Outwear specialist Tog24 – Truth Over Glory 24 – was founded in West Yorkshire by Donald Ward in 1958. More than 60 years later, it remains a family-run business and is currently led by Donald’s grandson, Mark Ward, who took the reins as managing director in 2018.
The British brand specialises in products made to be worn in the great outdoors, be it a leisurely stroll to a country pub or a day out at the beach. Retail prices range from £15 for a T-shirt to £150 for a pair of boots. It sells through its own website and 30 standalone stores. Stockists include Debenhams, House of Fraser and Edinburgh Woollen Mill.
Ward spoke to Drapers about his fashion life.
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
I’m not a morning person, so I need a strong cup of coffee to get my brain going while reading the news.
What was your first job?
I started working at Tog24 during the school holidays, where I’d do anything from working in the factory outlet shop to leafletting cars, trimming nuclear survival kits (we used to make nuclear, biological, chemical inner suits for the army) or painting the fire escape. My first full-time job was repping the Tog24 range to independent outdoor stores.
How would you describe the brand in one sentence?
We do things right and make sure products are of quality and value.
What’s your coffee (or tea) order?
Strong and milky for both.
Where are your favourite places to shop?
I used to go to Manchester, but now that Leeds is on its way up, I like shopping there.
Last fashion purchase? Why did it catch your eye?
I almost exclusively wear Tog24, but I recently treated myself to a McNair merino shirt.
Emails or phone calls?
Emails – I can’t remember phone calls, so need to be able to search for what I’ve said.
Most important lesson you’ve learned during your career?
Focus and be adaptable to change.
What would be your ideal office/meeting space?
We’re currently renovating one of the floors in our old factory in Heckmondwike to use as a new office space. It has stunning floor-to-ceiling windows and impressive wooden beams. We also have meetings at the Black Bull pub (Milnsbridge) from time to time, which takes some beating!
What’s your favourite part of the creative process?
Samples arriving and finding out if they’re going to be a winner.
What has been your proudest moment at Tog24?
Hitting sales of £25m for the first time in 2015 was up there, but I think my proudest moment was launching our new look last year.
What’s the last book you read?
I’m currently reading The Penguin History of Europe series. I think most people could benefit from knowing more history.
I recently went to Whitby with my family and four whippets, which was a Yorkshire dream come true. My last holiday abroad was skiing in Austria… someone has to test the gear!
What other brands do you like?
Brand-wise, I’ve always liked Peak Performance for its Scandi style. In the UK, Barbour does a solid job, as does Finisterre.
What’s the biggest challenge facing fashion today?
Where to start… There are many, such as constantly increasing costs, structural changes, changing supplier base, sustainability. I suppose it’s all part of an ever-changing marketplace.
What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t spend time with negative people.
Who do you turn to when you need advice?
My father was managing director for more than 40 years before I took over, so it’s good to pick his brains – when he’s not on holiday!
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Walking my whippets and watching Huddersfield Town, or watching the kids attempt to play football.
What are you looking forward to most in the year ahead?
We’re really excited about autumn 19. We’ve invested in a lot of new people to help take the brand to the next level. The range looks great and is the most considered we’ve ever had. We’re also launching a new central computer system and entirely new website soon – next season is hopefully when it all comes together.