Tom catches up with Simon Suphandagli
Most of you may know Ejder For Life as the online boutique for a lot of independent contemporary menswear brands. Some of you may have been to their events that they’ve sponsored or even some of their past pop up stores that they’ve held. They’ve just opened a store called The 24 Hour Ejder Club; a split store, with The 24 Hour Club in Subway 4 of Old Street’s tube station in London. This being such a huge step for the independent label, I went down to the store, shot some photos, and spoke to the Owner of Ejder, Simon Suphandagli.
Tell us a bit about yourself and Edjer?
So my name’s Simon Suphandagli, I’m the CEO and Founder of Ejder. How did i start Ejder? Well Ive always been into underground Japanese streetwear ever since i was a kid. I was always that random guy in my hometown who was dressed like a Nutter, it used to be my hobby man, i used to come home from doing whatever i was doing and that’s what i would spend all my time on, like trying to find that ‘very rare piece’ yano, chasing that Bape, chasing that lifestyle. I fell into youth work from a young age, worked on that and went on journeys with young people, helping build a community and empowering young people was always a corner stone of what i did. So i quit my job in 2012 and went travelling, mainly in Thailand and i came across this mall, like a department store which was focused on like independent brands and designers, i remember seeing it and i kept taking my girl back there. I just kept thinking that this was sick man, how they had all these designers I’ve never heard of before who were very cool, very on trend, very affordable. I remember thinking how sick it would be to get this shit back in England. Back then it was just High Street and High End, so i came back, my friend was just starting up a brand at the time so i spent a lot of time with him, just shadowing him really almost like interning with him. That’s kinda how it began, i jumped on Instagram early, started posting on that, i used to be on a forum called Bape Talk which was like a community where people would post and talk about, everybody had a similar interest, at the time i’d ask people if they were on Instagram and they’d just look at me like.. ? I started posting like my latest pick ups, life style photos and i developed a bit of a following on there. I met another brand that was just starting up so i had two brands and then that turned into three. I started posting pictures in their pieces, getting a good reaction from that. i turned to them and said i’ll stock your clothes, you give me a percentage, i’ll market it on my website and my followers will see it. It wasnt just about stocking clothes, it was about putting everything together like the models, the garments, putting it together with more established brands like Balenciaga or Pyrex (contextual reference). We’d put all of that together and we did a shoot in London and it just kinda blew up from there man, went wild on tumblr etc, that was the beginning and we kept progressing from there.
Why Old Street? Why London?
This is an ongoing thing because obviously London, we all know is very expensive, so i had a lot of people around me saying, “yo open a shop in birmingham”, i even thought about that because it was a lot more accessible to me because thats where I’m from, it’s cheaper and it was closer to home. But in my heart i always knew that Ejder belonged in London. It’s where the majority of our community are, it’s like a global audience, most people who come to England come through London. AppearHere, the company in which we used to do all our previous pop up shops with and built a good relationship with over the last 3 years, were made aware of this space and they contacted us immediately. The guy there said that this space would be perfect for Ejder, knowing who we are and what we do; I came and saw it and fell in love with it. It’s a great location, being near Shoreditch and east, it’s literally an underground store, for an underground brand. It just worked perfectly. We already have quite a big following online, so that enabled people to know where we are and what we do. The store itself is an old toilet and shower room from the Victorian era; it was literally just was that when we walked in.
So much has happened for Ejder in the past 3 years especially, did you anticipate this sort of success?
Everything that we’ve accomplished has been so organic. When started Ejder it was just something i wanted to do, like it came from pure interest, a hobby and passion. It’s what i loved and it was what i wanted to do, i didn’t think ‘oh my objective is to open a clothes store’, it was just a fashion lifestyle and doing what i was interested in. We did an Event in Paris which was sick; but to then be standing in Toronto at the pop up store that we did with CNTRBND, I was just thinking like we’re out of the continent here, like this is serious, we’re on the other side of the world doing this. It was definitely a bit of a moment for me. It’s all based upon building honest and genuine relationships with people.If we didn’t move in the right way and weren’t as honest and truthful as we are, these things wouldn’t be happening. We don’t have all the money in the world to be throwing into all of these different projects, it’s just purely based on keeping shit real man, staying real. As for the store, I think it was just natural progression really. People had been at me saying ah you know ‘you need a store, you need a store’ and i thought that was years away, but being given the opportunity with this space, that’s been made a reality now.
You mentioned the pop up stores in Paris and Toronto, you also did some in London for brands like Midnight Studios and M+RC Noir, why do you think they were so successful?
I can’t really comment about the stores in general, but before everything was online based and it gave us the opportunity to solidify relationships with people we had built online. The first pop up we were meeting people who we’d known for a long time, but then never actually met. You know what I mean like, technology is the future but there’s something magical about having an in-store and personal connection. Luckily for us these stores enabled us to create and grow those relationships; the same for other people too. In terms of the pop up, it provides the opportunity to have the impact of a shop without putting up the massive amount of money needed to open an actual store.
What’s next for Ejder?
I try not to box myself in by having two stringent kind of plans in place,however there’s obviously a direction that we’d like to take. But for now, the next year is all about making this store a successful one and developing things, taking everything into the next league. Also, after the end of this year it will enable us to have a bigger space which gives us the opportunity to create a social terminal for young people and creatives to come and network. I want somewhere where people can come and chill, work, have photo studio in the back, MacBooks, food, drink etc.
What’s next for yourself?
Just to keep pushing and to keep working really, it’s what i’ve been doing and will continue to do. I didn’t mean to call it Ejder for Life but it is a lifestyle, but the irony in it now is that it literally is, because i don’t do anything else apart from this. I did a 14 hour shift here yesterday from 10-12 and then worked until 3am when i got back to the hotel, all i do is work man. So just to keep pushing, keep developing and keep trying to create opportunities for people and brands and kids out there.
Thank you Simon
Safe man, take it easy.
Words by Tom Cadogan; also styled and shot by Tom Cadogan.
Modelled by @pxtta – The jeans on the model are C2H4, pink hoodie is NDG Studios, Jacket is Neige Clothing, White hoodie is M+RC Noir, the hat is Places + Faces and the Jacket is MISBHV SS16.