Doing it for the kids: how to start a DIY collective

Whether it’s a zine or a record label, students across the UK have started their own creative crews. Here are just a few…

The political movement

Cut The Rent, Bristol

Bristol, Cut The Rent - Press publicity image

Politics students would do well to have a gander at what Bristol’s Cut The Rent movement are up to, a pressure group whose aim is to get halls and private landlords to reduce their accommodation costs. When Bristol University proposed to dramatically increase their halls’ rent last year, the group picketed outside the decisive board meeting and persuaded them to consider housing bursaries. They’re also in talks with the University of the West of England to expand the movement to cater for all students in Bristol.

See also: Bristol Reclaim Education, Student Feminists for the Decriminalisation of Sex Workers, Students Not Suspects

The shop

The Closet, Manchester

Champions of secondhand style, the girls behind The Closet at the University of Manchester donate the proceeds from their charity shop to Mind and advocate stylish preloved vintage in the face of fast fashion. Recent grad and founder Ele Ward pitched the idea to her student union after a campus branch of RBS closed down and the building was left unoccupied. She explains: “Students have little money for clothes so we wanted to redirect their late-night ASOS buys to a sustainable charity shop on campus.” Threads start at a quid and the stock is quality (The Closet girls recently persuaded high-street fashion brand Missguided to hold their first ever UK sample sale at the shop).

The zine


Gal-dem magazine

From political updates to thinkpieces on how to expertly chirpse a crush, gal-dem provides a platform for women of colour to showcase their work. Frustrated with the lack of diversity at her university and in the media, editor-in-chief Liv Little started an online mag by reaching out to her friends. Gal-dem now has more than 100 contributors and is launching its first print edition on Friday. But the content is not all sociological, as Liv explains: “We can write about whatever we want. We’ve got a really good music section where we interview artists who don’t have to be women of colour. It’s just what we find interesting, but from our perspective.”

See also: Born n Bread, Creamer, Polyester

The club night

Bluewave, Sheffield and London

Freshers’ week is a student rite of passage but its parties usually fail to cater for those who have musical tastes beyond Avicii. On the other hand, you’re likely to be given a swerve if you head to a cool club without the right trainers on. Sheffield uni trio Bluewave have made it their mission to provide world-class DJs at inclusive parties since 2015, hooking on bass, grime, garage and house. Their biggest event so far was hosting DJ Q, Plastician, the Heatwave and Riz La Teef in an 600-capacity warehouse.

Founding member Elliot explains the key to sourcing good line-ups: “It’s like when you go to a market and you try and buy a t-shirt and they start with ridiculously high prices. You have to stick with your original price.”

See also: Thrillhouse, Night Of The Jaguar

The record label

Beech Coma, London and Leeds

Beech Coma Logo

Beech Coma’s story starts like many others. Harry Bainbridge (pictured, above), a recent Leeds English Lit graduate, launched it in 2014 as a blog featuring indie artists that he felt weren’t getting the coverage they deserved. However, when he later decided to make a physical version, his tape releases sold like the hottest cakes. “I got 13 artists who I’d written about, made a cassette, not expecting it to go anywhere, and it sold out in a week,” he says. Today, its roster includes Leeds “sappy punks” Bruising (above, right) and Stockholm’s Magic Potion (artwork pictured, centre). Beech Coma already has a monthly night at The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch and Harry’s planning to set up a similar event in Leeds this autumn.

See also: Super Kitchen, Chalk Pit Records, Rising Sun Collective


Amy Walker

The GuardianTramp

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