New Vintage Clothing Company
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
David, how are you doing?
Great thanks. How are you?
Very good thanks.
Please tell us about your background and the background to The
New Vintage Clothing Company.
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.
Iím glad you called it football and not soccer!
Well, it took me a while, you know, but Iím back in the UK
now. I still say shopping Ďmallí for my sins though.
Donít! I notice that Lord Sugar has started to call a 'CV' a
'resume' on The Apprentice which is another Americanism.
(Laughs) I coached in California, in San Francisco and at that
time Ricardo was setting up his business, The Vintage
Clothing by The New Vintage Clothing Company
Was this at the time that Beckham was over there?
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.
Itís just that Vintage is such a big scene going on, isnít
it James? Why is Vintage clothing so huge?
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
And they get it at a really good price, donít they?
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.
Would you say that Retro and Vintage is, relatively-speaking,
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.
And you can be environmentally-friendly.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Thatís a good trend. Which Vintage items would you recommend
for someone new to Vintage clothing?
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.
Is a lot of the original Vintage stuff too small for the
modern bigger shape?
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.
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?
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.
What gives you most pleasure about what you are doing?
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.
That generated a huge amount of business for you?
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.
What sort of feedback do you get from customers?
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.
That is a USP of yours.
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.
How many of you at The New Vintage Clothing Company are there?
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.
That's not bad going, is it?
Weíre very proud of the team weíve assembled and are
always looking to build and move forward.
What are your Retro and Vintage passions?
I think it's the music, style and fashion all rolled into one.
Can we see you driving a vintage car?
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.
What plans have you for the future of New Vintage Clothing
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.
There's a big scene in Yorkshire and that part of the country
for Vintage, maybe more so than anywhere else?...
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.
The day's of the old north/south divide are long gone, aren't
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.
Wow! Well, thanks James. Best of luck with all of these
developments. Your excitement and passion is really
(Laughs) Thanks David.
Clothing by The New Vintage Clothing Company
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
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!
our facebook page Ė The
New Vintage Clothing Company Ltd
Photography by Ė Andy