Can we interest you in an adorable pair of Hello Kitty pajamas? How about a bold pair of leggings covered with the Red Guards from Squid Game or a The Witcher-inspired dress that’s formal (and subtle) enough for a night out? BlackMilk Clothing has it all. The Australian apparel company, which was founded in 2009 and originally found fame with its bold, patterned leggings, has become a major player in the world of fandom fashion.
The company’s first licensed collection (with Star Wars) launched nearly a decade ago. Since then, they have produced fashion collections for Harry Potter, Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, Warner Bros. horror titles, Super Mario, Barbie, and more. We chatted with BlackMilk founder James Lillis about producing these collections, the fans’ influence, and more.
The Pop Insider: Can you tell me a bit about BlackMilk’s initial decision to start doing licensed collections? Why did that feel like the right direction for the brand and the right fit for your customers?
James Lillis: Licensed collections have been part of BlackMilk’s DNA since our first Star Wars collection back in 2012. At the time, we were most well known for our galaxy print leggings, and pop culture has always been a huge part of what we do, so it felt totally natural to go to Star Wars from there.
PI: What has the fan reaction been like to your licensed collections?
JL: The response to our licensed collections has always been overwhelmingly positive. On some release days, I think we have definitely been close to actually breaking the Internet! I think the wide range of licenses we have worked with is great for fans because there really has been something for everyone — from Harry Potter die-hards to gamers. And of course, every time we release a new licensed collection, we always hear a very loud chorus of “Do this one next!”
PI: How do you find a balance between maintaining the BlackMilk look and incorporating the design parameters that come from these brand partners?
JL: This really comes down to the licenses we choose to work with. We only take on collaborations that we know will work with the BlackMilk style. And it goes both ways: Licensors want to work with us specifically because they love what we do.
PI: What do you think makes BlackMilk’s licensed apparel stand out from other licensed apparel on the market?
JL: I think we have a very unique take on licensed gear. For us, it’s about doing more than taking a single image and reproducing it on the front of a T-shirt; we like to put the BlackMilk twist on everything we do. Sometimes, that has meant having our graphic artists hand-draw their own version of a character, or using more subtle motifs from the licensed artwork to create something that anyone can enjoy, whether they are part of that fandom or not.
Our signature shapes are also quite unique in the world of licensed apparel. Instead of putting everything on a standard tee or dress, our collections include overalls, playsuits, swimsuits, activewear, kimono-style robes, and more. We have even created our own unique fabrics using licensed artworks, such as custom burned velvets, flocked fabrics, and foils.
PI: What is your personal favorite licensed collection that BlackMilk has done so far?
JL: My favorite will always be the one where it all started: Star Wars!
PI: Are there any dream brands that you would love to work with for an apparel collection?
JL: We love to listen to our fans when it comes to future collaborations – so anything our customers are screaming out for, we will try to make happen!
PI: Can you share anything about upcoming collaborations that fans can look forward to?
JL: We have a few exciting things in the works for early next year. That’s all I can say for now!
To shop the latest licensed collections from BlackMilk, head to blackmilkclothing.com.