Let’s set the scene. You’re stood at the bar in HiFi, desperately clamouring for a can of ice cold Red Stripe. You’re wondering how on earth you ended up here for the third Tuesday in a row. It’s warm… too warm; you struggle to catch your breath as the DJ drops their trademark transition from Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘September’ to Kanye West’s ‘Gold Digger’. Suddenly, a figure effortlessly breezes past you in what looks like your dad’s first ever football kit: calm, cool and collected amidst the sweaty chaos of the club. As their back disappears into the crowd, you just make out the name ‘Escobar’ in bright white glyphs before they’re gone, forever. Have you just witnessed the twilight years of a Columbian drug lord’s career, or have you simply stumbled upon Wulf Corp, the latest clothing project to come out of Leeds?
The brainchild of Head Designer and Director, George Woodburn-Baker, Wulf Corp takes inspiration from the timeless designs of vintage football kits. Asking the designer about the origins of his idea, George is refreshingly honest.
“The football theme actually originated from the fact that I liked many of the old retro football shirts (specifically the old PSG 2000s range/1990 Manchester United shirts) but didn’t really support a team or follow football. So, creating a football shirt that took the retro look of the old kits and associated them with a brand rather than a football club seemed like an idea that would sell. That way, Wulf Corp could target an audience that didn’t follow football as a sport but still respected and admired the fashion aspects of some of the shirts and designs.”
Developed by George while he was studying Civil Engineering at Leeds, Wulf Corp’s humble origins began as a means for George to simply make some custom clothing for his friends. However, since graduating from Leeds last year, George has developed the brand further, producing large quantities of limited edition designs for international consumers.
“I was able to get people’s feedback on my designs through online groups such as the Basement and Wavey Garms, getting a very positive response and taking pre orders. From there I began sourcing from further a field with quality and uniqueness at the heart of the brand.”
Vintage football kits have clearly made a comeback in recent years, with many nations at the 2018 FIFA World Cup invoking the designs of football kits from yesteryear (who can forget THAT Nigeria kit, or the absolute mood that was the Argentina away kit?). George has taken this trend of looking into the past a step further in Wulf Corp’s ‘The World History’ range, however, combining the vintage designs with the names of controversial historical figures.
“As a self confessed history swat, I always loved watching history documentaries and movies, and learning about these notorious deceased historical figures and organisations, from Escobar to Castro, the KGB to the CIA. A thought passed my mind as to why couldn’t we mix history with football, paying homage to some of histories most famous people through clothing? Having a notorious figure like Escobar on your back has a novelty to it, especially during summer and festival season – at the very least we’ve seen it startup a conversations about where the person got the T-shirt.”
Knowing that students are always keen to embrace new labels and unique garms, the city of Leeds might just have been the perfect place for George to get Wulf Corp off the ground.
“Leeds is a fashion hub, end of. Anybody that says it isn’t either can’t dress themselves or has never been to Leeds. There’s just something about sitting outside Royal Park or Brudenell on a Saturday morning after beaver works and seeing some of the creativity that walks by as people head or come back from house parties all over Hyde Park, still looking as fresh as they did at the start of the night. Hats off to all the Leeds students for their creative fashion sense, I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else. It’s unique to Leeds.”
The future looks bright for George and Wulf Corp, with a collaboration with a Jersey-based brand to produce a Roman/Greek themed football shirt, taking inspiration from Michelangelo’s David, already in the pipeline.
“A variety of connections have been formed from the inception of the label last Summer, it’s crazy to see how far our fan base has grown not just within the UK but within Europe and the US. For the upcoming releases we’ve been able to form some very positive and insightful links with a number of models, DJs (one of which is headlining inner city electronic) and photographers. A special mention to a certain London based photographer who previously worked on the PUMA campaign and will be orchestrating the shoot of our remaining football shirt drops next month.”