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The New Vintage Clothing Company






The New Vintage Clothing Company

Here Digger talks to James Ash at The New Vintage Clothing Company, founded on a passion for Vintage clothing and fashion and with an ethos that includes promoting British talent and British manufacture.



James Ash


Digger: Hello James.

James: David, how are you doing?

Digger: Great thanks. How are you?

James: Very good thanks.

Digger: Please tell us about your background and the background to The New Vintage Clothing Company.

James: Ricardo Seaton and myself are joint Managing Directors. We met about nine years ago when we both worked at a mental health hospital. I was in education and Ricardo worked in healthcare, managing one of the houses. So we know one another from there and then started playing football together. I went travelling and coached football in America.

Digger: Iím glad you called it football and not soccer!

James: Well, it took me a while, you know, but Iím back in the UK now. I still say shopping Ďmallí for my sins though.

Digger: Donít! I notice that Lord Sugar has started to call a 'CV' a 'resume' on The Apprentice which is another Americanism.

James: (Laughs) I coached in California, in San Francisco and at that time Ricardo was setting up his business, The Vintage Wholesale Company.  


Clothing by The New Vintage Clothing Company

Clothing by The New Vintage Clothing Company


Digger: Was this at the time that Beckham was over there?

James: It was a couple of seasons before and I was actually running the youth development for Beckhamís rivals, San Jose Earthquakes. Beckham was at LA Galaxy. I came back and Ricardo had set up a vintage clothing business. As I was finding out about it I decided I liked the idea because Iíve always been into clothing and the fashion scene. I thought about if for a while and then for a year I was buying and selling on eBay and a few other avenues, just testing the water and getting some experience. Learning the trade so to speak. And in mid-2009, I was actually working at Rampton High Security Hospital, which is one of three in the UK. I went from a career that I got a huge buzz out of and really loved into what I saw as potentially a big opportunity. I jumped in at the deep end and quickly discovered there was a lot to learn in business and in the Vintage industry. I learned quickly with the support of Ricardo and other friends that I have in business.

Digger: Itís just that Vintage is such a big scene going on, isnít it James? Why is Vintage clothing so huge?

James: Itís always been there. Itís not a new thing. The popularity now is bigger than ever. Before, it was underground, and I remember in my mid-teens being in Leeds and popping in to a Vintage clothing store and I didnít quite get it at the time. But I was a but young and I wasnít into fashion as much as I was a few years later. Itís just exploded really. People love the quality and they like the uniqueness.

Digger: And they get it at a really good price, donít they?

James: They do get it at a good price. And they know that if they buy a piece they love and they walk down the street theyíre not going to see someone else in the piece. Thatís a massive selling point and something that we do pass on to our customers and promote to them, both our retail and wholesale customers. We also re-work items ourselves and theyíre all one-off pieces too.

Digger: Would you say that Retro and Vintage is, relatively-speaking, recession-proof?

James: I would say so. Everybodyís always going to be buying clothing, thatís for sure. As you said you get value for money and if you are paying a fair amount for a piece it will be because itís high-end and a really rare one-off piece and therefore thatís got high exclusivity about it. You can buy something from a range of prices and within that you can get something special that makes you feel like a million dollars.

Digger: And you can be environmentally-friendly.

James: Absolutely. For us, we wholesale and retail our labels. We retail Rabbit Jelly which is brand new clothing that is Vintage-inspired and we also wholesale that brand. We retail our brand which is Rabbit Works which is our re-worked brand and we do all the re-working in-house. So thatís all done in the UK.  We see ourselves as supporting our national economy, not taking money overseas and people are loving that ethos at the moment. Our third brand ĎRare Ragsí is exactly what it states. Itís grade A vintage original pieces that focuses on designs and fabrics.

Digger: I think the government should be doing something special for all the Retro and Vintage companies because there are hundreds of them that Iíve encountered and they should be encouraging this Retro thing because itís so good for the economy in lots of ways.

James: Absolutely. What we found was, that although the price of cotton went up because of flooding in Bangladesh and Pakistan, what you had was all the big boys like Adidas and Nike warehousing two or three yearís worth of cotton and panic-buying so they didnít run out. That means all the small independent manufacturers who have their own labels suffered a bit because prices were doubling and tripling. It meant that offering Vintage-inspired clothing at the same price has been a struggle. And the availability of the cotton. What we found was although that had an impact on Rabbit Jelly with the original Vintage, because weíve got so many good suppliers and sources now, that actually our Rabbit Works and Rare Rags brands can thrive. Because weíve got an abundance of sources for Vintage clothing. I like to think of it as the Richard Branson ethos Ė when the airline was struggling he used the music company to support the airline and weíve done the same. Because we have a number of brands and wholesale and retail weíve got the luxury of other areas of the business supporting areas which are maybe not moving as fast at a particular time.

Digger: The global village observation is interesting. You mentioned cotton and itís noticeable that so may events, overseas, natural and man-made in the last few years, have had a knock-on effect to other countries including ours. Because the worldís so small now something will happen in one part of the world and it will have a huge effect on businesses here and everywhere else.

James: Thereís no greater example for me than whatís happening in China with their booming economy. Itís only a few years ago that China was the place to get clothing manufactured. You looked at India for your quality stuff and China was your cost-effective, high volume kind of garments that people were shopping for. Now we find that China are heavily restricting what they export because theyíre looking at their own markets now where thereís such a high demand. Weíve already got our foot in the door with UK manufacturing.
Weíve got our own team in-house that we use for design and manufacture and we also use other UK manufacturers as well. We are also working with tutors at colleges and universities to promote people working on projects on textile and design courses. We want to develop local talent and also potentially we could provide jobs if we found people who could fit our New Vintage Clothing Company mould. Weíre doing a lot of projects and not just looking internationally. But weíre drawing back and looking nationally for manufacture and locally for design.  


Clothing by The New Vintage Clothing Company

Clothing by The New Vintage Clothing Company


Digger: Thatís a good trend. Which Vintage items would you recommend for someone new to Vintage clothing?

James: I would always hesitate to tell anybody what they should be wearing. I truly believe what we sell is quality and the range that we have is strong. So yes I think there's potential for somebody to like and buy from us but I would support and promote somebody being unique and gathering inspiration from a variety of sources. Find inspiration from people out there in the celebrity and design world but also find your own kind of style as well. If you look at someone like Lady Gaga, she is seen as a style icon but she's doing nothing new. What she's done is piece together her style from the likes of Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Debbie Harry and adapted them in her own way. I would encourage people to go out and do that for themselves, to look for Vintage clothing and see what works for them. That's why we re-work as well, because so often we find fabrics that are amazing but the items might be too large or just lacking that little extra flair.

Digger: Is a lot of the original Vintage stuff too small for the modern bigger shape?

James: Both, to be honest with you. It can be too small or too large and that's where our Rabbit Works rework brand comes into play. Because we not only adapt sizing to be more modern and current but we also adapt the styling as well. We could be literally taking a 1950ís dress and adapting it onto a denim jacket. You're then mixing Vintage with Vintage and creating a one-off unique piece that is desirable to the modern market.

Digger: Are there any concerns with sourcing these original items and fabrics? Are they finite or does there seem to be a continuous source of supply?

James: Again, I would touch on our strength in supply and sourcing. The fact is that we've worked so hard and done business in such a good way - we're transparent in what we do and we treat people the right way and because of that people have stuck with us from the early stages of our business. We're sourcing Vintage clothing from around the world and selling it to all corners of the world in return.

Digger: What gives you most pleasure about what you are doing?  

James: Building a vibrant and successful team. Since starting business, Ricardo and I have put the business and our employees before ourselves. We really do thrive off of that because we're an excitable and a passion-driven team here. That's a big reason why we've been so successful in the first year we've been running.
Also, the other 'driver' we have is when we're doing trade shows and the contacts we make with customers and suppliers. We did Wayne Hemmingwayís Vintage at Goodwood last year. It was so perfect as a location and a festival environment but unfortunately this year they've taken it to the centre of London. So the costs go up and so it's not so accessible to all. 98% of the feedback was that people loved the event and the location last year so why fix something that wasn't broken? What they did last year  was to get the London regulars out of London and out of their comfort zone and all this is doing is taking it back into London where there's already a mass of Vintage events and festivals.
My biggest passion is speaking face-to-face with customers and we were the most successful company in the boutique area at the NEC Birmingham Clothes Show Live in December. With over 200,000 visitors we spoke to an awful lot of people.

Digger: That generated a huge amount of business for you?

James: Huge amounts of interest, business, contacts. Since then we've worked with two bands, who we've styled and photographed, and they're now being promoted with the likes of R and R Records and that's snowballing. We have contacts looking at doing internships here with us at the headquarters, so we've got people who are hungry to feed off the buzz that we have spent a lot of time, money and effort in generating.

Digger: What sort of feedback do you get from customers?  

James: They love what we do. The fact that we're Vintage-inspired and we go across the board, so we sell Vintage and re-worked and brand new stuff as well. The fact that we market ourselves as a company with brands that do that.

Digger: That is a USP of yours.

James: Exactly. You've got high street brands out there marketing themselves that they've got their finger on the pulse and are doing something very new when really we all know that they're borrowing from yesteryear. They're looking at the forties, fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties eras and taking ideas and rolling them into new pieces. That's exactly what we're doing, but we're not kidding anybody about it. We're proud to support Vintage style and inspiration.

Digger: How many of you at The New Vintage Clothing Company are there?

James: Within the company we have nine and then we also have people that are involved for events and busy manufacturing periods so the figure rises to twenty plus.

Digger: That's not bad going, is it?

James: Weíre very proud of the team weíve assembled and are always looking to build and move forward.

Digger: What are your Retro and Vintage passions?

James: I think it's the music, style and fashion all rolled into one.

Digger: Can we see you driving a vintage car?

James: It's funny you should say that. I've just got my eye on a convertible Beetle. That's what I'm looking at and also a Vespa scooter. We have Vintage radios and ghetto blasters around the office, along with typewriters and picture frames and old phones. It's an eclectic mix of Vintage pieces around that add to that feel.

Digger: What plans have you for the future of New Vintage Clothing Company? 

James: We're in talks now to open a flagship store. It will be in Hull, it's going to be a 2,500 sq ft store, so it's going to be big. We're doing it locally so we can get first glance at what's popular and what retailers want. We can then pass that on to our wholesale accounts.

Digger: There's a big scene in Yorkshire and that part of the country for Vintage, maybe more so than anywhere else?...

James: There is a massive scene in Yorkshire. Liam Gallagher's brand, which is 'Pretty Green' - their biggest sales area outside of London was Hull. So what they've done is got their product in a store in Hull now because of that popularity.

Digger: The day's of the old north/south divide are long gone, aren't they?

James: Exactly, and I really don't believe this attitude that you need to be down in London, because that's where it's all happening, for it to work. I completely disagree with that - we support local up-and-coming designers and photographers and stylists and that's proving very successful for us. And as we grow as a company, those people who have invested in us early on will be heavily rewarded when we're flying even more.
We're just on the cusp of opening the new store, we've got a meeting next week with a massive national company who will deal with our website. There's going to be a big overhaul of that and we're building a big new operational infrastructure behind the website and then a huge marketing campaign off the back of that website launch. So we'll be getting national publications and TV runs and we have contacts with stylists who know A-List celebrities who will put our items on them and firmly in the public eye. We have a financial backer who is looking at getting involved in the next two months and his aim for the business is to take us to an eighty store concept nationally with a huge push and drive and do what no-one else has yet done in the market.

Digger: Wow! Well, thanks James. Best of luck with all of these developments. Your excitement and passion is really infectious.

James: (Laughs) Thanks David.

 Clothing by The New Vintage Clothing Company

Clothing by The New Vintage Clothing Company

Born from a passion of Vintage clothing and accessories. Our aim is to bring you an extensive range of fabulous, head turning items, from new Vintage style to re-worked originals.
We research and commend the trend setters, fashion arbiters and taste makers from years gone by. In saluting them we canít help but feel inspired to drive our ideas forward by looking back.

The iconic, much loved rabbit jelly moulds, reminiscent of days gone-by inspired our name for the Rabbit Jelly Vintage collections.
Rabbit Jelly clothing reflects legendary colour schemes, shapes and fabrics portraying the influences of the groomed 50ís, the rock, mod and love styles of the halcyon 1960ís and the outrageous trends of the 1970ís and 1980ís.

Having access to some of the best Vintage clothing in the UK, USA and across Europe we hand pick our original items reworking them with unique twist and replicating these with a wide range of prints and materials.
Weíll do the modifying, you do the modelling!



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Photography by Ė Andy Houghton






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