If you are a fan of films then you are a sure to be a fan of Last Exit To Nowhere. It has to be the greatest t-shirt (sweatshirt, hooded top and cap) shop…ever! It’s like a (not so secret) club – think The Goonies but with more t-shirtwearing and less treasure hunting) where Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and Jaws fans (to name a few of the films they cover) can buy film related t-shirts
The really clever aspect is they don’t take the visual aspects of the film, such as Bruce looming from the depths under poor Chrissie, we get cool riffs on the iconic names and brands from the film. All of which means you need to be a fan of the film to get the reference, which in the shape of Jaws means everything from Amity Island PD to Quint’s Shark Fishing to name but two examples.
All of which you means that you and anyone wearing a Last Exit product is practically like a walking Easter Egg, a select few being in on the reference showing that you belong to the same brother (or sister) hood of fandom. Think They Live but without the need of sunglasses to see the messages.
And if you are a wearer of LETN items then you are amongst a group of fans that include everyone from Simon Pegg to Professor Brian Cox and Director of Rogue One, Godzilla and Monsters, Gareth Edwards and to name but a few. In fact spotting LETN t-shirt wearers across the road or across the media has become something of an art form.
The Daily Jaws writer and something of a t-shirt connoisseur, Dean Newman (DN), takes time out from deciding which Last Exit To Nowhere design to wear from his wardrobe (for the record he has multiple Jaws related items, Event Horizon, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, The Thing) to speak with the creator of LETN, Mike, who are based in Nottinghamshire.
Last Exit To Nowhere
DN: Happy birthday! 2017 marks ten years of Last Exit To Nowhere (LETN), it was a hit with my pretty much from the off, has the last decade exceeded all expectations?
Mike from LETN: Thanks a lot, we’re very proud to have reached the 10th anniversary here at Last Exit to Nowhere. To say we’ve exceeded our expectations is an understatement. I initially set up the company in 2007 to save up some extra cash for my wedding. Within two months I was doing it full time.
DN: Who are LETN?
Mike from LETN: We’re a collective of friends and family that work together to create unique film (and now TV) inspired apparel.
DN: Where does the name come from?
Mike from LETN: I wanted a name that reflected the fictitious nature of the companies and locations featured in our designs. The ‘nowhere’ part of the name I felt covered that. I always like the film and book title ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’ - so I combined the two ideas to create the name.
DN: Can you tell me a little about the design process and how the t-shirts go from concept to design?
Mike from LETN: I often sketch the idea down on paper first. Then work up the finished artwork using either Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop.
DN: What was the first t-shirt/group of t-shirts designed by the company?
Mike from LETN: Amity Island (JAWS), Thorn Industries (THE OMEN), OCP (Robocop), Weyland-Yutani (ALIENS) to name just a few. I had about 10 different designs established before we set up the company.
DN: What have been some of the highlights from your first decade? I was thinking some of the collaborations or famous people – Simon Pegg, Professor Brian Cox, Duncan Jones, Gareth Edwards - wearing your creations. I see you’ve contacted Shane Black about doing crew shirts for the new Predator film as well.
Mike from LETN: Some highlights include projects for Pixar, Disney, Universal Studios, StudioCanal, Big Talk Productions, WarpFilms and Rook Films. It’s such an honour for us to be asked to design for the film industry. We’re currently working on a design for Troll Hunter’s André Øvredal next film.
DN: With so many people in the industry getting the LETN vibe and film being an international language has the brand travelled well in the US and other territories? Anywhere in particular?
Mike from LETN: It’s pretty much a world-wide phenomenon these days. All across the UK, Europe, the US, Australasia and Asia.
DN: I like to imagine that working at LETN is like a cross between Pixar – which I believe you’ve been to - and Empire magazine, what’s it like to work there?
Mike from LETN: It’s a great creative environment. We try to balance work life with time outside of work and travelling.
DN: Where are the Jaws items from LETN most popular around the world?
Mike from LETN: UK, Europe and the US predominantly.
DN: By the number of Jaws related tops, mugs and posters I’m guessing someone at Last Exit is a fan?
Mike from LETN: We’re all big fans of Jaws (I don’t know anyone who isn’t to be fair!)
DN: What do you think is the lasting appeal of the film?
Mike from LETN: Great story. Great characters.
DN: What are your first memories of the film? When did you see it? Where?
Mike from LETN: I actually don’t recall my first memory of seeing Jaws. I was only two when it first came out at the cinema, so it must have been on VHS.
DN: As designers you must have a lot of love for the poster, why do you think it works and has stood the test of time?
Mike from LETN: Simple, iconic. Sets the tone of the film very well.
Do you have a favourite moment, scene or line of dialogue?
Mike from LETN: There are too many to choose from in that film.
What was LETN’s first Jaws-related design and when was it released?
Mike from LETN: Amity Island was the first, in 2007.
DN: Do you have a favourite of the Jaws designs?
Mike from LETN: I’ve got a new one in production that references Amity Harbor that I’m particularly keen on right now.
DN: I like the way that there is one design for Brody (Amity Island PD), one for Quint (shark fishing), Hooper (he had Ben Gardiner’s head greet him as he pulled a tooth from the bottom of his boat and was welcomed by him when he first got to the island), the island itself and the Orca (the three barrels design). Is that by accident or by design?
Mike from LETN: I hadn’t really thought if it in that way, so I guess it was an accident of sorts.
DN: Do any of the Jaws designs outstrip sales of the others?
Mike from LETN: Amity Island has probably been the most popular due to how long it’s been on sale for.
DN: Roughly how many LETN Jaws t-shirts are there out there that have been bought?
Mike from LETN: I honestly have no idea.
DN: There is an Amity, Amity Island PD, Quint’s Shark Fishing and Ben Gardiner logo designs, there is also one with a three yellow barrels motif. That is a distinct change from the LETN logo motif we so associate with you, where did that departure come from?
Mike from LETN: The ‘Three Barrels’ design came about after I wanted to do something more illustration based.
DN: And you’ve not just stuck with the original film, we recently saw the addition of a Cable Junction t-shirt from Jaws 2 (I got it for Christmas). The two always merged into one when I was little – same location, same main faces – what do you like/dislike about it?
Mike from LETN: I very much like both films, but the first Jaws film I rate above all. It would have been nice to have Hooper in Jaws 2.
DN: I take it we won’t see anything from Jaws 3 or 4?
Mike from LETN: Correct.
DN: Of course we already have another Jaws sequel t-shirt, Jaws 19 from Back to the FuturePart 2. That was released in 2015 (the year the film within the film was released so was very fitting. An inspired choice that must please both Back To The Future and Jaws fans alike. What was the reaction?
Mike from LETN: Very good. We designed the T-shirt for Jaws 19 to coincide with the Back to the Future date; October 21, 2015. It's the day Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future in the DeLorean.
DN: And some of those same motifs have also made it across to other Last Exit merchandise from a stylish Amity PD emblem mug (on my wish list) to Amity PD caps and beanies. Talking of caps, Spielberg never seems to be seen without one on his head, have you ever sent any to him or any Jaws-related items to the likes of Richard Dreyfuss or Carl Gottlieb? Or have you had any feedback from them or anyone else involved in the production?
Mike from LETN: Nothing from the main cast or Spielberg himself, but we have had some fantastic response and comments from many people who work in the film industry itself.
Let Polly do the printing
DN: And finally we also have a poster based on the ‘Beaches closed by order of Amity PD’sign. It looks exactly like the one in the film, how did that come about as one of your few posters?
Mike from LETN: It seemed like an obvious poster to do. It took some time to re-create it as closely as possible.
DN: The designs are inspired by the films we all love, have you had to speak to Universal or Benchley’s estate regarding copyright or clearance on any of the Jaws items regarding names or even the designs themselves?
Mike from LETN: Thankfully we have a good legal team that represent us to negotiate the legalities in what we do.
DN: You’ve quite a range of Spielberg titles, both films he has directed and Executive Produced. Why do you think that is?
Mike from LETN: The simple answer is that I grew up with Spielberg films. A lot of his films are in my top 10 all-time favourites.
DN: Obviously you’ll still continue creating inspired film t-shirts, can we expect any future Jaws merchandise on the horizon? I could see an Amity Gazette logo working or perhaps one for the Aurora, the research vessel Hooper doesn’t go on because he has a shark in Amity – until he does go on it in Jaws 2 which is where ‘he’ calls from.
Mike from LETN: As I mentioned before, we have an Amity Harbor design in production at the moment.
DN: You have a brilliant picture of the month competition where people send in images related to the t-shirt and films that inspired them. Do you get any good Jaws ones?
Mike from LETN: There’s a couple to be found in our Best Picture of the Month section.
DN: Just as the success of Jaws spawned a host of imitators Last Exit has had its fair share of rivals emerge, how do you keep ahead of the game?
Mike from LETN: Competition has always been a good thing for us in many ways. It keeps us on our toes and makes us work harder.
As LETN embarks on the dawn of its second decade Jaws has remained a dominant sales species and just as Jaws had a presence from the companies outset, with the now retired yellow Amity Island top, it’s rather fitting that in LETN’s anniversary year we’ll be getting a new Jaws-related design, Amity Harbor, to continue flying the film’s flag. When it comes to sales of t-shirts, hoodies, mugs or caps, Jaws still packs one hell of an impressive bite radius.
Discover more about Last Exit To Nowhere by visiting www.lastexittonowhere.com
By Dean Newman
If you would like to contribute a guest blog, please visit our ‘work with us’ page