‘Die-hard’ Def Leppard fan Craig Smith has co-founded Project Presents, a luxury merchandise label that has collaborated with one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. Fellow heavy metal fan Jill Theobald rocks out (and tries not to not geek out) as she hears more from the trio behind the business and its Leppard Lyrics range

“I first went to see Def Leppard in August 1979 with a friend in Sheffield – 42 years ago – so you could say I’m a long-term lifelong fan,” says Craig Smith, co-founder and director of Project Presents.

“It’s just been a constant in my life ever since then to have Def Leppard there and I wanted to use my passion for their music to give something back to the band which is where the idea of Leppard Lyrics came from.”

His fellow co-founder and director James Holland is also a fan of the Sheffield band and a good friend of their bass guitarist Rick Savage.

“The first album I ever bought was Hysteria and I absolutely loved it from day one,” says the entrepreneur. “I remember saving all my pocket money up to go and buy this compact disc!”

Together they got in touch with retail specialist Fraser Rowlin who was recruited as creative director of Project Presents, their luxury merchandise label. Fraser has over 20 years’ experience working with high-end fashion houses and his award-winning luxury store stocked some of the biggest brands in the industry.

We aim to grow the brand introducing other artists and concepts on our own online platform.

It was from this point that the three friends from Sheffield began the partnership.

“Then Craig came up to me and said: ‘I’ve got this crazy idea’ and I’m always up for crazy ideas!” laughs James.

The idea was for Project Presents to produce lyric-based merchandise for their favourite band with ‘Leppard Lyrics’.

Craig said: “I had this idea for Def Leppard T-shirts with lyrics across them which really mean something to people. The more we talked about it, we knew it needed to be limited edition and 100 per cent organic cotton so they are high quality.

“We’re also mindful of the fact it’s not just a band T-shirt – it’s special, so it must wash well so people can constantly enjoy the experience of wearing and owning it.”

Fraser explains: “They wanted something special and liked my eye for detail, presentation and ethically sourced products – something unique in small numbers that was cut beautifully to sit within the luxury platform that I believe ours is.”

James continues: “I mentioned to Rick (Savage) that luxury merchandise has not really been done with you guys and I think it’s a massive opportunity. Rick said ‘show me some graphics’ and it started from there, really. We met the management in Sheffield, showed them some designs, and they were really impressed with them.”

Rick Savage said: “I’ve known James for a long time and his attention to quality, taste and workmanship is second to none. I know this will be reflected in the Leppard Lyrics clothing line.”

Project Presents create pieces which “transcend genres and captivate the imagination of lifelong fans and fashion connoisseurs worldwide,” says Fraser. “Using some of the best fabrics and one of the biggest print houses in the UK, the brand is essentially ‘Turning Merchandise into Luxury’.

“Creating a label with James and Craig and the first collaboration being with Def Leppard is an honour. Luxury brands is all I know and to be able to put my experience into something special is a dream.

“Hopefully, we’ve kept it within the Def Leppard family doing something great for us and for them.”

The trio have indeed kept it within the family – literally, as Rick’s son Scott Savage has chosen to front the Leppard Lyrics campaign.

Scott had already set his sights on a career in modelling when Projects Presents was still in its infancy. It was a ‘serendipitous moment’, say the team, when it became obvious he should launch that career showcasing clothing that celebrates his father’s band.

“I’m really looking forward to modelling these clothes,” said Scott, “and would like to thank James, Craig and Fraser for giving me this opportunity. I can’t wait to get started.”

The first campaign is the Black Light Project. Scott will be wearing UV-activated products which pay homage to 80s black light posters and the band’s most famous lyrics. This is showcased on T-shirts, sweats, hoodies, and fine art museum grade paper and all produced in limited numbers. The campaign was shot within Project Presents’ HQ, housed within a World War 1 military barracks located in the heart of Sheffield.

Project Presents will then launch the Leppard Lyrics project – all hand-finished, produced in limited numbers, and supplied with bespoke packaging. This campaign will be shot on location within Def Leppard’s original rehearsal studios – Portland Works, Sheffield.

Rick said: “I’m delighted that they have asked Scott to get on board with promoting this cool and exciting new brand.”

The collection is to be one of many, with other artists and brands already in mind.

Added Craig: “We aim to grow the brand introducing other artists and concepts on our own online platform to begin with – with a view to going on to be sold within luxury department stores and independent retailers, as well as other high-end web platforms.”

“We’ve got some really exciting projects in the pipeline,” agrees Fraser. “Leppard Lyrics is just a taste of what’s to come.”

For more information visit:

Online: projectpresents.com

Instagram: instagram.com/projectpresents

Facebook: facebook.com/ProjectPresentsUK

Twitter: twitter.com/PPresentsuk