Peter Boothroyd was living alone in a trailer when he discovered he had accidentally launched a global fashion brand.
To say the musician, originally from Bury, was perplexed would be an understatement. Working under his surname Boothroyd, Peter has been recording and performing music since 2012.
Although it achieved modest success, it never produced official merchandise. So when he saw pictures of people wearing clothes with his name on them, he was stunned.
The images, which he found littered on Facebook, showed people in countries including South Korea, India and Argentina donning clothes with ‘Boothroyd’ on the front and ‘Tri-Angle’ discs – a label Peter has released music with – below.
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“It’s so weird,” said Peter, 29. “I was completely isolated and living in a trailer while a lot of people wearing this stuff seemed to be having a good time and living a better life than me. I don’t know how it started but it kept spreading .
“I didn’t make any money from it at all, but I kept finding it funny and amusing. It’s so popular and they have no idea who I am.”
After leaving Bury for London almost a decade ago, Peter began recording ‘dark electronic music’. He released a debut album “Idle Hours” in 2014 which saw him play shows across the UK and Europe.
When the pandemic started in early 2020, Peter moved from London to Morecambe where he lived in a trailer while working on new music.
One day, he received a message on Instagram out of the blue. It showed an Argentinian pop star wearing a t-shirt with his artist logo. Although confused, he said he found it amusing at first.
He explained: “I knew I had fans in South America, a Chilean radio station recently aired a report on my last album, which didn’t change my life, and I received a strange email of a Bolivian hipster asking me to listen to their tracks. My music was selling in places like Japan, but I never thought in terms of branding. I had created a logo in lowercase Helvetica font and I didn’t had never done merchandising.
“That’s how the world is gone now. We’re globalized, things get spilled online. When you release music, you never know where it might travel or who it might connect with.”
After discovering other images of people wearing similar clothing bearing his name, Peter investigated further. He discovered that the clothes originated in South Korea before apparently spreading to other countries.
He explained. “Using Facebook’s search engine which uses a text-in-image detection system, I started collecting pictures of stylish East Asians wearing Boothroyd. New ones were popping up every day.
“While its logotype may be relatively uninspiring on its own, the Boothroyd brand has nailed global ubiquity without trying. Over the past year, I’ve collected over a thousand images. People from all walks of life Continents were on the Boothroyd train, with different editions and styles in each region.”
Peter doesn’t believe those wearing the clothes know who he is, which has made the brand’s success all the more surreal. However, he soon began to wonder how the clothes were made.
“Judging by the high quantities and low prices, it was obvious that some of this unofficial Boothroyd merchandise doesn’t appear to be ethically or sustainably made,” he explained.
“I had no problem accidentally becoming a global fashion brand, but as a much more ethical and environmentally conscious person than I was years ago, I didn’t want to being a brand synonymous with fast fashion and its long list of negatives. I don’t like the idea of my music being at the start of a toxic supply chain.”
After emailing some of the websites selling Boothroyd products and getting no response, Peter finally found an answer at a store selling Boothroyd shirts.
He said: “They wouldn’t divulge any trade secrets, so they were vague and told me that they had ordered directly from a factory in Guangdong, one of China’s major garment manufacturing centers, which is plagued by poor working conditions.
“I dreamed of taking my brand back and entering the lucrative Korean fashion market with an ‘official’ eco-friendly alternative. I needed money at the time, I was living in a trailer, but more importantly, it would give the concerned consumer some option.”
Using organic cotton and eco-friendly inks, Peter had 100 Boothroyd t-shirts made which he then put up for sale online, targeting the Korean market. When they sold out, another 200 were made. They disappeared just as quickly. Yet copies continued to appear across the world, some with a misspelling of the word Boothroyd.
“There was nothing I could do,” he said. “I couldn’t control what was happening in a small shop in Buenos Aires or in a street market in Delhi.
“There are still new counterfeit variants popping up. Some of them have proper professional photography. There are plenty in Italy now, but it doesn’t seem to have caught on in the UK or America. “
Peter has since successfully registered the trademark in the UK and plans to introduce official Boothroyd gear here in the near future.