Lowtide Chats: Mungo Bates and Panashe Matadi of FRIENDS + ENEMIES
Meet new kids on the block Mungo and Panashe of Friends + Enemies! We chatted to these guys following their pop-up at Lowtide for the launch of their new "Love Series" collection - available now online. Get to know the story behind the brand's inception and what's instore for 2018 !
Tell us about yourself and how you met?
M: My name is Mungo, I was born in Auckland, grew up in Raglan, moved to Hamilton for school, and have returned to Auckland as of three weeks ago to focus on the brand.
P: My name is Panashe. I was born in Zimbabwe and moved to Hamilton when I was five. I pursued football in high school, but then moved to Auckland to work on Friends and Enemies with Mungo. It’s funny because Mungo and I didn’t even like each other to begin with, we just weren’t on the same buzz.
M: We met when I was 14 and he was 16 so there was a difference in age and maturity - we didn’t really start off on the right foot. But through mutual friends, we got to know one another and began to see a brighter side! It all makes sense now!
How did Friends and Enemies come about?
P: Eight months ago I was working at the meatworks and I hated my job ! I was just the floor boy sweeping fat. I thought to myself “I could do something else with my life besides this, I could be my own boss and start my own brand.” So I pitched it to a group of friends including Mungo. It was a mean idea and I pictured it the same as it’s turned out to be honest. But no one really had faith - except Mungo.
M: You could say it was a coincidence but when I was in year 10 at high school we had to make a product in business class. Essentially we had to make something and sell it. I made this t-shirt that had ‘Enemies’ written on it using Microsoft Paint and it looked really shit! I only made two and sold one, so I guess the ‘Enemies’ part has always been there. Then when Panashe came up with the idea, a week passed, and surprisingly no one really jumped to it. But when he asked me again I said, "Don't worry - I'll do it." With Panaashe’s sense of fashion and style, I had faith that if he were to start something, people would click onto it. I was still trying to find my sense of style - I still am, its a running joke between both of us. But with my background in business and skills in marketing I thought why not? What do I have to lose? Maybe I’ll lose a bit of money, but I’m going to learn so much along the way. That was the mentality we both went into it with.
P: In all honesty, and not being cocky or anything, I knew it would turn out well. For some reason, I always knew. I had a gut feeling.
M: Yeah we sort of spoke things into existence. Panashe woke up one morning and was like, “Imagine if we made Vice somehow,” and then a week later I had an email from a photographer who asked us if we wanted to be in Vice Magazine.
P: Mungo called me when I was asleep. My phone kept buzzing and buzzing, and then my other mate blasted open my door and was like, “You guys are gonna be on Vice!”
M: We both wanted to kind of step out of the box and try something new so we’ve just been pushing hard ever since - no matter what - there's been some rough patches but that’s life. You get past it, and that’s what kept us going.
The “Love Series" collection is your second release for Friends and Enemies, what was the concept driving it?
P: I was going through a patch where I was unemployed for 2-3 months. I was sitting at my friend's house and he was going through a “love patch” and was quite depressed by it. I sat with him and began drawing a gun with some words surrounding it - one of which was Love stuck with me. In the mix of things I replaced the letter ‘O’ with the barrel of the gun and it just clicked.
M: It later grew into a campaign to promote how our idea of love and relationships has changed over the generations, and how teenagers today express emotions differently compared to how their parents or grandparents may have. Our idea of love is so messed up these days!
How have you translated that idea into a visual form?
P: There's a personal connection. Everything I’ve designed is something I would wear and for other people to share.
M: The process is pen to paper, making it digital, testing colours, arrangments, editing, sampling, and then fingers crossed it turns out how we want it to be. We don’t see the finished product until we get it back from production, so its kind of exciting and scary at the same time.
The collection has had such a good reception, especially with ASAP Ferg wearing it during his tour. How did that come about ?
M: We always wanted a relationship with the umbrella of arts, especially the music scene. Personally, I see a lot of talent in New Zealand but a lot of people are scared to express their talents. When we started I thought “If we can mix in with musicians and create room for exposure, we can also inspire new and good ideas."
P: When Lil Yachty came to Auckland we took a gamble in reaching out to him.
M: I emailed his assistant manager and we kept in contact for a solid month, but by the time he arrived in New Zealand we got mucked around. We ended up giving his assistant the gear but we never saw anything of it. He got us free tickets into the concert which was cool - but we put in a tonne of work, we slept on couches for three months in sleeping bags with no spare change of clothes, it was terrible - like really bad.
But from that we learnt that these acts have more shit to worry about than two young kids trying to give them clothing. So when it came to ASAP Ferg, we took it really lightly.
P: In all honesty, if it weren’t for the experience with Lil Yachty, we wouldn’t have been so lucky with ASAP Ferg. It just happened without forcing it. We gave our friend Lukas Martin (who was opening for Ferg) some merch to wear, and when he was backstage he handed Ferg a USB of beats. Ferg thanked him for the tracks and asked LuKas about our hoodie he was wearing. He gave him the rundown of Friends and Enemies and Ferg said “I fuck with that” so Lukas took it off on the spot and gave it to him. We didn’t even tell Lukas to do that!
M: And not to mention, it was perfect timing for some decent exposure in the lead up to the launch of our new collection.
Who would be your dream person to rep the brand?
P: ASAP Rocky.
Having that in mind does that make you want to travel?
Yeah definitely, eventually New York, but the next step is Melbourne. We’d like to just travel in general for inspiration.
You’re both so young and ambitious, what advice would you give to other young creatives who are starting their own creative venture or business?
P: Personally, just do it, you having nothing to lose.
M: Our first Instagram post was on the 4th of April 2017, and now we’re in December already. That’s just eight months. You have nothing to lose when you’re young, there’s nothing to hold you back at all.
P: Another tip would be, don’t expect too much. Stay humble and do more than just try.
M: And don’t let people get to your head, no matter what you do you’ll always have someone hating on you. No matter where you are or what you do - someone’s gonna be there trying to kick you in the teeth but just push past that. We’ve experienced it. Everyone starting something will experience it. Eventually, those people will come back and say “I remember that guy from day one” and you’ll remember what they said. Use it as motivation instead of seeing it as a negative.
P: "Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try" - Yoda
Now that you’ve launched so close to the new year, what can followers expect for 2018?
M: Our Love collection will be released on December 13th which is Panashe’s birthday! Otherwise, we’re working on an exclusive release for Sound Splash Festival in Raglan 2018.
P: Something that’s going to touch the world! That’s all I can say for now.