In a somewhat unusual slant towards menswear (For us at least) we recently caught up with Ian Paley – founder of British menswear boutique and label Garbstore. The store is a West London staple and the brand continues to be the stalwart of it’s peer group, but with a recent LA store opening, Garbstore Case Study, and a game changing Reebok collab series under their belt, we felt it as time to find out more.
How did you get started? Because it’s not like this is an easy game to crack, any initial setbacks? Starting out on your own is usually fraught with wrong turns.
Like most things Garbstore was a graduation from a few other things, i’ve been in the industry since 95, picked up allot of experience along the way to starting Garbstore. No set backs as i have learned along the way not to do something half heartedly, you have to commit. So many businesses that start after hours don’t really find their feet until someones takes that risk and commits full time, from that point it has to work, replacing want with has is crucial.
I didn’t actually realise that you started One True Saxon, then sold it?
Yes, happy times, allot of fun and exactly the right time to let go. Another milestone is really knowing when to cash in and walk away.
What is the overall premise of Garbstore?
As I said, Garbstore was a graduation for me, quite a few stations along in the journey when the train is starting to slow down enough for the passengers to take in the view more completely. It could never have happened at the start of my career as I just hadn’t learned enough,or have a strong enough handle on all of the aspects of our industry.
The time I spent in factories, mills, advertising agencies, being a creative consultant to many companies all pushed me in the direction to both create and curate. The overall premise is a very selfish one, to promote what i like, what i feel is worthy without hype, and to create simple items that are based on vintage production but not retro, that are simple but not boring. unfamiliar vintage.
I imagine there are a great deal of barriers to entry to making actually decent technical outerwear, how on earth do you get started in that?
You would think that would be the case, like so many things thee is no substitute for getting on a plane and making things happen face to face, i still like that manufacturing is still quite a traditional industry and deals and arrangements are best made in person. You simply cannot start something and expect results using email alone. There are always ways, opportunities that present themselves after any decent conversion with like minded people. In this case it was a simple phone call and an arranged lunch that got this ball rolling.
Going to the store for a second, what do you look for in a product and what does your customer want from Garbstore?
Our customers want the most difficult of things, a sense of history, vintage aspects, notable quality and something new. It’s fun trying to fill the store with this kind of thing, it actually makes it very easy for us to buy even though it’s very hard to find people that fit the bill. For us presenting something new is the most important. So many stores open by looking at other stores brand lists and buys. by the time it hits the floor for us it’s well in the past.
Can we talk about Reebok for a second? The collaboration is just inspired, how did they come about, did they approach you?
Yes, they approached me to talk about a possible link up. I got on a plane, went to HQ in Boston and chatted. After 30 minutes and looking at a few archive pull ups and older models it what crystal clear what I would do for them. The faith and willing from Reebok to follow such an odd idea is what continues to keep me involved, such good people.
So talk us thorough it, how did you look at some thing we’ve seen a thousand times and just totally flip it on its head? (Excuse the pun).
I think so many people look but don’t see, the internet allows one to look, but not see. All it took was to appreciate the technical aspect of the earlier type of shoe construction, to deconstruct in person, to remove the sole unit, see whats inside.
Do you have any more of these planned, what can we expect to see in the future?
Yes many more, we have just finished development on collection 4.
So what’s going on with LA? And why there? Why not New York or Paris?
LA for me is such a pioneering city, it has it’s own thing that’s unique to its climate. I like this as the style is born of function with in the city, not just a replication of other cities style. Also my partners there shared a desire to do something so we started together.
What’s next for you guys?
We are now working on our third store concept that hopefully will happen later this year.