Gavin Smith Gives Us The Goods On NoKipple
Jun 12, 2013

The NoKipple store is coming to European shores in a few months, so we at Hall of Fade figured we’d get the early scoop on them. As you know, starting a store is never easy, as such, it is always interesting to look behind the scenes. Gavin Smith, whom some of you may know as Megatron1505, is one of the partners behind this upcoming retail store. He speaks to us about what’s to come and what several of us can expect from NoKipple.

SK = Saintkeat

GS = Gavin Smith

SK: Some of us already figured out No Kipple means ‘No Rubbish’. Could you tell us what the NoKipple ethos is all about?

GS: We have something that we call the “Three rules of NoKipple“, and they are…

Good people make good things.

Good things endure.

Relationships matter.

I think they kind of sum up what we believe very well and they are at the heart of what we want to achieve.
Our concept is to work with brands who are not currently represented in the outside of their domestic market, brands who offer something a little different to what is currently out there.


SK: Who exactly are the NoKipple crew?

GS: The NK crew as it stands today is me (obviously), my friend and colleague Jon who is a long term enthusiast of all things high quality, and a founder member of the Iron Heart customer forum, and also his friend Jeff who is a top flight I.T wizard with a background in some of the biggest web based projects in the UK. Early on in the concept we had my good friend Beatle on board, which was an immense help as her knowledge and creativity is very well known, currently though she has her own brand beginning, which is taking up her time, but we remain extremely good friends so never say never on future projects.

Jon really stands at the fulcrum of NK, as the whole thing was born out of conversations, which he had separately with Jeff and myself. I had always wanted to be involved in a project like this, I had the knowledge and the drive but lacked the finance, Jon and Jeff had the finance and were looking for someone else to work with on a retail project who had the knowledge and time to research and bring together a very strong brand line up, so it seems we are a perfect fit, ha ha.

 

SK: There are several raw denim stores in the market worldwide as it is. What sets NoKipple apart?

GS: Well, the first thing which I think sets us apart is that we are not really a raw denim store. Our full concept is simply to retail artisan made, under promoted, quality goods, so in the future that might mean fishing gear, coffee pots, shaving kits or maybe wristwatches. We will not limit ourselves.

I think the second thing, which sets us apart, is the fact that we have actively sought out brands that are the epitome of the three rules, which I mentioned earlier. We have met every brand that we are working with, in the flesh and at their premises in most cases; the people behind the products genuinely matter to us. It is also obviously very important that what they produce is not just good, it has to be great or it will not stand out and not only does it have to be great but it has to be timeless. Lastly, we want to work with our brands for a long time, so it is important to us that they appreciate what we want to do, and we appreciate what they do, we have succeeded with this 100% with the brands who we are working with.

 

SK: Could you give us a sneak preview to the brands that would be hitting the NoKipple store soon?

GS: I certainly can, as I am extremely proud of the line up we have. From Indonesia we have Elhaus and Sagara, and from Japan we have Trophy-Clothing, Jelado and Tush Leathers.

 

SK: You’ve picked up quite a few brands! Even a collaboration with one! It’s starting to feel that despite how new NoKipple is to the market, it is already a force to be reckoned with. Will there be a brick and mortar store in the future?

GS: Well, I think my favourite phrase is going to become ‘never say never’, ha ha. My friend, and sometime guru, Giles of Iron Heart UK has a repeat phrase of “it will happen when it happens”, I like the idea of having a catchphrase, ha ha.

 

SK: Onto some of the brands you’ve mentioned. I know you and Jon have specially travelled down to Indonesia, specifically to do some research on the brands you were interested in. That’s real dedication. Tell us about the trip and why you think those Southeast Asian brands would do well in Europe?

GS: When we first looked at our concept of working with under promoted brands it struck us that there is an extremely vibrant scene growing in South-east Asia, and Indonesia is at the heart of that. Indonesia is blessed with a couple of extremely valuable commodities, it has a rich history of unique fabric, weaving and dyeing techniques and it has a young generation who have the entrepreneur spirit to utilise their countries skills, resources and history to give some traditional products within this market quite a unique twist.

Gavin and Jon meet Raven and Eduardus from Elhaus

We met a really cool bunch of brands in Jakarta, all run by young guys with amazing enthusiasm for what they do and a fantastic eye for detail. Of those brands we have selected to launch with Elhaus, a Jakarta brand run by friends Raven and Eduardus who do some really innovative things with fabric and dye, for instance the collaboration jean which will be the worlds first heavyweight (20oz) hand woven left hand twill jean. We are really proud of this product and the level of detail which Elhaus have given to it, from the hand carved leather patch to hand settled copper rivets and a special dyeing technique which mimics the multi toned colour of natural indigo, it really is a very special jean, and I am not even being biased when I say that.

Gavin wearing the Elhaus Coverall

 Elhaus demonstrating the warping process

 

Footwear is a huge passion of the NK team, so we were very clear that we wanted to work with an upcoming footwear brand also. Whilst we were in Jakarta we had the immense pleasure of meeting Bagus Satrio and his lovely wife Belda, who are the owners of Sagara, a footwear brand from the creative centre of Indonesia, Bandung. Bagus completely blew us away when we met him, firstly his products were absolutely stunning. I have almost exclusively worn footwear made by one of the most well respected boot makers in the USA for the last 5 years, and what Sagara produces is just as good as what the American brand produces. What sealed the deal for me with Sagara was when we asked Bagus how much of his production process was automated, he simply looked at me blankly and I assumed he had not understood the question so I repeated “how much is done by machine”, he laughed and replied “None of it, all by hand, we cannot afford a machine, ha ha”. I thought this was absolutely brilliant. We actually have a boot coming from Sagara that is Bagus design made to our spec, so this will be our second collaboration.

Bagus and Belda from Sagara

Sagara Combatant 

Sagara Imperial

Sagara Valiant

SK: Shortly after, both you and Jon along with other well-esteemed people in the industry like Giles & Paula, Kiya & Demitra, and Danny, took a trip to the land of the rising sun. As I understand it, you were doing more brand research! Some of us have never heard of Japanese labels ‘Trophy Clothing’ and ‘Jelado’. Could you tell us more about those brands in particular?

GS: Well, as the saying goes “if you wish to hunt elephants you must go where the elephants are”, and in this industry the biggest elephants are in Japan. I don’t think that it is a secret that the biggest and best names in this particular niche of quality apparel are mostly all Japanese labels, they simply produce this stuff better than anyone else at the moment, but even in Japan we wanted to actively seek out brands who offered something a little different from what people may find elsewhere.

Gavin and Jon Meets Trophy Clothing Crew

Masaki Egawa – Mr Trophy Clothing

Trophy Store

 

Trophy-Clothing were the first brand that we really wanted to get on board, I spent a lot of time researching lesser known brands and came across Trophy mentioned on an internet forum, so I researched their website and began to look through their shop, and WOW! What you get with Trophy is a level of design and detail that is simply unmatched in my opinion, their clothes are like watching a really good movie in so much as every time you pick the garment up you notice more cool things about it that you didn’t see the last time you put it on. Plus, I am a huge sucker for slubby, hairy, loose weave denim, and Trophy signature “Dirt” denim is as slubby, hairy, rough and as full of character as it gets, simply beautiful. I could not understand for the life of me why Trophy were not huge, why they were not regarded as one of the biggest brands in Japanese denim, their collections all but sold out every year in Japan. Then I spoke to the owner, the youthful, cheerful and lively Masaki Egawa and came to realise that he had been patiently building his brand for over 5 years, only now reaching the point where he feels that it is time to expand outside of the domestic market, our meeting came at a good time for both of our companies I believe.

Gavin in the Trophy HBT Shirt

Trophy Shawl Coat

Trophy Wool Shirt

Trophy Chambray Detail

Jelado were brought to our attention by a friend on one of the forums as he had long coveted their denim. Again, we took a look at their website and were amazed to find that these guys make everything, and I mean everything. If we could open a UK subsidiary of Jelado we could cover all the product bases and more with just this one brand, and what they make is super well made and detailed. The brand owner Yohei Goto is a competitive kick boxer, and also probably the biggest enthusiast of vintage clothing that we have ever met, he spends a lot of money every year buying up rare vintage clothing piece for him to wear, display and to inspire what his brand produces, his scope is unparalleled from the people we have met so far. Interestingly, when we asked him how his two passions (kickboxing and vintage clothing) came together he told us that when he was young he was very thin, and the vintage clothes he loved did not fit him well as they were all too loose, so he started kickboxing to gain weight and muscle, and now the clothes fit him perfectly, another story that I loved, ha ha.

Gavin browsing the Jelado rack as Yohei Goto – Mr Jelado talks him through

Jelado Hawaii Shirts

Jelado Duck and Hickory

Tush Leathers is a one-man hand-manufacturing machine named Tush Kawakami. Tush hand makes all his leather goods in Yokohama, and is a close friend of Trophy owner Masaki Egawa who recommended Tush to us. Very simply Tush makes beautiful, high quality items by hand, out of the best leathers available.

Tush Kawakami

Tush Leather Card Case

Yeh, that was a great trip and a really nice opportunity for us to spend a little time speaking with some people in the industry who we really respect, plus we share a love of nice beer and food too.

 

SK: That sounds like they would be hot ticket items! Would NoKipple be offering any denim repair or hemming services?

GS: The cost of buying a Union Special, Singer or Kansai Special is not insignificant, especially when setting up a new venture. Currently we do not plan to offer hemming or repair services, this is not to say that we never will, as we will always monitor the demand.

Generally the UK, Europe and the USA have quite a few places where repair and hemming services are offered at very reasonable prices, as I have probably used most of these places myself I am more than happy to provide a recommendation to our customers.

 

SK: Great! So let’s talk about the NoKipple launch. When should we expect NoKipple to be gracing the web and removing the shrink-wrap on some outstanding high-end apparel? Could we expect a launch event or maybe even an introductory price on some items?

GS: Launching a multi brand retail operation comes with multiple issues to overcome, not least of which is availability of stock. Some of our brands use a staggered launch on their collections so we will have a constantly changing stock throughout the year as items sell out, and are replaced by new items. It is extremely important for us to do this as soon as we are able, but not before we are ready, therefore all I will commit to thus far is it will be late Q3 at the earliest, and sometime in Q4 at the latest. One thing you can be sure of is that when we launch we will be ready. This is a long-term project for us and not something we intend to rush to market; it has to be right for us, and most importantly for the customer.

A launch event and introductory prices you say? Can I patent the phrase ‘never say never’?

 

Gavin Smith’s patented phrase sounds very much like a Bond movie. With that in mind, expect plenty of dapper with the NoKipple group.

If you haven’t already, check out the NoKipple Facebook Page for further updates!

- Saintkeat

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