Celebrate Colour Is Sound’s first birthday!

What would you like for your birthday?

Music has been the soundtrack to my life ever since I was old enough to hold a tennis racquet in front of the mirror pretending I was in The Sex Pistols. My next-door neighbour was a Punk in 1978 and I loved his green hair as I supported Celtic. Next thing you know he’s lending me records such as Inflammable Material by Stiff Little Fingers and Never Mind The Bollocks. My young mind was entranced, setting in motion a lifetime of being in bands, going to gigs, blowing all my money on records and eventually clothes. In the late 90’s with poverty no longer an option, I finally gave up the life of a Giro sponsored DJ and songwriter to get myself a proper job. Reality bites.

Until June 2015 I was a teacher in FE, my wife (co-founder of CIS) also worked at the college. The government’s relentless cuts in funding had left most FE colleges punch-drunk, locked in a yearly cycle of restructure and redundancy, wreaking havoc with real people’s lives.  As a newly promoted teacher, now dickhead in a suit, (mind you, we are talking Mohair Tonik Italian Box Jacket suits) my job was to hold part of the scalpel which would ‘rationalise’ staffing, e.g. make people redundant.  I wanted nothing to do with any of it.

Non serviam.

CIS' co-founders Steve and Kate Philliben

Co-founders Kate and Steve

We couldn’t afford to not have jobs but after much soul searching we made our decision that sacking others was not an option that would sit well with our souls and so we handed in our notices at work, got part time jobs and set sail towards the coast of Colour Is Sound.

Taking music as inspiration, we set about trying to create original T-shirt art inspired by some of the most influential music ever made. We took a decision early on that our garments would be ethically sourced, not born in a sweat shop, made using only high quality yarns and materials. That our designs would be powerful enough to be considered art and that these designs tell a story, lovingly silk-screen printed by hand using environmentally sound processes.

Somehow, from an idea born on Brighton beach in the summer of 2015, we have managed to make it happen. We are doing something that we care about and we hope you do too.

There have been many highlights over the year and it’s always a buzz to see one of our Tee’s in the crowd at a gig. A standout moment that comes to mind is when The Action got in touch to congratulate us on our design inspired by their music. Kate and I got married to ‘Climbing Up The Wall’ by The Action, a band who will remain close to our Tonik hearts forever. That was a very proud day!

'Paisley & Tonik' Inspired by The Action

Our very own The Action inspired band t-shirt 'Paisley & Tonik', as part of our Modernists collection.


As we approach our first birthday this week, we would like to thank everyone who has bought a shirt or liked us on Facebook or followed us on Twitter.

We have not had one single T-shirt return since we started in December 2015 - which says everything anyone needs to know about the care that goes into everything we do.

If you're happy we are happy.

On behalf of the Colour Is Sound crew – we want to thank everyone for their support and interest in what we do. Have a great festive break and may 2017 bring you music from the spheres!

Watch this space – things are going to get very colourful indeed! You can check out all our collections here, and show us some love here!