Shout out Digbeth
What is Bene Culture?
Bene Culture is an independent retailer of local and international streetwear brands. We also stock our own Bene Culture line and a range of hand-picked vintage pieces. We launched our online store just over one year ago, and in April of this year we opened our physical store in Digbeth, the creative heart of Birmingham.
What does the name mean?
‘Bene’ means good in Italian and is linked to our motto – ‘It’s all good.’ We chose culture because we are striving to hit as wide an audience as possible – the idea is that whatever individual streetwear style you have, our store will have something for you. The name represents our ethos to bring creative people together, whatever their background – it represents our mentality, the products we stock, the way we work and the people we work with. We want to emphasise a good culture from the top to the bottom of our business.
What’s the aim of Bene Culture?
The aim of Bene Culture is to create a platform for independent streetwear brands, artists, musicians and other creative individuals to showcase their products or skills. In the long term, we really want to help develop and push Birmingham as a creative hub. We try to encourage and support up-and-coming brands by giving them a chance to see their products in a physical store, supporting with brand launches and giving guidance to help them grow their brand. We also want to work alongside more established brands, for example by providing a new platform for their products or developing ideas for events in Birmingham. We want to collaborate with people with diverse creative interests, as well as creating ways for them to meet and work with each other.
Do you think your brand helps cultivate sub cultures?
If so, how and why?
Streetwear, as a genre, is vast and constantly changing and this is reflected in the range of brands and art that we stock. We choose pieces that are innovative and unique so we can attract people from different backgrounds and environments, and with different interests. We try not to limit ourselves to any particular subculture, and we hope that our ethos would encourage people with different subcultural interests to feel a part of what we are trying to create in Birmingham. For instance, we recently put on an event called “The Gallery” which brought together a range of different artists and photographers who might have never otherwise exhibited together. We want to represent the diverse range of subcultures within Birmingham, and if that helps to support the development of existing – or even new – subcultures, then that is a bonus.
How do you choose the brands to stock in store?
Ultimately, we fill our store with brands that we love ourselves. Each member of the Bene Culture team has different ideas and styles that we like from a personal perspective, and we definitely try to bring that passion through to the business side of things. We focus mainly on independent brands because we know how hard working the people behind the brands are – all the brands we work with are constantly striving to improve and expand their lines. We started with the French brand Tealer and now we have 16 independent brands stocked in the store including SCRT, Hoodlab, Sol Sol and Alcatraz Beach Club.
As well as brands that we approach, we are always happy to be contacted by brands who are interested in working with us, especially if they are Birmingham-based.
What is your goal as a store?
We were so lucky to get this store in Digbeth and its an opportunity we want to make the most of, not just for our own brand, but for people involved in the creative scene in Birmingham generally. We want people to feel like our store is a place where they can come and hang out, chill with the owners and have an opportunity to meet other local creatives – and hopefully, buy some stuff! We are also using the store to host a range of events and exhibitions to give local brands, designers, artists and musicians a chance to showcase their talents. We want these events to attract more people to the area, whether they come as consumers, sellers or individuals who just want to meet and talk with some interesting people. The store is basically a gallery for the range of brands, magazines and art pieces that we feel offer something a little bit different – this may vary in terms of the styles, processes or quality, whatever catches us really. In terms of our own Bene Culture products, we want to do something that goes beyond standard t-shirt or hoodie styles that are associated with streetwear, and this will be a big focus in our next collection.
What’s it like running a fashion store so far away from London?
There are pros and cons to it; the biggest downside is the fact that so many people move to London as soon as they start to blow up because there are so many more opportunities there, especially in terms of the streetwear scene. It’s really frustrating to constantly lose such talented local people to London, so we hope to help create similar opportunities to encourage people to stay in Birmingham and put the second city on the streetwear map. This does give us an advantage in a way, because there are only a few stores that stock streetwear in Birmingham so there is less competition, and brands are more willing to collaborate and work with us to help Birmingham make its mark on the streetwear scene. There is a massive amount of potential in our current location and we think it is realistic that Digbeth could be to Birmingham what Shoreditch is to London, and our dream is, for our store, and for the designers and artists that we represent and work alongside, to be at the forefront of that.
How does your personal style reflect in the curation of brands in-store?
Every member of the Bene Culture team is responsible for researching and sourcing brands and when we started the store we agreed that we would only stock products that we love and would wear ourselves. We all have different interests and views on what we think makes a good product and we feel that the process of feeding this back to other team members has helped us to create solid product lines which appeal to different audiences. The store gives us all an opportunity to meet local people and get an idea of what products they would like to see in store, so we try to ensure that the brands we are bringing in reflect not only our personal styles, but also that of our customers.
Check them out on IG here.
Shot by Tom Silvester.
Edited by Daniel Hawksworth.