Digger talks to Dan at Soho's Alternative Wear.
Whether your look is Punk, Emo, Goth, Mod, Psychobilly or
forties and fifties vintage-style, Soho's can supply the
clothes that count.
With five flourishing shops in
the north of England and a bustling website, Soho's is the
place to be for the self-respecting image conscious who are
into Alternative Wear.
Digger: Can you please tell us
a little bit about the background to Soho's Alternative
Dan: Soho's has got its own
label as well as selling other brands. We've got five high
street shops in the north of England which have been going in
one form or another for more than twenty years. There's shops
in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Chester and Shrewsbury.
Digger: Some good locations.
Are they anything to do with you?
Dan: No, I don't look after
the shops. I look after the website, set-up in 2006. We
launched it to sell to the rest of the UK and the world.
Digger: What impact has The
Internet on what you do and on the business?
Dan: Yes, a huge effect. It
means we can interact and communicate much better with our
customers and reach a much larger audience. We sell all over
the world now, from the States to New Zealand.
Digger: Do customers seem to
care where you're based or is it not relevant to them anymore?
As long as you can get the items to them reasonably quickly
then they're happy?
Dan: Yes. A lot of it is to
do with time and with a lot of the people from abroad who want to
buy from us it's all based on time. We dispatch most orders
same day and get it to people in Europe and America within a
week. A lot of people are surprised that we don't have a shop
in London, being called Soho's.
Digger: New York also has a
Soho. What's in a name, eh Dan? So why do pop cultures like Mod, Punk
and Goth endure through the generations? They seem to get
Dan: Yes, that's a good
question. I think in the current climate the generation
around today face a lot of similar issues that saw the rise of
those cultures in the first place.
Dan: The clothing that you
might choose to wear can say a lot about yourself without
having to utter a word really. There are those that will
remain true to those original ideas. But, as with everything,
the styles are evolving all the time.
Digger: What are your retro
Dan: In terms of clothing?
Digger: I'm trying to visualise
whether I'm talking to somebody who looks like a Punk or a
Goth or a Mod or...
Dan: No, I'm a fairly
ordinary type of guy to be honest with you. Disappointingly
I'm not painted up like a Goth. Like our shops, I like a bit
of everything really - I don't stick too well to a particular
Digger: Who are your customers,
where are they coming from and what sort of feedback and
comments are you getting from clients?
Dan: Most of our customers
are in the sixteen to twenty-five year age range but
particularly now with the forties and fifties styles becoming
popular we've seen lots more people from all ages. We've had
loads of requests to stock plus sizes in the vintage style
dresses so we've put together a range of fifties dresses up to
size 22 which has proved really popular.
Digger: I've been involved with
a lot of nostalgia-related enterprises since 2001 and I've
seen a phenomenal increase in the popularity of it all. What
do you think that's due to Dan?
Dan: I think you're right,
it's a lot more mainstream as well and you see a lot more
vintage and retro styles in shops like Debenhams these days.
It's just turned into a really strong fashion movement but
it's still important to the alternative scene as well as the
Digger: People like Dita Von
Teese, who we've just interviewed, is really revolutionising the
burlesque and that's become almost mainstream now as well.
Dan: Absolutely, someone
like Dita Von Teese is responsible for bringing it to the
wider audience. Definitely. She does great work in terms of
bringing it to the masses - she can be right on the edge as
well but it's a fantastic thing that she's done for us as well
because it means the popularity of that type of clothing is
good for us.
Digger: Please tell us more
about the various clothing options you offer.
Dan: The styles we have - we
sell all sorts of clothes. Punk, Emo, Gothic, street clothes,
Rockabilly and vintage styles. Recently in the high street
shops, particularly Liverpool and Chester, they've been
branching out by popular demand into vintage clothing -
one-offs that they painstakingly hand-picked and selected.
Digger: Original vintage?
Dan: Yes, that's becoming
very popular - I don't think it's just a reaction to people
not having enough money these days due to the recession. I
think also that the retro style's an important part of alternative and
popular clothing as well.
Digger: It's also very good
value as well Dan. And if you buy something vintage you're
guaranteed that there's probably not going to be anybody else
Dan: Exactly, that's most
Digger: And the quality's there
because they did seem to make things to last in those days.
Dan: Absolutely, but in
terms of our mainstay - we sell an awful lot of fifties-style
dresses. But these designs resulted from one of the brands
called Hell Bunny. We sell their classic fifties-style dresses
but they also do fifties-inspired styles with an edge to them.
A Punky or Gothic edge to the designs which gives something
modern and different to a classic and vintage look.
Digger: A Retro feel with a
modern edge. What should that be called?
Dan: I suppose you could
call it Psychobilly - some people would call it that. Perhaps
it's wrong to always stick a label on something.
Digger: I thought Psycho Billy
was that mad guy who always misbehaves down the pub! (Both
laugh) What do you most enjoy about running the Soho's
Alternative Clothing business?
Dan: It's the range of
different people that I deal with, from the suppliers to the
customers, of course, but every day is different in this
business and it's always a challenge. We're constantly having
to keep up with changes on The Internet and what our customers
want. There's never a dull day in the Alternative Clothing
Digger: And it's good that
you've got the physical shops and they're strong as well so
you can keep in touch with what's happening literally on the
Dan: Yes, they're all going
very, very well.
Digger: Is there any temptation
to have shops further afield, maybe down south?
Dan: It's all about location
and management of the shops and with the cluster of shops in
the north it's less to maintain. If we were to put a satellite
shop out in London that's a logical next step to take.
Digger: Edinburgh would be a
good one too.
Dan: It would. But not at
Digger: Leeds is perfect and
Yorkshire seems to have such a big retro thing going on.
Vintage seems to be really big in Yorkshire.
Dan: Yes, a lot of the
vintage clothing is picked and the distribution is from within
Yorkshire so that drives that, but it seems to be that ten
years ago you used to be able to get your cheap retro stuff
from Oxfam or other charity shops. But the charity shops these
days have jumped on the bandwagon as well and are making good
money out of it. They've got very well-organised websites.
Digger: They're very savvy.
What items tend to be
the most sought after and the biggest sellers Dan?
Dan: Our leading brand is
Hell Bunny by far and it's the vintage-style dresses with an
edge that I was talking about. The Psychobilly. We still sell
a lot of Punk and Gothic and Emo styles but even our own Soho
brand baggy jeans are still really popular.
Digger: Are the chaps
well-represented on the site?
Dan: The Chavs? On our
Digger: No, not the Chavs, the
chaps - the blokes! (Both laugh)
Dan: Not as well represented
as I would like - the large proportion of our customers are
female and that is reflected in our offer on the website but
in terms of retro clothing our business is 90% female.
Although we offer creepers and some custom T-Shirts and things
like that, but it's the women that buy most from us.
Digger: And for the future Dan?
Dan: I read in one of your
other interviews "World domination."
Digger: Yes, and that was only
Dan: That's always the goal
but it depends on our customers to a large extent. We've got a
great following of loyal customers in the north of England -
that hot spot around the shops, and now we're growing our
following with The Internet. You know we've got customers all
over the UK using our website and now we're growing in
popularity in Europe and the US. So we're lead by what our
customers want styles-wise, for example the shops branching
out into vintage. But we never stop searching for the best and
Digger: You're doing well even
in a difficult financial climate. What will it be like when
the upturn happens?
Dan: That's when world
domination comes in.
Digger: Yes. Sounds like a
good plan to me.
Soho's have been
designing and making their brilliant alternative wear
collections for the past twenty years, and have
well-established branches in Liverpool (Bold Street),
Leeds, Manchester (Affleck's Palace), Shrewsbury and
Chester. Now the secret is out, and Soho's is online
selling vintage style, retro clothing, rockabilly,
cyber, Goth, punk and Emo clothing UK-wide and
internationally to anyone looking for retro, vintage,
alternative to high-street fashion.
At Soho's we take our inspiration from our customers,
not from the catwalk. Alternative fashion evolves on the
street, as budding stylists customise their own look -
our designers are always looking for ways to make this
easier. You'll find that our range is very much
mix-and-match, so you can express your creativity by
combining basic pieces with accessories and jewellery
for a style that's unique to you.
As well as our own designer label brands of Emo, punk
and Goth clothes, we also stock other well-known brands
and makes, such as Death Kitty, Hell Bunny, Mercy,
Criminal Damage, Iron Fist and others. We're always
looking for exciting new designs and styles, so if
there's anything you'd like to see available here don't
hesitate to suggest a brand or style to us.
Visit Soho's shops! SOHO'S has shops at:
LIVERPOOL - 80 Bold Street. Tel:0151 707 0880
LEEDS - Kirk Gate opposite the Market. Tel: 0113 242
SHREWSBURY - Lower Floor Darwin Centre. Tel: 0174 335
MANCHESTER - 2nd Floor Afleck's Palace. Tel: 0161 832
CHESTER - 7 Bridge Street Row east. Tel: 01244 403 079
3rdFace Clothing Ltd Soho's
18 Old Station Road
United Kingdom Tel: 08453703773