A previously disused building’s industrial feel has been retained in its transformation into a streetwear shop
Steve Banks, the brains behind two-year-old streetwear brand Electronic Poet, initially decided to set up Paper Scissor Stone as a showcase shop for his Leeds-based label. But after falling in love with a giant 2,200sq ft abandoned space in his home city in West Yorkshire, he realised he needed to expand his ideas.
“It was such a gorgeous space but it seemed too big for just Electronic Poet,” explains Banks. “I asked my old friend Si Scott [designer of Electronic Poet’s T-shirt prints], and he said he’d love to use the sparse walls to display and sell his illustrations and artwork.”
Alongside Scott’s artwork and Banks’ street-come-club clothing, Banks brought in Jules Balchin as a third partner in the business to take care of sourcing other complementary brands to fill the shop. Menswear labels now include Steven Alan, Rittenhouse, Wood Wood and Sixpack, while Paul & Joe Sister, Edwin and Something Else are among the seven women’s brands.
What Banks particularly loves about the huge, single-storey space - a fifth of which is walled off at the back as an office area - is that it gives both the artwork and clothing room to breathe, something he feels is often lacking with the ‘pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap’ mentality of the high street.
The shop has retained the raw feel of a disused cavern. The walls are whitewashed breeze blocks, the floor is grey concrete and there is a 25ft wall of windows fronting the 4ft-deep sunken store. “It’s a bit like an almond-shaped goldfish bowl, but I like the fact that people can look in and see the whole store clearly. We’re on quite a busy street, so the more people who see in, the more will come in,” Banks says.
Curved wooden units made from sustainable ash from Nidd Valley in the nearby Yorkshire Dales are used to display product, magazines and artwork, while the central till is made from layers of wood, steel and concrete to reflect the store’s Paper Scissor Stone name.
Fixtures and fittings correspond to the industrial theme. Exposed, oversized lightbulbs illuminate the artwork, and metal tubing (which Banks describes as “mini climbing frames”) is used to present product. A painted white garden shed serves as the changing rooms.
A brightly coloured break-and-build set of recycled cardboard blocks makes up a temporary wall, which can be changed to keep the store looking fresh or taken down completely for DJ or promotional nights, which Banks regularly runs in a bid to keep his profile high in the city.
“People thought that I was crazy to open a shop in the current economic climate,” says Banks. “But I thought, if I’m scared of opening a shop, why am I designing clothing? This just puts more weight behind the brand and if you have a good product targeted in the right place, people will buy it,” says Banks.
12 Total number of brands stocked in the shop
2,200sq ft The store’s floor space
Four Number of months Paper Scissor Stone
has been open