When Londoners Geoff St James and Kip Jorgenson teamed up to start a business, the vision was to build an independent retail destination for cult denim, sourced from overseas.
Their fashion credentials combine time at Jean Paul Gaultier, Katharine Hamnett and Jigsaw, but both have an unwavering passion for denim, which led to the opening of London indie Behave in Soho at the beginning of 2004, stocking the likes of Australian brands Ksubi and Sass & Bide.
Fast-forward five years and the duo now have four stores – in Soho, Shoreditch and Camden in London, and Brighton. A fifth shop is due to open in Notting Hill later this summer.
Behave’s 600 sq ft Camden store, which opened in April, is opposite the landmark Stables Market with its reams of vintage clothing, while long-standing young fashion indie LA1 is Behave’s nearest denim-led competitor. A smattering of fashion multiples, including H&M, are not far down the road.
Every Behave store in the portfolio has a tunnel-like aesthetic – the stores tend to be dark, long and thin, and the interior is always painted chalkboard black, with strip lighting used to elongate the store.
“Initially the use of black was a reaction against the stark all-white modernistic store environments we had both worked in previously,” says St James.
“The idea was to take this modernistic approach, which looks minimal, angular and stark, but do it against a striking black background as opposed to the popular white look.”
A denim wall is the store’s centrepiece but a womenswear room at the back, and the changing rooms, draw shoppers through the store.
Denim has always been this business’s speciality and initially Behave bought into men’s and women’s wear on a small scale to complement the denim offer. But an onslaught of emerging labels and appealing collections from established brands such as Acne, Oliver Spencer and Humör led the business to up the mix to a 50/50 denim/ready-to-wear split.
“The mix emphasises the idea that fashion should be accessible and offer a choice in aesthetic and price points,” says St James. “The clothes are niche and interesting but they are wearable.”
Behave has always catered for both genders but at the Camden store 70% of product is targeted at men.
The basement of the Camden store is being converted, and there are plans to open a hairdressing salon there. There are no more UK stores in the pipeline after the Notting Hill opening, but a transactional website will go live this month.
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Behave 25 Chalk Farm Road, London NW1