Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared + Lazy Oaf

The dark puppet series gets transformed into apparel, with inside references galore

Yellow Guy, Red Guy and Duck Guy: the adorable, innocuous-looking puppets of the darkly humorous original series “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared” have become YouTube stars by taking viewers on unexpected “educational” journeys that go awry—involving bloody animal gizzards and catchy musical numbers. (This one is definitely not for the kids). In just five episodes, each of which explores subjects ranging from the internet to the concept of time, creators Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling (who also designed and directed the music video for Tame Impala’s “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”) have instilled psychological fear and more than a few nightmares in millions of people—many of whom have spent a good amount of time decoding the various Easter eggs within each short. While Sloan and Pelling finish work on the sixth and final episode of this series, DHMIS is launching a full collection of apparel in collaboration with the equally wacky and wry folks at Lazy Oaf this coming Friday.

One DHMIS episode takes about three to five months to produce. “The show is very mixed media and there is so much craft involved which takes a long time!” Sloan tells CH. “Each set is a life-size room entirely made from felt so we become immersed in a cartoon world. It’s a really fun process apart from the smell of raw meat, but we’ve got used to that now.” She adds, “There is so much color, pattern and text you can take from the show, it was easy to translate them onto clothing.”

Like many Lazy Oaf pieces, the shirts, skirts and accessories catch the eye—regardless if you’ve seen a DHMIS episode or not—with bold colors and prints, but it’s the fans that will be rewarded bountifully. There are references galore among the clothes, from memorable lines like “I’m friends with my dad” and “Get creative,” to that mysterious date 19 June that seems to make a systematic cameo.

“I definitely knew that I wanted to make a garment representing each of the main characters,” says Sloan. “It was really important to use different materials and textures to represent the characters and have interactive details like the zip mouth on the yellow guy jumper to make it more fun! We also wanted to create a garment or outfit for each theme: creativity, time, love and computers.”

“The challenge was how we can make it childlike, but adult at the same time—much like the series,” Lazy Oaf founder and designer Gemma Shiel tells CH. “I read on one of our DHMIS collection Instagram posts a comment that said ‘Only Lazy Oaf would do this’ and that made me feel really proud! I always look for projects that resonate with me and what the brand is about. In this case DHMIS is funny, creepy, dark and delivers the unexpected which drew me in straightaway.”

Lazy Oaf’s knack for seeking out the right collaborative partnerships and creating something fresh has certainly contributed to their growth in exposure. “We love a collab as it gives us the opportunity to move outside our comfort zone and I get to play with someone else’s toys for a bit and make them my own,” says Shiel. “We like to choose projects that are unexpected and perhaps a little neglected in the current market.” Who can resist a fluffy pink Casper the Friendly Ghost sweater, or an apathetic Garfield “cat nip” crop top? But we’re most pleased that Lazy Oaf is turning more often to local, human talent—such as last year’s “A Fun Project,” showing off the work of six illustrators—and now, DHMIS.

The 15-piece collection launches this Friday, 22 January 2016 online as well as at Lazy Oaf’s brick-and-mortar shop in London, plus select stockists. There’s plenty of offbeat, bold apparel on the website to occupy your attention until then.

Images courtesy of Lazy Oaf