Years of Tears: Built on creativity & community 

Years of Tears: Built on creativity & community 

“The name Years of Tears is more so a reference to tears of joy – not no sad sh*t”. 22 year old designer Syd finally cleared up any misconceptions about the brand name early on in our conversation. Joyful tears make more sense since he has successfully built a brand that the UK streets – and beyond – have taken a liking to for some years now. “Man’s bare happy bro, I’m a happy guy”, who wouldn’t be in his position? The likes of tastemakers Central Cee, Lancey Fouxx and Skepta have all purchased his products.

Make sure to include Syd – most commonly known by his IG handle Sliksyd – when you list the new gen of creatives that have curated their own wave, or buzz. How? By fearlessly creating designs they’d even want for themselves, and organically building a like-minded community. Young fashion heads globally recognise the brand’s signature logo of a bat: descending and outstretched, and the “OSBATT” acronym printed or threaded in a striking and menacing font. 

A new FW23 variation of the signature Years of Tears biker jacket, featuring the legendary embroidered bat. Credit:

That recognition and backing is all by the power of guerilla marketing and exclusivity. Years of Tears often goes viral for their unexpected street pop-us, where kids scramble for exclusive pieces that may never return. Then there’s the elusive discord community where members who tap in early get the latest on drops. Don’t forget the private IG with a 30k following, and the site which only actively updates when a new collection is ready. YoT is part of the rising group of UK fashion brands benefiting from mysterious, staggered or unexpected drops that sell out effortlessly. This “if you know you know” approach is working wonders for Syd.

Central Cee loading up for his 2022 world tour in full Years of Tears leather set. Credit: IG/Central Cee

Obviously, the design plays a huge part in why some supporters are even willing to pay others to get exclusive access too. For a self-made, local-gone-global brand, the quality is unbelievable. Take in the biker leather sets – dyed, treated and distressed to give off this shadowy faded effect. Some are finished off with a high thread count bat on the back. Others are embossed on the collar for a bite mark effect. The pink sakura racer jacket? 10/10. Well sourced and well thought-out fits put the tracksuits like the Pompeii set on another level. 

It’s no wonder the Years of Tears name has been ringing off in the ears of the high fashion circles all the way in Paris, down to Atlanta. Syd now counts designer Matthew Williams of Givenchy & Alyx as a friend & mentor, plus Lil Yachty & Lil Baby as two of his first few supporters. 

Now as he turns the heat up and ventures into womenswear, I finally got a chance to tap in with the honest, inspired & slick creative, to at last give his loyal supporters a deeper insight into his creative process and all the years of tears.

So Syd, how did you first get into fashion, and what pushed you to create your brand?

I got into Fashion through a friend of mine in 2013, in year eight. When I was about 13 or 14 I bought a Bape hoodie. I had gotten a job at a pub washing up plates – after lying about my age – and that’s what kind of funded my first ever piece of clothing. Before that, my mum would always dress me, so it’s kind of been something that’s always been in my life –  it was a subconscious thing. 

I see you were also a big fan of Bape and Ice Cream from early. How would you say Pharrell and that design era inspired you? 

Yeah, I’m still a huge fan of Bape and Ice Cream and anything Nigo-Pharrell related and their endeavors. I found out about Nigo through Teriyaki boyz. He was a Dj before design.

I think being a fan of Nigo really inspired me to make exactly what I wanted. That’s something that Nigo does, and I kind of try to embody that as much as possible. That’s necessary to be the happiest you can be. Nigo was able to sell 90% of Bape, clear all his debts, leave a legacy and give the kids something to believe in; which is the most important pillar in doing what I do. Most see this as a bad decision. However, I believe chasing happiness and your dreams can never be considered bad. I want to be able to leave the kids something to believe in. Even while I’m still here, I want them to be able to look towards someone or something, involve themselves in a culture and build it till forever.

Also, most people think that your best design depends on the time you spend on it. Your best design actually comes from the most inspired piece. All my inspiration & aspirations are very clear. I never tried to hide those who inspire me. I always try to give respect and pay homage to those people.

All the way down to the marketing, paying homage and showing your inspiration will take you very far as it has for me.

Your first major design – the Byslik kneeling skeleton jeans – gained support and momentum from the get go…how did that come about and what was that like? 

That was probably one of the most pivotal moments in my life, I didn’t know how much could come of it. A lot of people had brands around that time, but I still did not know what was possible. I remember being on the phone to my boy Bams.10v on the day of the release. I told him I’d be happy if we sell 10 pairs. I didn’t know the potential that I had. I’d never sold a clothing product – only a couple of phone cases. When I opened up the screen at 7pm – about 30 minutes after the early release – and saw the figure that day I couldn’t believe it.

The brand really came from me just sitting on a design that I made in a biology class in college. 

I never knew how much I could achieve as I came up from seemingly uninspiring situations, i.e. my biology class. To this day, I’m very thankful to anyone who’s ever double-tapped or has ever messaged me. Anyone that has ever just looked at what I’ve got going on. I’m very very thankful – but that [success] has never changed the hunger that I have. 

Pivotal moment: Syd with his first well-received kneeling skeleton denim jeans

What’s your highlight from that start to now? 

The highlight of my journey was the first pop-up we did back in 2021. There was something about having all the community outside after being inside for two years, which was amazing. I hope everyone that came will always remember that day.

How did this strong friendship & mentorship with Matthew Williams & Givenchy come about?

I woke up one day and Matthew had reposted all my posts on his story, and I messaged him. From there I guess the story tells itself. I think he’s more of a quiet mentor. I’m sure a lot of people think we are sitting in the room discussing everything. It’s more so me watching the moves he makes and me taking note of that and how I can make it happen in my own community. 

You even have support from Skepta, Oluwaslawn/Slawn, Central Cee, Lancey and graffiti artist Chito…how would you describe your friendship with these fellow creatives? 

My relationship with them is cool because they don’t want anything from me, other than wanting me to succeed. I think that’s the healthiest type of relationship. I definitely gotta give thanks to everyone that has supported me along the way.

I know a lot of people see them as the [superstars] that they portray themselves as. But, they were mainly my friends and family that were there when nobody could see me. Those times when I felt down, felt like giving up.

I think the first ever people to really push & support me were Lil Yachty, then Lil Baby. Crazy. They contacted me from early, when I was super young. The first kind of public support I ever got from someone I already looked up to was Lancey (LF). Everyone else was cool, but with LF, it felt honest, there was no ego, and there was nothing to gain. Just genuine support. He believed in me from when we first met.

Chito came to my office one day from one text and he just did two huge murals in my studio for free just out of love. I think it’s really only me and a Givenchy store that have those. It’s kinda crazy when I think about it. I’m forever grateful for that.

Other than that, I like to say I keep to myself. Some people may think that’s me trying to be mysterious but I’m really just living my own life. Some people are very open to sharing every single aspect of their lives,  but I prefer to just show what I want to share. I think that’s the whole purpose of social media.

What’s the story behind the bat inspirations and your “OSBATT” graphics? 

The true meaning of OSBATT is something only me and my friends know, it’s an acronym for something. The inspiration behind the whole brand quite honestly was growth. I came up on a community based system so I want to emulate that through my brand. Of course I started with clothes, but I want it to be far more than clothes. Fashion is something that gave me a sense of individuality in school. It’s so hard to be an individual there. The whole purpose of school is to push out a group of like-minded individuals & go into the working world like the generation before. Some people might prefer that, but I’m a forward and outward thinker. I never want to be under anyone or work for anyone but me and my family and my community. 

Inspired by community: the Years of Tears FW23 collection keeps the bat symbol going. Credit:

My designs and imagery are mainly inspired by Dame Vivienne Westwood (RIP) and the Sex Pistols. Without ever meeting her, there was a fire in her that lit one in me. I spent so long studying her come up and the culture she stood behind. One word to describe her would be anarchy. It’s not a word for some devilish, delinquent cult. The word simply means to do what you want. That’s how I live my life. The community she built and how her impact lives on inspires me. I’ve collected a bunch of her clothes since I could afford them.

That brings me back to the community. I’m a Zimbabwean yout. I was born there and know that real communities share everything. If you ask anyone who’s a part of the OSBATT community who’s ever needed anything and asked me i’ve had it for them. 

On top of your brand, you’re also known and respected for your personal style. What inspires your own style & what inspires your designs?

Recently, I’ve been f*cking with that Chicago 2012 Glo, True religion, fake Ralph Lauren, fake gucci …just the whole fake world. I been wearing fake outfits. I could buy the real thing but there’s something about the fake ones which just hit more. 

I’ve just designed a whole “fake” collection of Osbatt that’s ‘bout to drop this winter. I’m quite excited for it – just to see how it’s received.

Who’s your ideal consumer or wearer?

Confident people.

Unbelievable quality: The highly requested FW23 Years of Tears Pompeii set. Credit:

What would you say makes people support the brand so heavily? 

It’s honest. I don’t flood the market, and it’s inspired. There’s no gimmick – what you see is genuinely me at that moment in time.

Now what’s the design process like? 

The very first step for me is looking at myself in the mirror and understanding what swag I’m in currently in my own life. I can go weeks without designing one item. Then one day I’ll just go crazy, not sleep for three days and I’ve designed a collection. I call it the “psychosis bag”:  I really won’t sleep! I’ll just be on my laptop going crazy. I have an obsessive yet indifferent personality, so sometimes I’m super obsessed with completing something and learning about it. Other times I’ll just disregard it and put it down. Like right now I put down videography for the last 3 months to focus and zone in on Osbatt. I like to go on long hiatuses to perfect whatever I’m doing. At times, you might not see a release on my brand page for a while. Even up to 5 months because I’ll be working and living life.

Then, for like sourcing, I go fabric hunting a lot. I prefer vintage markets to actually touch clothes, take pictures. Or buy it and take it to my manufacturer to find the fabric. I think seeing it in an item helps me create a new one easier.

Bat signal? The Years of Tears FW23 shots suggest womenswear may be on the way! (Credit:

Do you ever feel pressured starting all this on your own – financially for example? 

Money to me is just a mechanism. I’ve gone broke so many times because of this. I really never cared about money until I had to. I never had money growing up in my village in Zimbabwe. Assets are more important. If you go to the village and ask Gogo (grandma in Ndebele) if she’d rather a new cow or the money equivalent, she’d choose the cow over the money. Once you spend money it’s gone. That cow can feed so many and provide so much more.

I guess it’s a bad mindset when it comes to future-proofing but man could die tomorrow so let me enjoy today. I’m 22 with the world at my feet. I’m gonna always try my hardest and best while I still can.

What can we expect from the most recent collection/drops? What were your own expectations too? 

Womenswear, I want women in my clothes. For this one I only worked with women, there’s certain things only they know about their bodies so I had to fully immerse myself to understand it. I’m still learning. And expect a bunch of new inspired men’s wear.

What’s the “North Star” end goal with yourself and the Years of Tears? 

Global Kult.

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