Skateboards, guitars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
We caught up with Sam Whitlock to find out what life is like, juggling a business, a five year old and compromising on video game choices.
First and foremost, what does Stylecreep mean?
Stylecreep is a term used in design to describe deviating from the original path to goal. And that’s something very in line with the way the brand has gone about its venture into the world of both business and fashion. We got to be constantly evolving and adapting, right or wrong. There’s not set path.
Thats easy to see that through the mix of brands you stock; has fashion always been something you’ve wanted to head into?
I left school at 16 and always worked in retail for independent clothing stores, after getting into managing and buying; I moved to a distributors called FourMarketing and worked the other side of the table! while there I looked after the UK sales for several designers including Raf Simons lines and McQ by Alexander McQueen. I used to show the collections to top buyers from all over the country and study the way they worked and their reasoning etc. some buyers were amazing and some completely sucked. It made me a really frustrated buyer, so I knew I’d get back into it.
And how does your wardrobe show for your time in industry?
Having worked in the fashion industry for a while, dealing with independent brand stores and high end brands, it was to no surprise that I had accumulated a large amount of clothing; and with a wife in the picture and kid on way, well,you know how it is. Turning to eBay, I found a huge demand for the clothes he was selling , archive pieces of SI, MCQ and RAF to name a few. It got to a point where the Ebay business was doing so well, he turned it into just that; a business.
So would you say your relationship with the industry has helped your venture?
The hardest part about launching a store is securing the right brand mix; having friends in industry had built me a reputation and trust, allowing myself to access brands that most start out companies wouldn’t be able to. Initially the idea of Stylecreep was that of something more conceptual, wanting to capture niche brands that follow the same ethos that we do; that is, quality over quantity, and less is more.
I’d agree with you there, most people would rather see something small executed well than something big done poorly. But small scale doesn’t always work for you does it?
(Sam laughs) No it doesn’t! The jump from selling small scale to large doesn’t always work; especially when your front room has turned into the stock room. I built an “office” in the back garden and Stylecreep was well and truly underway. We basically worked from my shed for the first one and a half years.
Was it your decision or the partners to move out the house?
(Sam’s facial expression gives away the answer)
So what happened next?
The shed was quickly outgrown, and the new residence was decided to be just off an industrial state in West London. I now run it with my best friend Ivor, my wife and my next door neighbour helps with my paperwork! the sense of family is very much there. Keeping the team small allows us to be very reactive, and not have to answer to a board’. The small stockist list also reflects the whole ‘less is more’ approach that seems to be working for the team.
So now I guess you’ve reached boiling point, right? You’re store is doing extremely well, so well in fact you struggle to cope. Do you expand and employ others; perhaps seek a financial backer? Or keep it small, and be content with what you’ve got?
It’s a really tough decision now, I started Stylecreep with a 10k bank loan; I have drilled every penny back into the business and we’ve got it to where it is now. It was easier at the beginning; I risked some money by taking gambles on brands / ideas Etc in theory it was only my neck on the line. Luckily it turned out well and a few risks paid off. Now I’m still pushing the company forward constantly but at a slower rate; I have to be sure I can pay and look after my staff as well as pay the rent and keeps suppliers happy loads of dull things like that! The business has always been run “hand to mouth”. I had more pocket money when I was in the shed!
I genuinely love what I do, I haven’t needed an alarm clock to get up in the morning for years. I work 6 days a week and most of theorise it’s a real pleasure going to work!
My first impression walking in to the store? Well, if Louis Ganellin had a walk in wardrobe, it’d look something like this. Workwear, workwear, workwear. Brands such as Levi’s vintage and Ben Davis amongst the likes of streetwear staples Champion and Carhartt. The centre piece being a beautifully curated space of Vintage Ninja Turtles and shoes. Kicks for daaaays.
Like what you see? Well for three days you can use the code ‘Basement20’ to receive 20% #BasementApproved
You can check their site out here.
Interview by Tayler Prince-Fraser
Photography by Henry Taylor
Special thanks to the team at Stylecreep