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My fashion life - Sam Whitlock

The founder of etailer Stylecreep is as addicted to Omega watches as he is to seeking out new brands.

You worked in sales at the likes of Boxfresh and fashion agency Fourmarketing before launching premium menswear etailer Stylecreep. Why did you make the jump to retailing?

Both companies were amazing to work for and I learned a great deal. Between those two jobs I gained such a diverse experience, working with buyers from key stores across the country and at all levels of the industry. The way the buyers selected varied so much it really interested me and made me a frustrated buyer, I guess. Prior to working in sales I managed various indie stores such as Designworks and Dispensary Menswear [both in Soho, London] and had a little buying experience, so it all felt like a natural progression.

Did having experience in sales help you when it came to buying brands for Stylecreep?

For sure. I worked with key buyers from the best stores in the country, seeing how they selected and their reasoning. The experience was invaluable. Hopefully, I can take what I’ve learned and use it to create a unique brand and product offer, but try to make some money at some point, too!

Where did the name Stylecreep come from?

It’s a term I heard a couple of times and it just stuck with me. It means to start off with a plan but then deviate off the intended track. If literally translated it’s probably not the best, but I also see it as not being fixed on one specific route to a goal. My overall concept is solid, but I’ll certainly be sidetracked by innovative design and product.

Why did you decide to launch online only?

In December 2012, I saw an opportunity, I felt there was a gap for what I do. I felt some online stores lacked diversity and were afraid to take risks.

You stock the likes of Carhartt, Soulland and Christopher Raeburn. Where do you find new brands?

Everywhere. Trade shows, recommendations, blogs, social media, TV, other stores. I’m always looking for great product.

Which trade show do you think is the best?

I’ve always really enjoyed Seek in Berlin and Jacket Required in London. They are clearly organised by people who give a shit about the industry and understand it well.

What do you most look forward to each season?

Getting the new product live. I get excited to see which of our new introductions kicks off first and how our clients react to them.

Do you ever find yourself buying for yourself rather than the store?

Of course. I’m not afraid to admit it. But hey, it’s now only season three for us; autumn 14 is the first buy with a sell-through under my belt, I’m finding my feet and have made adjustments to the way I work.

I’ll always try and put personality into the selections, but the balance will differ. My wardrobe is also now too full.

What’s the best-performing day you’ve ever had online?

Our traffic is certainly growing but is not huge. However, we do have some hefty price tags. I think we have peaked at around 150 orders in a day.

What are you most proud of in your career?

It’s got to be having the balls to do Stylecreep. It launched with a £10,000 bank loan, and a lot of work and sleepless nights.

What one thing do you wish you could change about the industry?

To introduce strict Sale and markdown windows. This would dramatically help the industry in the UK.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?

You know those jobs you really don’t want to do and would normally keep putting off? Do them first.

Where do you shop for clothing?

I have an unhealthy desire for Nike Air Max, so that means [Newcastle independent and etailer] End. [Leicester independent and etailer] Wellgosh also gets some of my cash.

What other stores or websites do you admire?

We have some amazing stores in the UK. There’s too many to mention them all, but I’ve watched End grow and have great respect for the way it’s done it - its brand offer has always been unique. Stores like Oi Polloi [in Manchester] that have kept great focus on what they do, no one can touch them. The Goodhood Store [in Shoreditch, east London] has a great ethos and brand mix. I have nothing but respect for the retailers in the UK that I’ve worked with.

Whose style do you admire?

Anyone who has mastered their own look and is truly comfortable with their own sense of style.

What’s the most questionable outfit you’ve ever worn?

There was a store event on Newburgh Street in London serving Campari and orange juice - I was wearing a pink leather biker jacket that tonally matched the drink perfectly. That wasn’t a great look.

What’s the most expensive fashion item you’ve ever bought?

Probably my watches, I’m a bit addicted to Omega. And I think I have a few pairs of Rick Owens (pictured left) trousers that my son has destroyed.

What menswear trend do you wish would disappear?

Flip-flops should be banned when not around a pool - deep V-neck T-shirts, too.

If you weren’t working in fashion, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be immensely bored and complaining about my nine to five. I love this industry and won’t do anything else for a long while.

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