The director of PR agency Sane Communications tells Laura Weir why his online menswear store The Great Divide is just like a local pub.
You’re a journalist and fashion PR by trade, so why have you set up menswear etailer The Great Divide?
Me and my business partner Jim Philips thought there was a gap for a simple and effective clean [retail] space where a man can feel good about buying staples with a few curveballs that are a little more, shall we say, expressive. It’s a non-patronising, non-intimidating environment that’s easy to use.
How does running the Sane Communications PR business affect the new venture?
It’s a luxury we knew we could afford, based on the fact that the product we represent at Sane is also the product that, as a buyer for The Great Divide, I would be prepared to sell.
Heritage and workwear are very much on trend and the product stocked at The Great Divide fits in with those perfectly. What will you do when those trends move on?
Heritage and workwear are neither trends nor cyclical. Too many brands claim heritage when they have very little. True workwear will always be heralded, as will heritage brands. I prefer the word tradition. The Great Divide appreciates brands for what goes into them - that’s our philosophy. We also appreciate tech fabrics and sportswear brands such as Arc’teryx Veilance and Ellesse.
Who is your target customer?
Anyone who loves good garb. All my mates like garb, it’s half the reason we love each other. Target man? George Harrison. I know he’s dead but he is a legend.
What are your ambitions for The Great Divide?
To learn and grow with Jim - in that order. We are in it for the long haul and being proactive and responsive to factors that can change things is very important.
Why do you think the menswear market needs a site like this?
Two words - ease and classic. If you are comfortable somewhere you return; think of your local pub.
Are you considering opening any bricks-and-mortar stores by way of expansion?
One day, yes. That day is probably quite far away. We’ll see what the government situation is and whether extortion is still top of the Tories’ list.
What brands are on The Great Divide buying wish list for spring 12?
Penfield, Panoplie, Vanishing Elephant, Oliver Spencer and Vans, to name but a few.
How important do you think editorial content is to your website and to clothing websites in general?
It’s great if it’s balanced with the right ratio of product. Some sites tip the balance with editorial, which results in lost sales because people go to read and not buy, and in this market you need sales to facilitate longevity. I do love to read, but I prefer a designated reading environment. Saying that, stores we love such as Oi Polloi have it bang on.
How do you plan to make The Great Divide different from your market competitors?
Look both ways and focus on the road ahead. Know your competition, work your bollocks off.
Who is your favourite fashion editor?
[Dazed & Confused co-founder] Jefferson Hack. If I get two then I think Laura Weir is a legend.
What football team do you support and why?
Newcastle United - it’s an affliction and a passion.
How do you relax?
Red wine, with my wife and my cat, in my garden.
Steve Monaghan is co-founder of premium menswear etailer The Great Divide and director of Sane Communications PR