Years of Tears is a clothing brand by SlikSyd founded in 2020, a year after his previous success with BySlik. Syd's road to success was a dynamic one making him one of the most exciting characters in the game. He’s gone on to build a loyal, cult-like fan base who have gone hard for whatever he's done. In this video I'll be taking you through that road, from the fit pics, to BySlik to Years of Tears and beyond. Now this video is a long one so sit back, relax and enjoy.
The Syd Story
Firstly let’s talk about Syd himself. Syd is a young man in his early 20's from the UK. He came over from Zimbabwe with his Mum, speaking no English. His mum brought Syd to the UK against tradition, as in Zimbabwe, they are more accustomed to leaving their child behind. This formed part of Syd’s motivation and ambition, wanting to do everything to repay his Mum.
She told Syd, “Do what you want to do'' and that gave Syd the green light to chase everything he wanted to do. He was balancing BySlik with uni studying Fashion PR and generally believes in education opposed to being a college dropout. He advised people to pick subjects that relate to exactly what they want to do as it comes to an overall more peaceful life.
Syd first got into streetwear after seeing a guy come into school wearing a few streetwear pieces such as the Ozweego's and another time a Bape Shark Hoodie. After initially telling him his Ozweego's were dead, he then went on to research them to get them himself. He actually thought they were good but didn't want the guy to know as he disliked looking like he was copying people. The same happened with the Bape Hoodie in which he asked what brand the guy was wearing. He then went home and researched everything about Bape so that the next day he knew everything about the brand. He even knew the different era's including Pharrell and Nigo. He liked Bape’s big and bold designs as they stood out to him. This was important to him as at the time he was shorter than his peers. While it felt natural to him, he also felt isolated because his style garnered a lot of attention in the area he was from. But it also allowed him to influence others who then went on to dress similar to him.
From there, his interest in streetwear just grew, helping him get to where he is today. It also led him to discover Billionaire Boys Club, another one of his favourite brands at the time for similar reasons. He thought the brands go hand in hand. He wanted the same effect with both brands BySlik and Years of Tears. His interest in the brand piqued when he saw Pharrell wearing it and discovered their skate team, Ice Cream.
Syd’s relentless curiosity for wanting deeper knowledge on topics is what continuously allowed him to discover more brands and understand the streetwear world. Streetwear got him into skating and along that road he discovered more brands such as Supreme and Fucking Awesome. His will to learn can also be seen in his work as he has rapidly developed his craft in a short space of time. I think many people overlook the levels of the jump from BySlik to Years of Tears.
Syd went on to showcase his style on Instagram which helped him build a good audience. His style was unique at the time and while he doesnt like that term, a lot of people referred to it as the Y2K aesthetic. While I'm also not a fan of the term either, his style was very bold and colourful, filled with baggy silhouettes and a clear influence of Japanese fashion.
Today, He has a darker, more gothic and punk style. The brands that he wears and is inspired by include Vivienne Westwood, Alyx and Givenchy. More on that later.
Syd was accustomed to posting fit pics on instagram but felt there was something out there bigger for him. He felt a brand was the next big step. He's a strong believer in designing for yourself instead of others. This makes sense as one of the reasons he decided to design was because he couldn't find stuff he exactly wanted. He loved denim. It was the first piece he officially dropped. After reflecting on it, he realised it was his country's national fabric.
When starting a brand, the basic thing people start with is a T or a hoodie. However, Syd felt that was too easy and hard at the same time as he generally didn't like T’s. He sticks to wearing plain and simple T’s but as a child he was introduced to denim so that's all he knew and wore. This made it easy for him to design on.
His design process comes from simply living and showering. While the thinking aspect is the hardest bit for him, digitising it into a design comes easy to him.
Now it's important to note the first piece he designed was a phone case, however the denim was the first piece of clothing he designed.
Syd isn't fan of gatekeeping and likes to give credit where it's due. Whether it's credit to design references or what his friends are doing, he likes to ensure that people get their shine. He doesn't like taking people shine and would rather give people the platform by fucking ith them. From then on, they can build their own platform with their own personal fan base. He also feels it's dishonourable not giving credit to inspirations.
Syd also produces music videos, having shot, directed and edited music videos for his friends Lancey Foux and Fimi Guerrero, more on them later.
The BySlik Story
His first pieces included a praying skeleton printed across 2 legs with a skull printed on both back pockets. Further designs experimented with colours, different images and print placements. He even dropped rugs and joggers.
This design was inspired by a biology class in school where he saw a praying skeleton in a book. He went home to design the denim, however didn't get them produced for 3 - 4 months as he felt something was missing. This led him to coming up with the back pocket print. Part of the process that inspired this move was the Billionaire Boys Club Running Dog Jeans.
On the 8th september 2019, BySlik dropped. These were the Signature Dead Prayer Jeans retailing for £75. You had to sign up for the password which dropped at 6:30. By 6:45 everything sold out. He then dropped more 15 minutes later at 7 and they again sold out in 15 minutes. Syd described this as the craziest day of his life as it was life changing for him. He watched everything sell with his Mum. She didn't understand how it was happening and as she was in disbelief he simply explained “This is what I've been working on all this time”.
In 2019, he reached out to Lil Baby saying “Yo, you in london?”. He then blessed Lil Baby with a pair who shared love to them and resshared the pair to his story. At the time he was at 2k and had many people checking out his page. Lil Baby was in London at the time for a show and went on to record music with DBE. Syd then ended up seeing Trippie Redd in them even though they didn't even start selling them.
Syd has mentioned that his business partner did him wrong, however this clearly didn't stop him as were about to discover the Years of Tears Story.
The Years of Tears Story
As Syd matured and his style and interest developed, Years of Tears was born. This brand had a more personal story plus a darker aesthetic that represented the Punk scene. It's significant to note, as the punk aesthetic made a resurgence at the time. Brands such as Rick Owens propelled this move. Of course we have to mention Syd’s inspirations such as Vivienne Westwood, Alyx and Givenchy. Carti and WLR, his Opium artists and various other rappers using the iconic rage beats also helped propel this aesthetic. Social media went crazy with memes, tiktok sounds and a new wave of fit pics. But we're not here to talk about that, maybe in another video.
Moving back to Years of Tears, it first launched on the first 1st November 2020. Syd’s first collection was based on a TV show called Forever Knight which resembled vampire diaries. This blossomed his interest in vampires, bats, wolves, full moons and the entire aesthetic overall. He once turned to the running dog design as inspiration and intended to use a wolf. After finding that it's too similar to the dog, he then turned to using an upside down bat which he fully owns. These were the flying bat selvedge denim jeans which were £100.
When you break down the name, Years stands for all the years of hardship he and his family endured from little food, money, rough sleeping situations and issues with transport. Tears stand for Tears of joy after he's generally overcome that phase of his life.
Today, Years of Tears pieces consist of leather and oversized silhouettes with Bats, asterisks and Osbatt being embedded over pieces. What's significant to note is that Syd has mastered the art of detailing with every piece seeming to have details you can't miss out on. The leather sets are arguably his most iconic designs which I believe retails anywhere from £300 - £600. They've come in a myriad of colours, I personally think the rusty yellow is the best out of them but let me know what you think.
The white and blue is also one piece worth mentioning and was inspired by a Fubu Jacket.
One piece that we absolutely can not forget is the Leather Gilet. This piece is a much beloved piece in the Years of Tears locker and has a lot of history behind it. When Syd originally posted these on his personal page, people went crazy for it. The padded down leather jacket vest featured a quarter zip, a collar with bullet ribbing, bat detailing around the vest and of course the upside down bat embroidered on the back. After posting these, Syd actually realised they were manufactured wrongly and he ended up disliking the design. Which is probably why we never got it. That being said, we can still have hope for it to drop as Syd explained that he's revising the piece until he's happy with it. He generally doesn't like putting ideas to bed and learned that after doing that with the Bat Jeans. There's actually more history to the piece. Syd gave away the gilet to a close friend. After falling out with them, his friend went on to try sell the vest for £400 - £500 after failing to sell it for an original price of £1200. The guy never shipped the item when he was able to finally sell it, however the gilet was eventually bought by someone in the Years of Tears discord. While it's unclear who this ex friend was, Syd was not fond of the situation telling the guy he had “no honour.”
Staying on the topic of shady business, Syd does have copycats. This is actually something Syd is calm with and somewhat supports. On Aliexpress, you can get a pair of fake BySlik x Years of Tears Denim Jeans, it features Michael Myers back pocket prints and a bat on print on the crotch.
A surprising fact was that Years of Tears was his original idea before BySlik. He had the aesthetic and designs when he was about 15 but never felt comfortable in that style until he grew into it. It also seemed like at first he called it Osbatt, and if you didn't know what Osbatt meant, I'll let the man himself say it (in video above). When his first samples came in, he hated how they looked but after he wore them, he realised it all came out better than he designed.
Years of Tears has been a big challenge with him talking about quitting at times with his friend Bami. However this is something Syd has now managed to keep going with. The difference compared to BySlik was going from design to product purely because of all of the complexities involved. One example is the Osbatt T. He described that as one of the hardest pieces to create. We've already established that he doesn't like T’s so when it came to designing it, he was trying too hard with it. He eventually had to simplify that process and reflect with questions before he concluded on what the T’s design. While Syd was used to brainstorming designs in his mind, he also went 3 months without designing anything, however this phase of living allowed him to refresh his mind and get creative again. He bounced back with leather trousers that had a metal tag on the back of the jeans. This was inspired by a dog collar and a few Vivienne Westwood designs.
While BySlik had mass appeal, Years of Tears was the opposite. The pieces were more niche and for people who knew what it stood for and knew how to wear it. When you niche down your brand to one aesthetic, people go hard for it. It's evident as Syd often refers to his audience as “Kult” due to their crazy antics and support. He alo refers to his audience and movement as the Black Flag Militia. Syd used BySlik as an experiment for Years of Tears proving to him he can do anything. He’s sampled pretty much everything with both brands but compared to BySlik, Years of Tears contains more of the refined and high end stuff.
With Years of Tears, it's something he wants to be known for. He's grown out of his denim phase and doesn't want that to be his image anymore. Years of Tears is his channel to show the world he can do anything. Syd calls the brand a “life” as opposed to a brand. This can be seen with videos and editorials being uploaded to his several YouTube channels as well as his plans to extend other creative ventures such as music videos.
In, starting Year of Tears, Syd came with strong self belief as he thought if you did something before you can do it again. He put everything into Years of Tears to make it work. However it was still difficult for him. Apart from the fact his old business partner told him it wasn't going to work out, it was also mid covid when he started, so there was a lot of uncertainty. That being said, everyone was at home on their phones. This gave him reassurance that he could get the eyeballs he needed. YoT really birthed out the pandemic as Syd needed something new from the repetitive lifestyle during the lockdown.
The Years of Tears page is mainly used to announce drops, whereas his personal page usually previews those drops. If you take a look at the Years of Tears’ Instagram page, the colours are very muted, almost black and white. This is meant to resemble a bat's visions as bats are colour blind.
From the get go, you'll often see him refer to 10V. Now if you didn't know, 10V stands for 10 vibes. This is a term Syd made up based on an instagram story he uploaded captioned 10v, when listening to a song in a car. 10V is essentially like a reference to a collection of brothers and sisters. Now who are we referring to when we say 10V relevant to Syd? Well first we have
Bams or Bami, he has his own brand called Angeles. Bami is one of Syd's closest friends with the pair having manifested a lot of words and dreams in conversations.
We also have Josh Rossiter who I believe may be a model, either way he's always rocking several brands in his fit pics, including Angeles and Years of Tears.
I can't talk about Josh without mentioning Sora, as these two are like a duo. Sora has uploaded a lot of vlog style videos of what he and the whole circle get up to. Syd describes his relationship with the duo like Ian & Carti or Yams & Rocky.
Then we have Fimi Guerrero, and young and upcoming artist also associated with them. Fimi signed to 10V in summer 2020. I think it's a possibility that a few of my friends do some sort of managerial work for Fimi with the record label. My guess would be that Bami and Syd do a lot of that work.
We also have Velli. Velli is a photographer and videographer. His portfolio can be seen on his instagram. He's also made edits and videos for Fimi and Lancey at shows and produced music videos for both of them. I believe he's made a couple vlogs with everyone overall.
Last but not least we have Lancey Foux. Lance has been a long time friend of Syd and is one of the hottest talents rising out of the UK , bridging into the American music scene. He already knew of Syd and looked up to his group before Syd reached out.
Syd has a very good relationship with Matthew Williams, after reaching out one time, he and Matthew developed that relationship. Syd has spoken about how Matthew keeps tapped in with his life by engaging with his page. On his birthday, Matthew gifted Syd a few pieces from Givenchy and Alyx. Don't quote me on this but I think Syd also got a personal invite to Milan for fashion week by Matthew. At that show, he was also able to meet Lancey and Destroy Lonely.
Syd actually reached out to Lancey in LA with his simple “Yo” message. Lancey fucked with Syd straight away, wasting no time in reaching back out. Their relationship evidently developed from there on. I believe Syd even made custom pisces for lance. Syd has also spoken with Imran before. This made Syd realise you don't need huge accolades to message people you think are out of your reach.
Another artist who rocked with Years of Tears was Central Cee. At the time of this video, Central Cee is the hottest Uk artist and arguably artists of 2022. Now Central Cee actually rocked with Years of Tears since the beginning, having hit up Syd. Unfortunately for Syd, he never saw the message until a year later. It's clear to see he's tapped in as he was recently spotted in the Year of Tears logoless leather set and has even repped Angeles on a red carpet.
Syd has also linked up with Chito to get his office tatted, he also did custom work on one of Syds Givenchy bags. Syd has also made a collab piece with artist Dersim for his brand Peccavi. He’s gained recognition from Kwengface, another Uk music artist.
Syd is also very tapped in stating that he has a piece from every London brand. He buys from brands with his fake name “Cornelius Birkin” which is also his twitter @. You're probably now thinking about Corteiz, and he actually admitted to also having pieces from them, Clint and Syd linked up a few months ago. In addition, Syd had some good things to say about Clint (in video above).
Syd has even gained the attention of Floyd Mayweather. He knew Mayweather's son but didn't know Mayweather knew him so he was shocked when he and his security were calling his name in Selfridges.
The Marketing Story
When it comes to marketing, the best description I can give you is Carti. Stay mysterious, drop scarcely and preview unreleased pieces. The only time Years of Tears are active is when they're dropping. No ads, no influencer marketing, no real major marketing campaigns. It's all organic marketing where people go out their way to create that hype. This brand essentially gets round through word of mouth. Mystery just evokes curiosity. The reason you're watching this right now is because you're curious to know more. Mystery keeps you hooked. Not to mention the niche audience the brand targets. Syd teases the fans by previewing unreleased pieces. He also uses his story to show designs and him at manufacturing factories.
Part of what's formed his loyal audience is the Discord. The only way to get in is through invite, but with a bit of snooping you can find yourself the link too. Syd has even created exclusive drops for discord with early access and exclusive pieces also being available to the discord. The discord is definitely one of the most active I'm in, so the love for the brand is definitely there.
Lastly for marketing, it's important to note that before Years of Tears launch, Syd actually had an in-person event where he gave away old BySlik and some Years of Tears clothes. This was at the time when he was changing his whole image and swag. He wanted to bring out a face to the brand in real life, rather than just being online. The event took place in Bermondsey, London. He posted the location a day before and didn't expect many people to turn up. Eventually around 300 people tuned up with some even coming 3 hours early and some coming from outside of London. It caused people to fight over clothing that Syd threw, neighbours to peer out of windows and of course police turning up. In the midst of this, Syd actually messed up the drivers car but he ended up being cool with it, Syd paid off the driver and even blessed the driver's son with some pieces. This location was near tower bridge so it's hard to pull off an event like that there, however he was quoted saying if ‘this is somewhere you don’t want us to be, I’m going to make sure we’re there.’
The whole event motivated him but also kept him humble, which is a virtue he highly values especially as you gain notoriety. After taking everything in at the location, he went on to shoot a music video and design more pieces while being full of endorphins. He also realised how real everything is as he was used to just seeing numbers on a screen. Having an event allowed him to materialise all the support.
The Future Story
I have no doubt Years of Tears will be a brand in the game for years. The aesthetic and overall way the brand has come together makes for something long lasting and it definitely has a place in the industry offering people who like that style a brand to look at and invest in. Not to mention it's a breath of fresh air from your typical UK brands. Syd aims to do runway shows and get a penthouse in the future, something he's often talked about with Bami. He also hopes to go in house with the brand similar to Bape. He wants to make Years of Years made by Years of Tears. Some future pieces to look forward to is maybe a Years of Tears pillow plus further home decor pieces, a potential collab with House of Errors, hopefully the Givenchy collab like Syd aspires, a hooded YoT mesh top, the bat chain currently exclusive to him, a wedding dress for his wife and maybe even music, who knows. (all mentioned in video below)
Syd has his eyes set on making YoT a movement rather than a just a brand. He wants to expand on music videos, editorials and cinematography almost like a cult classic. He aspires to use it as an avenue to have his audience do what they like on a personal level. He wants people to use Years of Tears as a symbol of being yourself, in hopes it holds similar respect to the word “anarchy”. With this movement Syd will look to support the next wave of talent, whether it's Fimi, people from the discord or others, Syd just wants to be tapped in.
Now we've almost come to the end of the article meaning we break down what we can learn and take away.
1. Firstly, Shoot your Shot.
Don't be scared to reach out to people you want to get in contact with no matter how big. Now of course make sure your page looks good and is set up well. No one is going to collab with someone who has no profile picture or no pictures. Show the world your talent.
2. Niche first, Mystery later.
If you want a cult-like audience of loyal supporters, find the niche you want to target. Preferably one that's small and polarising. My niche is underground fashion. Then once you've built a decent following then you can instil the mystery, IF you want. This is what Syd did whether it was purposefully or not. You don't want to act too mysterious from the start as you kinda have to make a name for yourself. It’s difficult to do when you're a new brand. A lot of underground rappers tried this strategy and it just doesn't end up well.
3. Stay true to yourself & Set no expectations
Now there's a lot more lessons we can take, but I'll leave the last one from Syd himself. He believes in staying true to yourself and being unapologetic like Virgil. If Virgil stepped into LV trying to be something he's not, it probably wouldn't have worked out because it's not him and LV signed him for him. Also don't have expectations for things, instead have hopes. Things won't always go your way and there may be better opportunities for you out there.
Now that's the end of this piece, I thoroughly hope you enjoyed it. It was a mission trying to piece this together so all support is appreciated. Don't forget to follow our Instagram page.
What do you think of Syd, the brand, 10v. Let me know in the comments.
This was the Years of Tears Story.
Written by @kelly.ach