UrlfreezeShops visited about:blank at its London-based studio, sitting down with founders Jack Henderson and Perry Davies to delve into the brand’s integral approach to design.

When surfing the web, you may have come across about:blank. It's a page that appears when there's nothing else for your browser to display, operating not as an actual web page itself, but rather a fundamental part of your computer's internals. If you haven’t been paying attention to the world of fashion recently, it’s unlikely that this integral, yet banal, computer feature will have rose to the fore of your consciousness, instead floating around in its digital ether in relative, unassuming anonymity.

However, if you have been paying attention to the current fashion zeitgeist, then about:blank will likely have formed part of your awareness, not as innocuous digital jargon, but as an energetic young brand cutting through the noise of contemporary streetwear. about:blank utilises its digital muse as a springboard for its design ethos, taking this idea of fundamentality, of something consistently being there, and applying it to clothing.

Garments are therefore designed under the brand’s mantra of “Contemporary Minimalism”, taking elements of the traditional and fusing this with a distinctly modern outlook. about:blank’s clothing is refined, yet relaxed, elevated, yet inherently wearable — ultimately designed to be modular, long-lasting components of your wardrobe.

With this interview Feature, UrlfreezeShops visits about:blank at its London-based studio, sitting down with its founders Jack Henderson and Perry Davies to delve deep into the young and up-and-coming label, touching upon its founding principles, its approach to design and the stylistic pillars which shape its output.

First of all, can you introduce who you both are and a little about your background before founding about:blank?

Perry: I’m Perry, originally from Norwich, Norfolk. I spent most of my life in Norwich and then moved to London for Uni. Then my first job out of Uni was as a menswear fashion agent, with no experience. From there, I spent the next 10 to 12 years doing wholesale before I met Jack and then we started the brand.

Jack: I’m from the North East, Consett, which isn’t too far from Newcastle. I’m previously from a marketing background, working for agencies in Berlin, New York and then London — which is where I met Perry. I really started getting into fashion around 2015/2016 when I started an Instagram menswear fashion page, NCL Gallery. I’ve been working in content creation and Instagram on the side since then.

The name about:blank is a literal metaphor evoking the integral nature of the garments you create for the modern wardrobe. What led you to the naming of the brand and can you speak about its importance for your overall ethos? 

Jack: It’s something I came across a few years ago, but at the time I didn’t really know what it meant – I just liked the way it was written and how it sounded. For a while, we were going back and forth with all these names, while also designing collections at the same time. It just so happened that what we were designing matched the name. So, for those that don’t know: about:blank is the page that appears when your web browser has nothing else to display, it’s not the page on the internet, but rather something internal in your browser. You can’t actually get rid of about:blank — it’s part of the system and it’ll always be there. The bottom line is, about:blank is exactly what it sounds like: blank, minimal pieces designed to last. So those elements — the boxy computer, the minimal screen, something that’s there all of the time and something you come across everyday — ties in quite nicely with the brand. But we did go through several names in the early stages.

Perry: Yeah, the naming thing was difficult. It’s easy when you want to name your brand after yourself, but we couldn’t call it like “Jack Davies” or anything. So, we went back and forth for ages, sometimes we would sit on a name for a few weeks and then decide “no, we don’t actually like that”. But it was Jack’s idea and we always liked “about:blank”, where we would have it all lower case and with a colon in between the words. We then knew that could be implemented in the range as like a little sign off.

"It’s all about traditional menswear with a contemporary feel to it, so taking those traditional pieces and making them cropped or oversized, resulting in something preppy, something clean."

This idea of being integral and part of the everyday suggests pieces that are essentials, but despite that, there’s an obvious sense of refinement and elevation with your brand. Why is it important to focus on both balancing the everyday and elevated when creating product?

Perry: I live in the brand now, there’s hardly anything in my wardrobe that isn’t about:blank. We always try and create products that we want, so Jack and I wanted to start wearing denim again, so we thought let’s do some denim. Eventually, we’ll probably say “we’ve never done a suit, so let’s do a suit”. We want to have product we can wear all day every day, so naturally you get that balance with product we create, ranging from sweatpants and tees to our trousers.

Jack: It maybe comes from both of our personal styles, which is traditional in a preppy sort of way, but also has that contemporary element. For example, the pleated trouser that Perry’s wearing — it’s a very traditional pleated pant, but the fabric and the elastic waistband gives it a sort of stretchy, comfortable feeling, bringing it into the contemporary world. Those pleated trousers can be worn every day with a pair of trainers, but they can also be dressed up and worn with a pair of loafers or boots.

about:blank is centred around the tagline of “Contemporary Minimalism”. What does “Contemporary Minimalism” mean to each of you?

Jack: Things that are contemporary, by definition, are things that are happening at the same time or happening now, whereas minimalism is like living a simple life — it doesn’t necessarily mean blanks or unbranded things, which a lot of people refer to it as. It’s living a simple life with things that are carefully selected. With “Contemporary Minimalism”, we’re trying to bring those traditional pieces into the modern world and make them contemporary, creating product with an emphasis on quality, fit and longevity, which ties into that minimalistic aspect. In a literal sense, you can see it in everything we do, so there’s contemporary minimalism in the lookbooks, where we take mid-century design — which is traditionally associated with maximalism — and contrast this with the modern concrete and the metal and the wood, bringing it into the contemporary world.

Perry: When we first started out, the brand was initially really clean. We kept the branding element down as much as possible to keep it minimal. Obviously, as you grow and get a lot more exposure, customers start to want more branded product. You know, you put out a t-shirt that’s heavily branded which maybe isn’t that minimal, and then it’s your best-selling product. You think, “okay, this is obviously working”, so we need to try and offer the consumer the contemporary minimal product like the trousers, the cardigan, the knitwear, the shirting or the outerwear which just has small branding sign off. This also has to be complimented by branded, predominantly jersey-based product which isn’t necessarily minimal, but it sells and it compliments the more minimal pieces. This cardigan I’m wearing, for instance — it’s a traditional piece, loads of brands do them — but how can we do it differently in our aesthetic? This could be cropped with elongated arms, for instance.

It’s difficult in the modern fashion landscape, especially for young brands, to gain traction quickly. about:blank has proven that despite adversity — founding the brand in lockdown for instance — that quick growth is possible. What do you think has been key to this?

Perry: Jack *laughing*.

Jack: I was thinking about this, and I think it’s a combination of both our backgrounds as to why it’s been a success. When you start a brand, you need to plan and have a clear vision of what you want to be. I know a lot of brands and they don’t know where they want to get to, but we knew exactly what we wanted to be from early days. All my experience before has been in marketing and social media — having NCL Gallery and really understanding Instagram even before the influencer times we’re in now. But I always come from a cool standpoint, everything we do I want it to look sick, I want it to look aesthetic, I want it to look minimal. Perry comes at it from a more commercial view — and probably a more realistic view as well — so he’s much more organised than me. So, I’m there coming up with shoot ideas with the vision and the creative, whereas Perry is putting it into action and doing it.

Perry: I think the growth came towards the beginning of last year. I had a couple of friends who owned brands that said “you guys have already got an identity or an aesthetic, where you’ll see a lookbook and say ‘that’s about:blank’”. Brands take years to find that — at times it’s deliberate, other times they just fall into it. You never really know what path you’ll end up taking with what consumers buy your brand — you have your ideas, of course — but you never know for certain. We found that quickly which I think massively helped us.

Jack: It boils down to my marketing experience and vision and Perry’s commerciality and execution, with those four ingredients combined with relentless commitment.  

"With “Contemporary Minimalism”, we’re trying to bring those traditional pieces into the modern world and make them contemporary, creating product with an emphasis on quality, fit and longevity."

What stands out for me when it comes to about:blank is the way garments are not viewed as singular pieces, but rather components of entire outfits — something evidenced in your meticulously put together look books. How important is it to emphasise this modular approach to product design and the subsequent wearing of garments?   

Perry: For us, from the off it was always going to be about looks. Most retailers or brands do singular flat lays — which we do now as we know it’s important for conversion — but when we first started, we specifically aimed to say “right, we’re going to do all our e-comm as full looks”. I still feel really strongly about that now.

Jack: From my experience working in marketing and with previous companies, everyone would be so afraid for their clothes to be styled in other brands. But we came at it with the approach of not everyone will be able to wear full about:blank, so to put the product in that situation: A, gives people styling inspiration, but B, sells the product more as they know how it works with other things. Also, I don’t know if we meant to or not, but we started designing the collections so it would all fit together. We still wear the original cardigans we launched with trousers we launched two months ago, so it all fits together, tying back to that modular approach as you said.

Perry: Regarding the fact that it’s interchangeable, I’m not too sure that’s something we think about, to be honest. I think because the product is us, we just design what we want to wear, so I think inevitably a lot of stuff just works together.

about:blank’s output is very contemporary, though in a way that references time honoured stylistic codes ranging everywhere from streetwear to the more sartorial leaning. What would you say are the biggest style influences for about:blank?

Jack: Looking back at traditional pieces and the overall aesthetic, I would say ‘90s Ralph Lauren and J Crew. Also, in terms of styling, we’re both obsessed with Tyler, the Creator, aren’t we?

Perry: Yeah, we use Pinterest a lot for inspiration and Tyler is always on there. But it’s all about traditional menswear with a contemporary feel to it, so taking those traditional pieces and making them cropped or oversized, resulting in something preppy, something clean.

Jack: Quite often, especially when we designed Autumn/Winter ’24, there was lots of things we had down as references which were quite old traditional pieces. We were looking at them and thinking “how can we make that about:blank?”. Hopefully, with some of the fabrics you’ll really see that in the new season product.

Jack, I know you are also the founder of another notable platform in the world of fashion, NCL Gallery. What learnings did you take from this and apply to about:blank?

Jack: I’m going to say everything, but it goes further than NCL. That was obviously a massive factor, but before that I was so obsessed with social media anyway, so on Tumblr etc. Having NCL from 2015 and picking up traction from 2016 onwards, that was before the influencer age, so I have such an understanding of Instagram — how it works, how it’s changed over time — which definitely gave us an advantage.

writerJack Grayson
|photographerSamantha Taylor