By Kyle Stewart, Goodhood
Words by Nikolaj Hansson / Illustration by Sine Jensen
With a common background in design, Jo Sindle and Kyle Stewart opened their Shoreditch-based store, Goodhood. in 2007. Since then, the store has been in constant motion with new projects such as a Life Store, a new publication, Goddhood News, as well as a creative agency. We sat down with co-founder, Kyle Stewart to discuss his background in skateboarding, British youth culture and The Goodhood Store meets Soulland capsule collection.
Growing up in Edinburgh and being part of the skate scene there, do you think that’s where your gravitation towards design and fashion has its origins?
Absolutely. I think at the time I was skating the heaviest, maybe the late 80s and in particular the mid 90s, skating attracted a particular creative mind-set. A lot of the people who skated at Bristo Square* have gone on to become world-class creatives in music and art. It was definitely an inspiring environment.
Both in relation to the skinhead and the raver culture, music has had quite an impact on the youth culture of Great Britain throughout the years. Which period have you found to be the most influential for British youth culture?
I think it’s very hard to pin down one particular time period. I believe there is something intrinsically British about challenging the status quo, which I think all these subcultures have done and that’s also why a lot of them have developed in the UK. There’s a reason punk happened in Britain.
Establishing the store in 2007, during the beginning of what was to be the biggest financial crisis since the 1930s, did you meet any barriers in the first few years?
I think the only barriers we met were from the existing clothing industry. People weren’t really open to doing business with a new start up. There are a lot of bullshit attitudes going about.
Both you and Jo (co-founder of Goodhood) come from a background in design. What significant differences did you experience during the transition from design to retail?
We learnt first hand what sold to real people. It was a massive learning experience. I think previously, we were just hired to do something new or exciting. It wasn’t important to us if it worked commercially at certain levels. Now I think we are so in tune with our customer. It has made us much better designers.
Being situated in Shoreditch, did you have your audience in mind, when choosing the location for the store?
We want our customer to be that of an East London dweller. Although the audience has changed especially at night, I see East London Shoreditch up to Clapton and beyond being the habitat for our customers. Young, culturally and literate; lots of pretty girls and hip dudes.
The Goodhood Store seems to be in constant motion with new projects and directions. Can you talk about your most recent projects and expansions?
We recently did some nice items with YMC and Universal Works. It was nice to work with them, a very simple process. The Life Store has been a great thing to work on and has been received well. Always pushing it on.
Compared to 15 years ago, it seems as if there’s a lot more to retail today than just having a store. What is your perspective on the multidimensional state of retail today?
Well, there have been massive changes in retail and e-commerce in the last 5 years. Everyone has a web shop these days; I think you need to have one. There’s a lot of competition, especially somewhere like London. It forces you to be better, to progress things and not rest on your laurels.
What do you find to be the biggest contrast between Copenhagen and London in relation to the way men dress?
I think London is probably a bit grimier, a bit more dirty, especially in the East End. Ultimately, I think you get the same looks here and there, we are all global, but maybe there’s just a bit more variation in London. I love the way Copenhagen men dress though.
You’ve already done a fair share of collaborations through the past years. How is your approach as a designer working in retail, when collaborating with a designer?
Ultimately, I think we want to produce something that’s going to work with our customers. I think, as we are designers, we are thinking about trying to add something, not just do a version of something already existing. We are trying to do something that has an element of originality, while also being in the language that a customer is going to understand.
For this winter, you’ve collaborated with Soulland on a capsule collection. What were the main inspirations for the project?
I love the guys at Soulland. They are so smart. We bond because at the core, they are just some cool dudes. I think it comes from our soul being in skateboarding. I really wanted us to visit that for the Soulland-project. When they started doing the embroideries on the sleeves, I realised it was crying out for a Powell-style graphic. I used to have the sweat pants with the skeletons down them. They are still the illest pants ever. That was the starting point.
*Bristo Square is the most popular skate spot in Edinburgh, situated on the campus of Edinburgh University.