An Interview With Young Fashion Designer Janak Tull: An Inspired Individual With a Vision
Zachary Franck interviewing Janak Tull
ZF: How long have you been creating clothing? Why and how did you start?
JT: The first piece of clothing I remember altering was a vest I wore in high school. We had a dress code (shirt, tie, pants, belt, and shoes) to wear everyday, and I hated that everybody looked the same. I used to sew things onto clothing so they were still in dress code, but I looked a lot different than everybody else. Toward the end of high school (2009) I started cutting stencils out of transparencies and spray painting the negative space onto clothing. In college I started screen-printing. After visiting San Francisco in 2011 I got deeply inspired by the people and color and started sewing and tie dying. It started in a store called the Piedmont. I wanted to buy this really psychedelic button down that was $130. I offered to trade some shirts I had printed for a discount, but the lady running the store explained that they make everything in house and they needed the money. She told me as an artist it is my job to go out into the world and find things and put them together. The next store we happened to walk into was a fabric shop. I found some blue spike fur with yellow spikes and neon yellow shattered glass spandex. I bought two yards of each and when I returned home a friend of mine, Olivia Strong, showed me how to cut up an old piece of clothing to make a pattern. This vest was the first snowball that got pushed off the tiptop of the mountain.
ZF: What are you most influenced by? Do you feel that it's your calling to make create your own brand and hook our generation up with awesome one-of-a-kind threads?
JT: I am most influenced by blue, yellow, and the number six. I think my calling is to be a healer. I am going to practice as a dentist during my lifetime. I’ve always liked working with people and I think the people of our generation are at a very strange place in time. I believe we are all homogenizing in a way and it is very important that we recognize the unique individual nature of each person. I think my clothes allow for people to activate parts of their personality or character that they may feel uncomfortable or unfamiliar with in public. When you put on clothes I make, you have the power to transform. I’ve always loved Dragon Ball Z.
ZF: I know your older brother Jasha (Space Jesus) has began to pave his own path in the music scene, has he inspired you to step outside societies box and follow your true passion?
JT: My brother has inspired me with everything. As long as I can remember I have looked up to him in every way. He has been my guide in life, and he paved the path for me to grow into the man I am today. My whole family is very loving and supporting. Jasha has always been extremely critical of my work and what I do as a human being. I think that is why I have gotten to do all of the things in life that I do. Jasha may very well be the most special human being on this planet... its just a matter of time before the world realizes what he is capable of. I'd be nothing without him.
ZF: Five years ago, did you think you'd be doing this?
JT: Five years ago I had just finished my freshman year of college. I had planned on being a dentist since I was 13 years old, but I knew that I would lead a more creative lifestyle than the average dentist. The honest answer is no. I had no idea I would be doing what I am doing right now. I thought I would be done my first year in dental school by now.
ZF: Where do you see yourself and your brand in one year?
JT: My vision of my brand is extremely enigmatic. There are a very wide variety of things that I produce as an individual. I think my brands best promotion include the pins and t-shirts that I design and produce. Most of those are sold on my website. I have made a lot of custom orders and I really love making custom clothing. I teamed up with my sidekick Joyce this summer... she really helps me stay on top of the custom orders and she is going to help me keep this train chugging while I'm in school for the next four years.
ZF: Over the past year, I know you've been traveling around the world, have you picked up different vibes and ideals from the various cultures you've been exposed to?
JT: Absolutely. My initial goal was to travel all the way around the world with a backpack for a year, but I didn't quite make enough money to do that last summer. So I decided to go to the two places that I wanted to go most, Japan and India. Over the winter I spent five months in India (my mother was born in India) and I did some soul searching and found some really wonderful inspiration at spiritual sites. Seeing the style and quality of life over there really makes you reevaluate everything you do on a daily basis, which is also nice. As I stated earlier I have been an avid Dragon Ball Z fan since my youth. My father is a religion professor and he observes the Jewish religion and my mom is a dentist and observes the Hindu religion, but my parents never really impressed any religious ideas or beliefs on my brother and me. They just travelled the world with us and showed us how people were in different places and allowed us to draw our own conclusions. I however, found great moral lessons and inspiration to do well by the people around me in the sagas of Dragon Ball Z. I have been to Japan three times before, so this was my fourth trip. This was my first time going alone so I really got to go explore and have adventures on my own. Joyce joined me for the first week I was there and we really had a blast together exploring temple hijinks. It was basically one big dragon Ball Z treasure hunt. I went with one backpack and came back with three suitcases full of DBZ paraphernalia. I also got to see the new DBZ movie in theaters... which was DOPE. I found six of the dragon balls but I had to come home before I could find the last one... but I'll be back, and Ill summon shenlong no problem.
ZF: Tell us about your brand - what exactly do you create?
JT: My brand is Janak. Many people know it as Janak Tull... but the truth is that my brand is Janak. My main focus is clothing but I like to say I can make anything and everything by working with the right people from stickers to robots. My name is a Hindi name and the J is hard. Not soft. I also pronounce it differently than the generic Hindi pronunciation. It rhymes with sonic or tonic. Here are a couple translations of my name... Janak - Father, progenitor, procreator, king of the people. I realized what a powerful tool my parents gave me with my name when I was in India. I’ve spent the last 22 years explaining to people how to say my name correctly, and I think there is great power in that.
ZF: Have you been making money off of your passion of fashion?
JT: I have been making some money, but I take all that money and spend it on more materials so I can make more art. I’m gonna be a dentist to make money to live on.
ZF: Do you think you'll eventually be vending at festivals? Have you been commissioned to make any clothing for anyone?
JT: I have vended at a few festivals, but I prefer making custom clothing, which is harder to do at festivals. I do have an overwhelming stock of shirts I've printed and clothes I have sewn that I never plan on wearing so I will be selling those over the next year or so. I have been commissioned for a hundred custom projects or so in the last year.
ZF: Where do you source most of your fabric?
JT: I get most of my fabric from LA and NY. But occasionally SF and Philadelphia. My boys David and Mizan hook it up the hardest.
ZF: Do you plan on collaborating with your older brother in the future? What have you done together already?
JT: My brother and I work together a lot. We like to help each other as best we can. There are rumors of a fashion show at Great North festival featuring my clothes and music opening for Space Jesus' set on the main stage at sundown... but those are still rumors and nothing really solid yet. For now I am helping Jasha get his merch store set up and developing his Space Jesus brand through merchandise. We are looking to launch his site next month. “We are all really excited about it... all his new merchandise looks really saq.”
ZF: What is your definition of success in life?
JT: “A lot of people gauge success by money or fame... saying we made it or something like that. I think that is bogus. I think success in life can be measured by the happiness within yourself and those around you. I once read that there are as many stars in the sky as there are atoms in the human body and the relative distance between points of mass on a cosmic and atomic scale are almost exactly proportional. As many religions believe, this information has lead me to conclude that there is a universe that exists within the molecular structure of our beings. Our actions and ideas influence the creation and destruction within that universe. I think leading a happy healthy lifestyle where you benefit the people you love and those around you is the truth to my idea of success. When you have fun making things, it shows in the final product... from babies to pance.”