Proper Interview: Kenneth Mackenzie, 6876

As part of our ongoing investigation into what all our dead cool mates are up to during these strange times today we’ve had a chat with Kenneth ‘6876’ Mackenzie. Read on to find out what the great man had to say about turning 25 , the state of the world and the return of a certain jacket….

Kenneth, how the flipping hell are you? 

Generally I am well and ok despite the current situation.

How has lockdown affected you on a personal level and also with the running of 6876?

Personally I have three Children (11,16 and 21 year old at Art school in Glasgow) so it’s been quite testing but ultimately rewarding and we’ve just tried to be careful and doing simple pastimes. 6876 I’ve actually decided it’s time to develop new relationships and be proactive using it as a small brand as an opportunity. To clarify that I mean to reaffirm relationships, ways of working and identity. Also we are going to make the website more of a store in terms of showcasing other brands and featuring written or graphic matter such as magazines and photographic prints. 

I’ve found my vinyl collection and a coffee frother to be absolute godsends during enforced isolation, what’s helped to keep you sane during lockdown?

As a family we cycled all over London and I found it to be really good for health mentally and physically.

Speaking of music, your Def Disco series of playlists have proved very popular on the 6876 site, when are you going to do one and what kind of stuff will it feature?

Ah that’s a hard one! which is why I haven’t done it so far as I’d prefer just to ask friends and be surprised plus educated by them. My listening tends to be a mix of favourites and what my kids are listening to which I really enjoy….my view was always play them everything, give them the vinyl and CD’s then wait for them to soak it and come back with what they’ve discovered. 

The brand celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, will there be any big celebrations? 

 I’ve been torn between wanting to do something and not being satisfied enough to feel that it should be marked i.e I always feel I should be making more product and developing more projects so i’d rather do that. Although we are releasing the first jacket I ever designed now called the 1995 jacket which feels more honest than selecting a favourite item. 

What have been your highs, lows and all round memorable moments so far running 6876?

High’s kind of easy when a style comes together, having loyal customers and all the relationships that have been forged. Lows are pretty numerous such as having to stop the brand for a year when it was really growing in 2002 and the frustration of the limitation of resources etc.

Were there any other names or combinations of significant years that you’d considered before landing upon 6876 as a name?

To be honest not really, from the start it was always going to be 68 and 76 seemed a natural partner….I just wanted to reject the notion of a designer using their name it felt too egotistical. 

How as a designer do you think you’ve changed over those 25 years?

Initially I think I felt pressure to not repeat styles and then I just grew to accept that it was my aesthetic so I could use my resources as I thought relevant. However I think I always design in a reactive way in terms of shifts from say a more sportswear perspective or a more classic or military influence. If what I see around me starts to become too omnipresent I just react and go the other way. 

The new Rugby shirts you’ve created with Columbia Knit are most impressive by the way, are there plans to do any more pieces with the Oregonian brand?

It’s the start of a shift in terms of the type of brands we will work with and the way it’s created. Some will be showcasing the partners’ product others will be more collaborative and more design led. Brands we will be working with are Sigg,Obra and Sanders.

As someone who’s political opinion I’ve always considered very sound, what’s your take on the state of the world these days? Is it worse than ever or just a continuation of the usual madness but just with better coverage of the chaos?

I think we are at a crossroads as in certain countries there’s millionaire populist leaders who are very dangerous such as Johnson,Trump,Putin and Bolsanaro who have created a kind of authority through chaos and very little substance / fact. And the forces of good seem to be unable to counteract these people in the traditional political arena. So I naively think it needs people to counteract in their everyday lives this selfishness and conflict culture.  However there’s also a kind of non political yet honest radicalism that we are seeing that is challenging all this such as the BLM movement. 

What does the future hold for 6876….?

To be honest at the moment it’s seeing out the chaos of the next few months and trying to be as optimistic / proactive and creative as possible…take some risks and use your strengths to maintain and keep progressing.

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