STUART TREVOR: OPENING THE VERY FIRST ALL SAINTS STORES, INVENTING THE FESTIVAL CHICK LOOK AT GLASTONBURY 2005
So here comes part 2 of my All Saints story and it's all about opening our very first stores. If you missed part 1, then you can find it here!
In the next few years after Starting All Saints, we had American distributors and we were doing about 5 million a year turnover. But then a few of the retailers and the distributors let us down and didn’t pay us. One season we ended up with about £100,000 worth of stock which we had to get rid of and to me, the only thing to do was to open an All Saints shop.
So, we opened the first shop in Hype DF in Kensington, which was a new upmarket designer store from the people that had run Hyper Hyper, which was a really successful 80s indoor market in London opposite Kensington Market. This was where all of the best vintage stores were located. The Clash had a shop selling rock n roll band clothes alongside Malcolm McClaren, Westwood, and some original punk type designers. Loads of rock bands and people like The Cure, U2 and the Smiths all used to go shopping here, as this was about the only place in England you could find original and exciting clothes.
Our shop was located just around the corner from the Universal Records publishing offices and we used to get all the bands coming in and buying from the first All Saints store. It was just a store inside a store, but it was a really good idea to do it this way, and I learned how to run a store without all the company issues that come with owning your own. We had everything we needed, like serious managers that we knew were responsible enough to open and close the store etc. After opening our first shop we learnt that All Saints as a retail concept worked, especially because we took in about £15,000 and the response from customers were incredible!
NEW LOCATION - JUST OF CARNABY STREET
So for the following season, I opened our store in a new location and this time it was not inside someone's else store - it was our own. We were now based just around the corner from Carnaby Street and as the rents on Carnaby Street were mental(as they still are), I went to see the landlords to show them what I was doing. Luckily, they too loved it. They ended up giving me a shop just off Carnaby Street, in Fouberts Place and we opened it after about two weeks of shop-fitting. We filled the shop up with all flea market found vintage church rails, old shipping trunks and coat hooks nailed onto the walls to make it look cool.
We had no advertising and relied only on passing trade. We stood outside the shop talking to mates, had cool looking window displays using vintage Union Jacks, electric guitars, amps, crosses, huge candlesticks and pictures of dead rock stars - it looked like we’d erected shrines to them and dressed battered up mannequins with punky looking clothing
We took £20,000 in during the first week! Next season, another couple of retail stores couldn’t pay their bills and I thought ‘well what am I going to do?’ so I went to the same landlord who had just bought a street in Seven Dials Covent Garden. There was a shop available there that they offered me for a quarter of the normal rent because they loved what we were doing. We ended up opening our second shop on Earlham Street and within a couple of weeks, that shop was doing £20,000 a week too. It was incredible.
THE FIRST STORES OUTSIDE OF LONDON
We had an independent store we were supplying to in Brighton and it was run by this mad bloke who used to drive me crazy and ring me up every day asking for a small in a leather jacket, the following day he wanted a large in the same leather jacket, then the following day a medium in the same leather jacket, the following day small in the same leather jacket
This was obviously really frustrating for us because we had to pick something up every single day and post it out to him, but it was obviously a really thriving store. When he told me that his business was going bankrupt, I went down to see him and I agreed to take over the store from him in Brighton.
Then I got a phone call from the ex-retail director from Reiss. He had a bust-up with David Reiss and left. Now he wanted to open an All Saints store in Birmingham. He came down to see me and we got on really well. It all ended up with him opening the store in Birmingham. He bought about £100,000 worth of stock and it did really well. He was a lot straighter than me, a bit more business-like. I couldn’t be bothered dealing with accountants and shit like that. Even so, I had been doing it for the past 6 years although I really didn’t have any interest in it. The ex-retail director from Reiss, now owning an All Saints store in Birmingham, came to me and asked me if I would like him to get involved in the business. I said well, as long as I can do the design, the buying, have creative control and work out where I wanted to open the stores as well as designing the interiors of the stores - I might be interested. This way I would have more time to concentrate on designing collections and all that whilst he would look after the day-to-day running of the stores. Training the staff as well as hiring and firing them, making sure the windows looked cool - I would tell him what I wanted in the windows in London and he would get every store manager to make sure that every store looked great. He would also organise the warehouse distribution of the stock replenished in the stores etc. He said he would do all of that as long as he could be the one who dealt with the accountants, the bank manager and other things like that - and I agreed. He couldn’t believe it and was so excited
Within three months he realised what a shit job that was and came back to me and said he couldn’t believe that I’d stitched him up with the most shit job of all whilst I’m having all the fun designing collections etc.
THE VERY FIRST 'DESTRESSED' COLLECTIONS
I worked really hard on developing collections and had a few opportunities that turned up through long-standing business friends that had promotional opportunities in Indonesia. So I went out there, met the factories that were producing Levis, developed jeans, trucker jackets, hoodies and tees with gothic style “SAINTS” appliqués and a whole collection of “Jesus Loves You” merchandise, with the slogans and the face of Jesus in the image of Che Guevara.
Back in London, I created a whole collection of studded belts and bags with the Factory that was making all the original punk rock belts and accessories for Vivienne Westwood and loads of other designers. We came up with a load of original ideas like “Jesus Loves You “ and “All Saints Rocks” written in conical studs on belts and bags. I researched Punk Rock and Post Punk imagery from recently published books by my old mate Chris Sullivan and I photocopied them, solarised them, and printed them onto raw edge Tee shirts. Then we shot them with shotguns, thousands of tiny pellet holes, stonewashed them and created distressed, beaten up tee shirts that nobody had ever seen before in their life.
I went out to India and developed a collection of leather jackets - biker jackets, military-style band jackets, flack jackets, varsity style bombers and rock shirts and got the factories to wash them and leave them crinkled for a beaten up vintage look. We even garment dyed them to get a really unique patina and finish that nobody else was doing at that time
All these collections sold out the week they were delivered - by this time we had opened All Saints stores in several cities in the UK including Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow, Brighton and several across London. We were having launch parties in a different store each week with hundreds of people turning up to each party. The stores had a cult-like following in each city, with the staff almost treated like celebrities in their local bars and clubs. We also had a mailing list of thousands of people and every time we dropped a new collection the staff would ring the customers up and there would be queues outside the stores when they arrived the next morning - this was years before the internet and no one ever saw anything like this, simulator nowadays to the queues you see outside SUPREME stores that are fuelled by social media - this was all word of mouth too - no advertising campaigns or celebrity endorsement etc.
We spent the next few years repeating orders in different colours and fabrics and updating the collection every week, with new deliveries each week of new styles. The stores were rocking - some of the stores were taking £20,000 every Saturday - Leeds, Glasgow and Nottingham, outselling London. Then we opened bigger stores in London and they were taking £30,000 every Saturday. It was crazy.
GLASTONBURY ROCKS - THE BIRTH OF THE 'FESTIVAL CHIC'
The weekend before Glastonbury 2005 - I rang up the belt maker and asked him if he could make GLASTONBURY ROCKS belts for me and he made me about a 100. We set off for Glastonbury Festival with a photographer, a load of beautiful models and the Italian Vogue production team. When we arrived on Thursday evening we all got hammered and it poured down with rain all night long! The next morning, the team didn't want to do the shoot as is was far to wet and muddy, but I made them all trudge thru the mud. We blagged our way backstage where we had the girls shot in All Saints dresses with these studded belts and wellies hanging out with Coldplay, The Coral, Kaiser Chiefs and Primal Scream, who flew into our camp on a helicopter that afternoon.
All the models drove me insane for a GLASTONBURY ROCKS studded belt, including Kiera Knightly, Jodie Kidd and Stella Tennant - one of our girls was an unknown Agyness Deyne and her and I spent all day hanging out with The Libertines backstage. Kate Moss spent the day walking around arm in arm with Pete Doherty wearing one of the belts and this was the year that “Festival Chic” was invented in the press - beautiful girls, beautiful dresses, biker jackets, studded belts and muddy wellies. Italian Vogue published it and the rest is history.
Apparently, that year was make or break for Glastonbury as they had suffered massive losses because they had recently had to pay for a wall of steel around the festival, after years of thefts and violence from travellers. That year was a mudbath, however the amount of press generated by Kate Moss in that “Festival Chic” outfit and the shoot we did, that was then replicated all over the world by every single style magazine, made Glastonbury the coolest of all the festivals in the world and from that year on it went from strength to success. Not saying it was all down to me of course. However..........
OTHER POSTS YOU MIGHT LIKE