ARTICLE BY Seb

Five Things You Need to Know About Brain Dead

Brain Dead have enjoyed a massive 2020 so far, from raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the BLM cause to putting a whole bunch of heater collaborations on shelves – such as their latest Reebok Beatnik and Pump Court. Backing the artistic collective is a genuine love of creating new work, and the many numerous subcultural cues that they reference. From obscure cinema, music, comic books, and art, Brain Dead are more than a clothing brand, they are a creative force to be reckoned with.

After highlighting some of our favourites among their impressive catalogue of sneaker collaborations, we put together a list of the five things you must know about the LA-based creative collective.

Both Founders Have a Rich History in the Scene

Before finding their feet with Brain Dead, both founders, Ed Davis and Kyle Ng, worked on some pretty epic projects! Hailing from Australia, Ed had a hand in the early days of Melbourne’s legendary Doomsday store. As well as that, he’s worked on projects such as the Heavy Time zine, Rat Brain, and Heavy Mental blog.

Kyle also had two previous brands, one called AXS Folk Technology, and the other called Farm Tactics. AXS Folk Technology took cues from California counterculture in the 60s and 70s, while Farm Tactics drew from vintage textiles and classic looks.

It All Started With an Email

One day, Kyle had received a Rat Brain tee as a gift, at the same time as he was working on his brand AXS Folk Technology. Digging the shirt, that happened to have been designed by Ed, Kyle decided to cold email him and propose they work on a brand together. After being slightly hesitant at first, Ed agreed, and Brain Dead was born.


Kyle Ng Hosts a Streetwear Show!

In addition to a whole range of other creative pursuits, Kyle also hosts a streetwear show on Red Bull TV called Social Fabric! The show explores this fascinating world of ours, breaking down and talking about topics as simple as the humble t-shirt. It’s a genuinely interesting watch, and there’s even a sneaker episode in there!

They Have a Clear Passion for Music

If you are a hardcore Brain Dead head, or you just love a good mix, you might already know about their monthly mash-up of tunes on NTS radio. Blasting a broad range of genres, their mixes exude a similar obscure vibe to their Chuck 70 colab. There’s synth pop, psychedelic rock, techno, electro, grunge, and everything in between! Alongside their mixes, there will almost always be some sick apparel.

Talking about garms inspired by music, they also worked with rapper Danny Brown in 2016 on a slew of merch for his Atrocity Exhibition album.

Brain Dead Aren’t All Talk When It Comes to Social Issues

You don’t need us to tell you that a lot has already happened in 2020. In addition to the global pandemic caused by the spread of COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement has gathered some serious momentum – fuelled by the flashpoint for racial injustice towards the middle of this year. Many brands have chipped in to support the cause, donating to charities and being vocal about their ability to do so. We’re thankful to every single one, but I think we can safely say that no one did it like Brain Dead.

With the help of Dev Hynes of Blood Orange fame, Brain Dead were able to raise a whopping $500,000 for BLM causes! They also raised another couple of hundred thousand from their ACAB shirt. On top of all that, they went ahead and called out brands that they had collaborated with, encouraging them to do more in the BLM space.

Brain Dead have also extended their support to other social issues in 2020. Most recently, they collaborated with Evolv to create the Zenist rock climbing shoe. Founder Kyle Ng is an avid climbing enthusiast, so we can imagine that this would have been a dream link-up. But, Brain Dead being Brain Dead, the proceeds of the shoe went to initiatives that give marginalised communities access to outdoor activities – including the DEI Film Festival, Long Beach Rising, Brown Girls Climb, Young Women Who Crush and Adaptive Climbing Group.

The crew also had a hand in raising money for victims of the most recent Australian bushfires thank to a t-shirt preorder. All the net proceeds went to CFA Victoria.

Want more Brain Dead? We highlighted our favourites out of their impressive array of sneaker collaborations, be sure to check it out!

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