could go home and play my videogames.”
Did you have a plan or a vision of what you would do in Sweden, apart from hanging in the snowy environment?
“No, I had no plan. When I was 17 I started a clothing brand back home, my ex sent me a dm and showed me other kids using something called printful. It’s like a print on demand thing, so I did that, and I really thought it was so much fun every bit of creating that project. But I ditched because well it was super bad for the environment.”
"We have it all, especially too many clothes. But we still need them, that’s how I found vintage, subconsciously because I needed clothes but I didn’t want to buy anything new."
Yeah, It sucks that the world is overly crowded with stuff!
“We have it all, especially too many clothes. But we still need them, that’s how I found vintage, subconsciously because I needed clothes but I didn’t want to buy anything new. I would spend hours finding secondhand T-shirts, I bought so many old T-shirts and they became my whole first stock for the project Northstock. Doing something with clothes was still a part of me from that 17-year-old dream. “
Umeå is a big part of the history of Northstock?
“Northstock started because of Umeå. Umeå is so great because everyone supports each other, are very open to new ideas, and I found some beautiful friends there. I had just gotten my license and enough money to buy a really shitty Toyota carina 1989 car, I loved that car to death.
One night I picked up my friend we drove towards Obbola that has a little paper factory and looked at the crazy smoke. Just standing there looking until someone working there told us to go away, haha! We just drove around and, on the way home I started talking to him about my stack of vintage T-shirts for some reason, and my friend was like you’ve been talking about this for so long you need to do it. And that’s how it started. At first we did it together. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to start it without him. For a while it was me and him versus the world. For a while it was just us grinding, I’d bring clothes to a club event he made, and we would set up a little stall with the clothes trying to sell them. That was the beginning! :)
Why do you think you care so much about the environment and how do you stay true to that feeling?
“I guess the term is that I’m very black and white, if I like something I simply do it. I will try and find like the best way to do what I love so that it’s as beneficial for everyone as it could be. But yeah, why do I care why do I love nature so much? Ironically, I think it was from school haha. We went to these amazing field trips going to local farms in California, seeing how like food was made and I felt very lucky I got taught these things. At the farm we picked our own vegetables and I used to hate salad but picking and eating them was like damn, wow! That was the first time I ever ate broccoli!” Josh laughs.
Haha you hate salad?
“I’ve never heard of someone who LOVES salad. I mean I love my junk food, and where I grew up it was such a mix of cultures like my mom is Indian but we ate food from all different like cuisines and stuff because of the community I grew up in. Everyone just made all this food. Now talking about it I kind of realize my love for nature really started with food.“
You feel like a “doer”, what inspires you to do it?
“I think it was because of the music I listened to! I picked up a lot of quotes just saying like keep on going, do your thing, “do that shit”, so I would just turn off my phone and just make whatever came to mind haha! I listened to a lot of Yung lean, Skepta, and also Playboi Carti. Yung Lean gave me some sort of belief and Playboi Carti the drive and them together pushed me forward. Skepta gave me the confidence to actually listen to myself and go for what I thought was right."
Why did you start doing tie-dye? Was it also one of your "do-that-shit" impulses?
Yeah! I started tie-dyeing by just grabbing a random shirt that my sister gave me and spraying bleach on it. That was pretty much the beginning, I just started watching videos about it and finally did that.”
How did you get in touch with HUMANA Second Hand?
“I only started doing tie-dyes and stuff a few months ago, and I got into contact with HUMANA through Erik & Nathalie. They were recording/reviewing the song "Speciellt" off of Erik's album Fricktion and Nathalie gave me the right email!"
HUMANA X Northstock is available from 4/11 on HUMANA Online.