Welcome to Brand To Watch, a new bi-weekly style column from COMPLEX UK. Here, we’ll be spotlighting the best emerging brands out of the UK, asking them what makes them stand out from the crowd, how they’ve navigated through unprecedented times and determining their vision of fashion and the future.
If you’ve gone for a walk or taken public transport around a dystopian-looking London in the last 12 months—in and out of lockdowns—you may well have seen an ‘always do what you should do’ or ‘tell your friends you love them’ sticker posted up on a road sign, train window, or bus seat.
Those uplifting messages, and their lo-fi yet lively graphics, belong to Nick Mason, founder of London-based brand Always Do What You Should Do. Having grown up in New Zealand with a deeply-rooted connection to surfing and skating, Nick took his penchant for the beach to the streets of London and began running Always from a shared bedroom in East London, all while working in surf/skate/concept stores in Soho.
With cult surf labels such as Rip Curl, Billabong and Quicksilver’s hype peaking in the early-00s that Nick was growing up in, Always really leans into that post-Y2K, vibrant ethos those brands were channeling at the time. While Always has an easy-going vibe, the brand keeps feel-good messaging at the forefront of everything it does. Always has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and while their home is in London, their reach is now felt globally. The brand has gone from a run of screen-printed tees to collaborating with Patagonia and Carhartt and helping raise money to help a Brazilian surf club stay afloat during the pandemic, with a distinct aim of turning the hype into help for others along the way.
Getting to know more about the brand and why they should be on your radar, we caught up with Nick Mason to find out how he got started, his main influences, challenges, and future goals for the company moving forward.