Heroes & Villains creative director Doug Johnson on representing all sides of a story in their products
In the increasingly competitive fandom fashion industry, brands need to find ways to stand out as they translate properties into various apparel and accessories for fans. There are quite a few ways companies have been doing this, but a fun approach we’ve seen recently is from a new brand that debuted at San Diego Comic-Con called Heroes & Villains.
Heroes & Villains is owned by well-known licensed apparel and accessories company Bioworld. At San Diego Comic-Con in July Heroes & Villains launched their first collection called the Endor Supply collection, which is inspired by the Battle of Endor in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. The interesting angle Heroes & Villains takes is right in the brand name. The ready-to-wear pieces in the line tell both sides of the battle.
While lines have taken inspiration from both heroes and villains of a property before, this brand emphasizes that telling the whole story is its focus by actually separating the line into two distinct collections. There are items to help you feel like the heroes in the Commando Collection and ways you can embrace your villainous side in the Imperial Collection. Both feature products like jackets, bags, and hats for men and women. If you weren’t able to visit the Heroes & Villains booth at San Diego Comic-Con, the line is available online now.
We interviewed creative director Doug Johnson over email to find out more about Heroes & Villains and what fans can expect from the brand.
Why did you want to start the Heroes & Villains brand?
Doug Johnson: Well it’s been a long time coming to tell you the truth. Bioworld has been working with the most iconic pop culture brands for years and years. We have an endless catalog of product development that spans more than 15 years in over 100 key brands truly offering something for every pop culture consumer. Heroes and Villains seeks to tell the licensed product story in a way that is appreciative and respectful to the great creative minds that founded the fictional worlds we love to explore.
When we started attending San Diego Comic-Con and saw the way the core fans reacted to the products we were building we knew that we had something special and that we needed a name to tie to it. When looking at the legendary stories of the brands we work with, it’s obvious that there is always a light and a dark, a good and evil, a Hero and Villain. It’s the basis of all epic tales and it’s eternal. Heroes and Villains represents that storytelling and is a tribute to the creative minds and the ever-expanding universe they established. We want to offer the true core fans an extension of that universe so that they can literally own a piece of the story.
How will the lines created for Heroes & Villains stand out from the other fandom fashion collections out there?
Johnson: Heroes and Villains products are designed to be as relevant today as they will be 10 years from now. Heroes and Villains is not focused on fashion trend. We are more interested in authenticity, quality and respect as is the core fan we are serving.
Your first collection is a ready-to-wear Star Wars line. Why did you want to start with Star Wars and what made you choose the Battle of Endor specifically for inspiration?
Johnson: Star Wars really embodies the spirit of Heroes and Villains. The depth of content established in the Star Wars universe is infinite and continues to expand. The fans of Star Wars are some of the most engaged, knowledgeable and interactive fans you will find. Through Bioworld’s experiences at comic-con San Diego over the past four years, we realized this following and witnessed the respect for the product we were creating. Some of the fans we interacted with would literally buy entire collections of product because they understood these items as collector pieces. Bioworld established a following and would see return customers come to our booth year after year to add to their existing collection of Star Wars accessories. We started here because it was the closest touch point we had to the core fan we are committed to serving.
Why Endor? The first thing we always have to do when we start a collection is to identify the moment we want to relive. We have to be exact in this position and as authentic as possible in order to serve the experience to the fans. We visited A New Hope with our launch into Star Wars accessories featuring our X-Wing and Stormtrooper collections. At comic-con 2017 we launched our Han Solo and AT-AT pilot collections derived from the epic opening battle of Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back. Considering we had visited two out of three of the original trilogies it was only appropriate we venture to The Return of The Jedi. The battle of Endor to me has always been one of the most incredible moments in the war against the Empire. The introduction of the Scout Troopers and the Rebel Commandos really elevated the story and gave us all an experience to remember. What kid didn’t want a speeder bike in the early ‘80s? We chose this moment because it was one we all wanted to relive and knew the fans would too.
The Endor Supply Collection is separated into the Imperial Collection and the Commando Collection. When did you decide it would make the most sense to separate the line into two areas and how did that help you develop items for the collection?
Johnson: All great stories have two sides. We have to represent the story in our product line, if we left either side out the story would be incomplete. We knew from the start and never questioned the fact that both perspectives would be equally represented in the collection.
You're offering a mix of apparel and accessories for men and women. What was your process like for deciding what you wanted to include in the line and translating the Endor inspiration into these designs?
Johnson: Heroes and Villains offers something for all of the true fans. We have design teams that specialize in each segment of the product and we understand that fandom is genderless. Every line we build is equally important to the female fan as it is the male. When determining the product line it’s important to consider the context and the story. For example, the rebel handbag developed for the Endor line draws inspiration from Princess Leia instead of the Commandos. Let’s not forget Leia fought side by side with the elite soldiers in this battle and should be equally represented when the moment is relived otherwise the collection is incomplete. These are the perspectives we have to look through in order to offer the experience.
Will you be adding new items to this collection over time or are these pieces all that will be available?
Johnson: The endless content within the Star Wars universe allows us to visit and revisit moments from various perspectives. As the story continues to grow we will surely have more opportunities to relive these key moments in new ways. We will continue to push new development through our website and offer up exclusive content to those that follow us. The Endor line is simply initiated and will continue to expand.
Can you give us a hint as to what you might be offering next?
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