The allure of Goodhood goes deeper than most shops. There is a note, accompanying each web-store order from the Shoreditch retailer, which thanks you for supporting a culture instead of a faceless corporation. After spending a little time speaking to Kyle Stewart – Co Founder of The Goodhood Store – you begin to realise that the accompanying note is accurate. He believes it encapsulates the unique retail environment which they have fostered since the shop first opened its doors in 2007. “Our company structure is flat,” he says. “So I’m not sat in a glass office giving out orders, I talk to my employees every day. We don’t have any investors, the money’s not disappearing into someone’s pockets. So, in a sense, it’s true that you’re buying into a culture”
We are sat in Commune by Goodhood, the café located on the ground floor of Goodhood’s new bricks and mortar store – a space which dwarfs their old space in size, but retains the essence of what made it great. The instantly recognisable lightbox remains, as does the overall attention to detail, but there are also new features; such as the dimly lit shed space which housed the recent Carhartt x Neighborhood collaboration. The café itself is indicative of how far Goodhood has progressed, as all around us staff are cleaning up from the launch party the previous night, which saw a fully packed shop and a further 200 people queued outside.
As with all things Goodhood, it’s not only the quality of the product – which is certainly carried over into their culinary venture – but it is the reference points which garners such fervent interest. I ask Stewart about the inspiration for the café’s aesthetic and the obvious Paris ’68 undertones. “Basically, the café is under the pavement. We had a quote on a lightbox a while back which was “beneath the pavement lies the beach.” It was a famous bit of graffiti during the Paris ‘68 protests.” The quote is now embossed on the floor of the café in a Futura-esque scrawl, in front of a counter where flat whites are prepared. “Obviously, it’s a very philosophical statement and one we really liked. We knew we wanted the tagline to be beneath the pavement, because it’s just like a little oasis down here. The graphics of that era were so rich so we could have a lot of fun with it. This is just the start, I’d like to do little books with it or something.”
Stewart is softly spoken, measuring each sentence in between sips of coffee. Having played host the night before, this morning seems to have a somewhat slower pace. He reflects upon his Edinburgh upbringing and his earliest influences. “It was a real creative hub, but skateboarding wasn’t popular, like it is now. There was always fights, always getting chased for wearing a rucksack or having baggy jeans, or something like that. So you became quite conscious of sticking out. Even at that time, you couldn’t get into club with trainers on, you were almost ostracised by society in a sense.”
A young Stewart began to make regular pilgrimages to Glasgow’s Dr Jives – a seminal store which received one of the first ever Supreme deliveries in the UK (none of which ever saw the shop floor, because the staff divided it between themselves). It was a store which he admits helped mould his outlook. “That was the shop I went to constantly. It was a massively influential shop. I mean, if you watch all the old Stussy videos on Youtube, at the end of them all it always comes up ‘Thanks to Dr Jives.’ In the mid ninties it sold stuff like Fuct, Pervert and Stussy. Then, after that, around 2000/2001 it started stocking APC, Evisu and what would now be Tier Zero Nikes. It really started to pave the way for skate influenced style that was progressive. Fundamentally, with Goodhood, Dr Jives was a massive inspiration. That was my dream, to have a shop like Dr Jives.”
Today, his store is one rooted in skate culture, but draws together a massive array of influences. The influence of Japan is one which has been equally important in forming the Goodhood aesthetic as the influence of Dr Jives. “Myself and Jo (Kyle’s partner and Co Founder) have been lucky enough to travel there. In terms of the product, obviously, we all love it. They make super stuff. And in terms of the way they do retail, like the old shop – how it was on a back street – you get beautiful shops in random places in Japan. Just the idea that a shop didn’t need to be on a high street was inspiring.” The influence extends beyond just location, with the often-instagrammed Goodhood pavement embedding outside the new store which was an idea borrowed from a bakery in Tokyo.
The store’s team carefully considers each little detail or cultural reference and few who have succeeded in translating a store ethos onto an internet platform as well as Goodhood. The information provided in their magazine-like website format is inclusive, but at the same time there will always be those for whom the shop strikes a chord on a level deeper than the material. The recent Art of Skateboarding exhibition which the store held in support of the Long Live South Bank campaign was one such example, combining skateboarding, art and, perhaps most importantly, a sense of community. “We were just chatting one day and we were like, ‘we should do an exhibition’ so the idea was to give 10 or 12 artists a blank, white, dipped skateboard and just get them to draw on it. So it was very sort of DIY, fanzine-style and hassle free.”
“We thought it would be quite good to do something for the Southbank campaign and give all the profits to them. Initially, when I had chats with people that run the campaign, they were very careful (about brands exploiting their cause), so we had to go through a bit of a process. But I knew that we’d do something very credible with these artists. But they do get a lot of people, for instance Selfridges doing a skate thing with HTC, and it’s all a bit mingin.”
“We dipped into our community a bit and then chose some people that are linked to skate culture; people like Ged Wells who did Insane from back in the day, when I was 13 or 14. It was a cool little brand. It’s nice to work with people who I remember and people my age remember and know what he did was totally influential and now no one knows it because the worlds changed. Things were more interesting back then, because people went on a journey to find stuff, it wasn’t just all there (on the internet). You looked on the label of something or adverts in the back of a magazine of whatever.”
With all the cultural facets of the store, it’s easy to forget that it is a business – and a successful one at that. Goodhood have an apparent knack for elevating seemingly banal products through a careful mix of high and low end brands. It is certainly not something which happens by accident, according to the store Co Founder, “we could be selling the same sort of Vans that are sold in Size? or something, but if you house them a certain way, they look like Vans you really want to have as opposed to Vans you might turn a blind eye to.”
With an expanded Womenswear and Homeware section, plus the introduction of new menswear brands such as Japan’s Unused and Gosha Rubchinskiy, the culture of Goodhood seems to be getting richer with each passing week. Yet, there remains an unflinching desire amongst the team to ensure meet the high standards they have set. “We’re total detail people,” chimes Kyle. “And that’s not just how we look at clothes, but everything we do.”
Words by Calum Gordon, who is the Editor in Chief of the Reference Council
Photos by Dom Fleming