The owner of east London menswear indie Anthem sings the praises of its compelling mix of brands to Graeme Moran.
Tell us about your Shoreditch menswear store, Anthem.
We set it up in September 2011. We wanted to stock the best product from across the globe, it’s that simple. Beyond that we wanted to mix up brands you don’t traditionally see next to one another: Dries Van Noten and Comme des Garçons sitting next to Oliver Spencer and Our Legacy with harder-to-find Japanese brands. It’s a snapshot of a guy’s wardrobe based on quality and craft no matter what the price point.
You’re an ex-City trader, so how and why did you make the jump into fashion?
I started in the City as a temp, and before I knew it I’d done my registered representative exam and was the equities dealer for a unit trust. I hated it, I just fell into it. After three years I got sacked because I was so bad, which was a good thing because I would have stayed because the money was too good. I always had a strong interest in design – while everyone in college was getting drunk, I was collecting mid-century ceramics and Scandinavian glass, as well as vintage Levi’s and spending lots in [menswear store, and later the brand] Duffer. So I got to know them and that’s when [founder] Eddie Prendergast gave me a job at Duffer. I then got offered an interview for the buying job at Liberty.
Is there any truth in the rumours you got the job at Liberty based on how well you dress?
No, of course not! What it did do was get me noticed and because of what I knew in terms of all aspects of design I got to interview. I had to do a presentation to the directors outlining what I would do. It was quite progressive in terms of brand mix and merchandising.
You stock a wide selection of brands – where do you find them?
We try to go beyond the trade fair merry-go-round that sees the same brands in two or three different locations. Of course we do those as well but it’s really important to travel; it makes you look at style from various aspects and keeps your own fresh. Japan is important still, as is the US, but also in markets across the globe you really find amazing inspiration that can kick-start an idea or theme in terms of buying brands or merchandising the store.
What trade shows do you visit?
Pitti, Capsule, Man, Jacket Required. If we are in a town and there’s a trade show, we’ll go. You never know what you’ll find.
If you weren’t working in fashion, what would you be doing?
I dread to think.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
This is a very insular industry, so be nice to everyone. You’ll bump into them eventually. Your relationships are everything. They open a lot of doors. Without them this industry is really hard to crack.