Illustrator Rob Flowers has created a capsule collection featuring his signature characters. Created in collaboration with designers Palm Bay Skates (PBS) who create sports inspired apparel in a classic style, Flowers’ collection is an ode to his home of Margate, specifically the Cliftonville area.
After moving back to the area from London six years ago, Flowers was introduced to local shop Palm Bay Skates and began kicking around ideas for a collaboration. As a brand, PBS create everything in-house, mostly making authentic 1950s era jerseys, as well as sweatshirts and t-shirts, ball caps, beanies and socks. All items are made by hand at the shop, across dying, sewing and embroidery. The marriage between the two was perfect with their joint attention to detail, as well as Flowers’ own love for sporting mascots, “As anyone who follows me on Instagram knows,” he tells It’s Nice That.
In turn, the collaborators decided to create a special edition baseball jersey – the signature piece from PBS. Flowers then began his research, looking into “old jerseys and team mascots to get inspiration for the look of the jersey and how the character should be designed,” explains the illustrator. Developing a set of characters, the group then turned to prototyping, where PBS’ in-house approach allowed for flexibility. Trying out various items when building out the collection, “it was so much fun popping into the workshop to see what new thing they’d been embroidering the characters onto,” he adds.
Through Flowers’ research these characters developed along with the baseball theme of PBS, with the illustrator creating his own team, The Cliftonville Kings. With six batting characters adorning his collection, Flowers finds he’s usually “not very good at coming up with names for characters, but they do all have a bit of a personality I think.” First up we have a Lido character, inspired by the Cliftonville Lido stack “part of the now sadly derelict, huge and beautiful Lido up the road from me,” he says. Next we have a sun character, “who I imagine is a cool, chill dude” inspired by the sunsets of the area “and makes you understand what Turner loved about the area.” Then, a seaweed character, a seagull (“who is obviously always grumpy and on the lookout for unprotected food”), as well as shell character, too.
Last but not least we’ve got Dog Poop Guy, as, “I love Cliftonville, but I’ve never been anywhere with that much dog mess everywhere all the time,” says Flowers. “I imagine dog poop being like that annoying friend you can’t seem to freeze out of your friendship group.” Together this band of seaside-living characters represent “the amazing beauty of the area” but also “the faded glory of Cliftonville” and of course “Thanet District Council needing to have stronger enforcement for not clearing up after your dog.”
Members of The Cliftonville Kings sit atop a range of clothing made by PBS, from the signature jersey, t-shirts and a supportive flag for the team. Flowers additionally made a series of Menko baseball card mini Riso prints, as well as scarves and packaging tape for the collection. Overall though, the collection displays both a pride for his home, “a place of amazing natural beauty and some incredible history. I’m constantly discovering new things about Cliftonville, it’s a vibrant and wonderful place but is also incredibly poorly served and has suffered a long period of neglect,” he says. “That’s a lot to communicate in a baseball jersey, but you know, that was my thinking.”
GalleryRob Flowers: Palm Bay Skates (Copyright © Rob Flowers, 2021)
Rob Flowers: Palm Bay Skates (Copyright © Rob Flowers, 2021)
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.