Kigu’s giant red pandas.
I kept seeing giant animals out at gigs and clubs and I thought I was going mad or that someone had spiked my drink with acid or something, but then once everyone around me started buying them and wearing them all the time I realised they were just giant animal suits. Obviously. I found out that they come from a company called Kigu based in London who import them from Japan, so I went and had a chat with Nick and Tom who set the whole thing up.
Hi guys, when and why did you decide to get in to the animal suits trade?
Well we got started at the end of last summer and it was basically because we saw the suits after somebody brought them back from Japan, and we just thought they were jokes so we saved a bit of money up and bought a few hundred of them.
A few hundred, have you guys ever done this sort of thing before? Not selling animal suits obviously but selling anything?
No not at all, I do a bit of writing and Nick produces and DJs, but we just liked the suits so thought we might as well get in to it, and it’s always a bit of a gamble you know – it’s a fucking animal costume! People could have just been like ‘what the fuck is that?’ And it wouldn’t have taken off.
What’s been the best seller?
The red panda definitely. Oh and the dinosaur coming in close second.
Is either of those your favourite? Or are there any others that you’d like from the animal kingdom?
I like the tiger, it’s quite plain but it’s just – I like the colours, and Nick’s got the cow one, but we had to get his specially made because he’s so tall. Other than them a platypus would be pretty cool, we get quite a lot of requests for that actually; platypus – platypi. Oh and I kind of want like a tortoise one as well.
Have you had any weird requests other than the platypi? Or creepy sort of bestiality stuff?
Yeah loads of weird requests, people say ‘can I have the red panda one?’ but then ask for basically everything to get completely changed, which I find kind of weird. Quite a lot of people ask for insects, and a few ask for sharks but that’s kind of a hard one – the shape of a shark’s head is a bit tricky. We’re starting a custom page on the site though so people can say whatever they want, send in a drawing and we’ll get it handmade for them in England.
Sick, did you anticipate people wearing them out as much as everyone seems to be doing?
Yeah, well we were hoping that would be the case. We didn’t buy them thinking people would be wearing them as pyjamas, we thought it would be more like people going out in them. Loads of people use them to go skiing in as well, which I reckon is better than those dickheads wearing suits and tuxedos on the slopes!
True. How has the industry reacted to them, have you had any requests for shoots or anything?
Well the people from ASOS contacted us so we did that link up with the Care Bear exclusive thing with them. And Urban Outfitters got in contact as well but I don’t think we’re going to pursue that; we want to keep it more of a small, sort of independent thing rather than try and sell it through them.
Yeah, I like the fact that there seems to be a bit of a community around them with the Kigu crew. What about the celebrities who’ve been pictured wearing them as well, has that helped?
I think that’s massively helped in terms of press coverage and stuff – but celebrities are just normal people in the end so if they like them there’s no reason why other people wouldn’t – so to be honest I think they would have done just as well without people wearing them in the press. And yeah the Kigu crew has been great; we don’t do any online promotion except for our blog and facebook so it’s just been word of mouth.
What about sponsoring the car in the Mongol rally? Were they friends of yours before?
No they just got in touch, told us about it, and we thought it sounded pretty jokes so we just thought why not? They’ve been good about putting our vinyls on the car as well and they’re nice guys so we gave them a few suits – giraffe, red panda, kangaroo and dinosaur. It’s good to be able to promote other people through the blog – we didn’t want to fall in to the trap of just putting up flyers and music videos and shit so it’s good to have it as an outlet where we can support other people. The custom suit thing just came about from a couple of people who work in Brick lane making their own stuff getting in touch on facebook, so it’s nice to be able to support them as well.
What other than those couple of things have been highlights for you so far?
The thing on the roof of the Queen of Hoxton was pretty good; it was literally when we first got them and we ended up selling a load of suits which was cool. Other than that it’s just been exciting watching it grow, I mean when we first got started we didn’t really know what we were doing, and we probably still don’t so it’s been amazing to see it develop.
What does the rest of the year hold? More developing?
Yeah, basically just trying to push it. We were going to do festivals but then we thought we don’t want to be those people who turn up at festivals with a thousand wellies or something like that and try and shot them to people. We made quite a jokes video the other day as well actually with the guys from Tactful Cactus and a friend from the BBC which was all green screen stuff, so that should be out soon too.
photos taken from the Kigu crew blog.