A chat with Lucas Shanks, the mastermind behind the fantastic NYC-based streetwear-slash-kit brand.
How did the idea for TENS CLUB come about?
I wore the number 10 growing up specifically because of my favorite player, Lothar Matthaus. I admired and mimicked players like him, but later became infatuated with the creative brand of footballers in terms of their life, politics and style. I wanted to create something in the football space that told these stories, but because the daily churn of football content is exhausting, I felt that a timely, carefully curated newsletter was more palatable. What started as TENS CLUB, an exclusive football newsletter on the 10th of every month, quickly became a creative platform to release limited run apparel, vintage capsules and collaborations.
Talk about your 'inspiration photos': are they things you search out, or just come across?
In response to this Twitter thread.Each newsletter requires getting lost for hours down different rabbit holes on Football Internet™. Because everyone has Google and/or a Getty password, our goal is to find inspiration that hasn’t already been posted and re-posted across every copycat football Instagram account. That said, a surface-level search for a specific player might lead to a search about specific era, event, kit, sponsor, stadium, hairdo, legend or novel football concept. That’s where it starts to get good. We stumble into all sorts of weird, random stuff along the way, and that process yields more interesting projects.
How many photos are in the inspo folder?
2,833 unearthed, unorganized, unlabeled photos stolen from Football Internet™, which doesn’t include every photo ever pulled for newsletter inspiration or posted to our super secret Tumblr you can only find by asking Carter Daly on Twitter.
What was the thought behind making TENS CLUB so exclusive and private?
It feels more like a club. We learned that selling exclusively through the newsletter and promoting via a private Instagram account not only felt more on brand, it tempered our output and built a more engaged audience. We’re not interested in boasting massive numbers by shouting at the football community all month, we’d rather drive the conversation by attracting and inviting people to our little club only around the 10th of the month.
How many months in the future do you have planned out?
Right now, we have projects in the can through January, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes a project will inspire a newsletter concept and sometimes a newsletter concept will inspire a project, and sometimes that barely comes together a week before our deadline—but that’s the part of the creative process we love. We try to create proactively rather than reactively, and the pressure to produce one unique project every month is both fatiguing and invigorating.
What are your long-term goals for TENS CLUB?
We quickly realized the beauty of the TENS CLUB newsletter was that no one had any idea what it might become. Could it become a freestanding brand? Sure. Could it turn into a creative football studio and consultancy? That would be cool. Could we inspire a much-needed downtown football club/bar where we could also sell a small selection of football-inspired apparel? Hell yeah—we could be like Saturdays, but for football. Or, I don’t know, just spitballing here, but could Adidas’ Brooklyn Creator Farm take TENS CLUB in-house and give us the resources to cook up monthly capsules? TENS CLUB COULD BE THAT, TOO. So yeah, we’re excited even if not entirely sure where this is going to go.