Will Clinkard, Parlez Clothing, Document, Bristol

Operating a fashion brand at DOCUMENT

Parlez is an independent Bristol born and bred streetwear brand with global notoriety.

From Tokyo to Copenhagen, their iconic nautical motifs are synonymous with the indie clothing brand that are a go-to for everyone from My Nu Leng to Bristol foodfluencer BoSFinesse. Stocked in Urban Outfitters, ASOS and shipping internationally, Parlez have come a long way since those early days in 2012 where founder Cav Bunkhall was zipping up apparel in his parent’s garage. The business has scaled to a point where they have a warehouse in Wales and run their design studio and showroom from their bespoke space at DOCUMENT. 

Managing Director, Will Clinkard takes five to chat about what it’s like to run a busy fashion label from the 90s warehouse, plus shares his thoughts on Bristol’s thriving streetwear scene and the state of the high street.

Parlez have been at DOCUMENT for over two years now, tell us about your set up?
“We’re near a gym, a tattoo artist and street artist Mr Penfold. We’ve got great neighbours and we have nice chats in the kitchen area. We bounce off each other, Mr Penfold does stuff for us. It’s great. A nice little buzz.”

There’s a lot going on with retail and the high street right now – how are you guys finding it?
“Some of the best stores in the country have been bought up by JD Sports and they’re being shut down… Mike Ashley and JD Sports and are decimating the high street. They’re making it homogenised and it’s the same cr*p in every town. It’s quite nice because it’s swinging back to independent and if the shops are strong independents, like Cooshti in Bristol, they’re having the best time ever because they’re catering for what people want with a more interesting brand mix. Changing times.”

I guess it helps being surrounded by good people. How does being part of the DOCUMENT creative community benefit you and your brand?

Just bouncing ideas off each other and having those informal conversations about direction and what things we can do together, and what’s bubbling around Bristol. It’s nice having other creative people with a similar ethos to ourselves.”

Design-wise – what are your looks rooted in?
“We’re big fans of 90s streetwear. Cav used to live on a boat and is also into sailing  – so there’s a nautical theme too. Parlez has a 90s retro feel with a sailing edge. You see that coming through as coordinates – which are references – plus sailing flags.”

Bristol is an attractive place for creatives from all over the UK, how much does being part of the creative scene infiltrate the design process?
I think it’s a really interesting scene and city. Bristol’s got everything from a really good music scene to a really good food scene and a really good fashion scene. It’s nice to involve different elements. We have BoSFinesse to do some filming and promo around our event at Wiper and True… Bristol’s like a big village where a lot of businesses know each other… In bigger cities, like London, you do have that to a certain degree, but it’s not a close knit community where different industries bounce off each other.”

And finally, what’s on the cards for 2023?
This year we’re just continuing our plans for expansion into Europe. We are also looking at doing some pop-up stores, and sample sales. We’ve also got some interesting collaborations, like one with a Spanish brand called Pompei in the summer. We’ve got another collaboration with another Bristol brand which we can’t really say much about at the moment in autumn in a different sector… It’s going to be a funny time in retail but we’re in a good place. Hopefully we’ll continue to grow.”

Catch the Parlez sample sale Saturday 1st April at Wiper and True, Old Market, Bristol

Learn more, follow them on Instagram @parlezclothing