(Above : 51-53 Store, Stoke-on-Trent)
The Past & the Present.
There are many reasons as to why but Street culture has become an avenue for making easy money for some. Streetwear in particular, reselling is at its absolute breaking point. After reading Breaks Mag first and most recent magazine release I have to agree with comments made from London’s Footpatrol store that many brands associated with Streetwear make releases with such low minimums that it plays directly into the hands of resellers, maintaining the illusion that modern day fashion has to be unaffordable, unachievable and elite. Creating segregation that just doesn’t need to exist. This simply won’t do. It’s not why we got into this game.
It’s worth mentioning why I personally did get into the fashion side of Street culture. My working career is a mixture of design and retail. From year to year from the age of 15 I have moved within the world of retail and ultimately have provided for customers who want a specific product. Back in the day local independent stores to Stoke-on-Trent such as Scenario, Roots, Sneaky Culture, Dazed (to which I spent half of my wages and student loan) had me coming into the city centre for more every week! Infinities at that time was a humble setup with a tiny staircase at the back leading to a small box room showcasing Paul Smith accessories employing a one up, one down system. The guys who worked there would play acid jazz mixes or some other beats that were equally on point. They would have a laugh, provide a laid back atmosphere and their brand profiles were always daring and had very little ego. In my opinion Hanley around 2001-2004 was fairly unrivalled and it held my attention well.
Two years ✔
Two years have gone sailing by and so much has changed. Internationally to nationally, regionally to locally the world has adapted. What’s fashionable, as ever, has evolved and the tides of change in our immediate area have had a profound impact on our local economy.
If somebody would have said that in just 2 years, our High street and home on Piccadilly, Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent would have such vibrancy in comparison to when we first established we would have never believed it could happen as quickly as it has. Everywhere we look there is development. New businesses are opening and hope as we hope for a future in offering something different. A break from the monotony of the standard high street shopping culture we have all come to resent.
Our manifesto has always been to be the catalyst of urban culture in our great city. To respond to the desperate need for new, alternative and creative life and to encourage and assist (where possible) new business and growth to deliver a new plethora of opportunity for people who demand to see change.
(Above : NYC Street Scenes, 2016)
On a business level we have aimed to provide our customers with the best possible experience whether that be on a store level with a difference in brands to other stores locally, through to the Upstairs Gallery and its various exhibitions. The Entrepreneurs team want to inspire and show that this city is worth more than just the same tired stereotypical associations, such as Oatcakes and Bottle Kilns. We too crave alternate art, design, and culture. We too want to hand pull our own illustrations, make our own brands, converse over great pizza, drink the finest coffees, fine dine, visit the theatre often, obtain the latest looks, shred the latest decks, use the greatest art supplies. Piccadilly and the entire Cultural Quarter in Hanley is here and in full effect. Get to know its importance.
(Above : Times Square, Manhattan, NYC)
The beauty of Entrepreneurs as a business is that we’ve managed to combine every aspect of the Street culture we know and love into our day-to-day lives. We’re in a fortunate position, however like all things in life it has its challenges. Being able to adapt and adjust is a challenge in itself. Maintaining integrity to yourself, your brands but more importantly your customer is vital.
(Above : Vans painted advert, SoHo, NYC)
In August of this year, I visited New York for a few weeks. It was both a business and pleasure trip. Being stateside I used the opportunity to research as much as possible. I got to grips with some of the lead stores where our brands were born or are currently represented on their home soil. It probably comes to no surprise to those that know me well, that I got talking with as many different people whilst out there and developed my own opinions on several key patterns.
The one thing that stood out the most to me was how people align themselves with a company’s brand values - How they stand by and pledge allegiance to two or three key stores for what they offer them the customer. The brands and the prices they offer goods at are obvious reasons for custom you may think, however locality and the importance of origin in NYC is something incredibly valuable.
(Above : Hudson Rail Yard, NYC)
(Above : Nike x Kith Store, NYC)
(Above : The Hundreds Store, NYC)
(Above : Flight Club, NYC)
Whilst speaking to the managers in WEST NYC they opened up an observation that people who shop with them and understand what they’re about may not shop in SoHo as stores there may not necessarily be on their wavelength or reach them in a particular way and vice versa. Whilst in ONLY NY the guys behind the brand discussed with me how specifically taking the brand back into store in New York will not only generate new levels of interest but re-enforce their love for NYC and that their home origins is all that matters to them. By introducing the Stanton Street Sports sub-brand and making that available internationally ONLY NY will not only create more avenues of income but remind customers of both the store and the brand, praising it’s geographical positioning (ONLY NY and sub-brand Stanton St Sports can be located on Stanton Street, Manhattan, NYC).
(Above : WEST NYC Store, NYC)
It’s the stores locality and origin that emerges as important above all. Pride of place and a place to be proud of. Another NYC brand The Good Company use the stores address to their advantage, directly informing customers that whether online or on foot you can find them at 97 Allen! A clever use of merging their location into their branding and one that reminds their customers they exist to serve that immediate community and they’re confident of their origins in fashion.
(Above : ONLY NY Store, NYC)
Further examples of successful stores in particular are personal favourites, Street X in Australia, Patta in Amsterdam, and Bodega in Boston, all who represent Street culture through the latest Streetwear fashion. These stores not only fly the flags for their locality and origins, they’ve created a common bond through these outlets allowing their customers to express themselves and dress in . They serve a purpose to those who live within Street culture regardless of whether that’s skate, BMX or graffiti etc.
(Above : The Good Company, NYC)
Whether or not stores have established in affluent or socially collapsed locations really doesn’t matter. Providing possibilities for your city and being able to champion your origins is what is important, as a sense of belonging is integral to any culture. The brand values of any store will resonate with people on a much higher level. People align themselves with the aspirations and qualities of stores and the products they offer no matter what the challenges locally. Creating a sense of pride for a community of like minds.
As Anna Sinofzik wrote for the Work in progress: The Carhartt WIP archives
“…It is common sense that clothes instil within us as sense of belonging, or sometimes, more importantly, a sense of not belonging; that they are tribal, testimonies of taste and identity, indicative of what world we want to be part of. But they can also transcend borders, contexts, and identities. As most meaningful creative undertakings, Work In Progress will always be under construction…”
(Above : Carhartt, NYC)
We’re still Entrepreneurs, we’ve simply grown into a network of singular projects that work alongside one another to serve our community and our city further.
We’re more about Stoke-on-Trent than ever. We’re still the Hustlers of Culture.
Whether in the CQ on foot or at home online, you can find us at 51-53.
We are 51-53 Store. Welcome.
(Above : 51-53 Store, Stoke-on-Trent)