Friday, 13 November 2009

Style Salvage Speaks to... Albam

Founded in Nottingham in 2006 by James Shaw and Alastair Rae initially as an online mail order company with just seven designs in the catalogue, albam have gone from strength to strength and deservedly so. Last month saw the opening of their second store and we were invited to have a nosy around the impressive space. In addition to their wonderful Beak Street store the bloggers' favourite brand have now spread their offering out east to the historic Spitalfields Market. As it grows, albam continues to manufacture their products in Great Britain and where possible and, when it is not, they look as close to home as possible for alternatives. They now have good friends in Portugal, USA and Italy adding to the craftsmanship which is a fundamental facet of the label. We love how the duo aim to bring as much product back to Britain and how they have spent the last couple of years building a business which is enabling their British factories to grow and develop along with them. We spoke with James and Alastair to find out more about the the brand and their plans for the future...

Inside the new store at 111a Commercial Street

SS: How did it all start for you? What were your inspirations, your dreams and the driving catalyst behind albam?
Albam: We started in 2006, had an idea and left our jobs to see where we would get. There was a loose plan on what we wanted to do, having spent years talking, thinking and wondering if we could do it. It got to the point where we had to stop talking about it and just get out there and see where we could get with it all. Wanting to work for ourselves and work with people that are like us was a driving force.

SS: You are entering the third year of albam. For those readers who might have recently found you, you started out in a small office in Nottingham with seven styles in your first catalogue. How have the last few years been, is everything going to plan?
Albam: We have had a pretty steep learning curve and are always learning! When the first store opened, we were working all the time in there, if we weren’t there then we were at factories getting things made and then bringing them back to the store. There has been massive support from both the press and our customers and this has been amazing for us as we just started out with an idea and got on with it. Things are moving forward, the plan always changes but we just keep our heads down and get on with forging ahead.

albam. Made in England - We love these simple tote bags.

SS: What were the first and last item you remember designing for albam?
Albam: The T shirt was the first item we did so that will always stay in the memory. There was a lot of learning involved as we got into the manufacturing process pretty deep and got to meet all the people that we know now and still work with. Being so hands on, we remember pretty much all of them, the latest one that springs to mind is a new Field jacket for March 2010.

SS: Craft and local manufacture are obviously very important to you. Collaboration with local craftsmen and heritage is an integral facet of your brand identity. What have been your favourite collaborations to date? Who would you love to work with in the future?
Albam: Quoddy has been a great partner to work with, as has Grenson in Northampton. Such amazing factories and so much skill goes into these shoes. In the future we are talking to people but all are early days at the moment.

A rail in the new store.

SS: You work with some extremely small and remote factories here in the UK and beyond. Is it difficult to find them and how has your relationships grown over the years
Albam:In the UK they tend not to like signs outside the factories so even with the address finding them is pretty difficult. Word of mouth has introduced us to the factories that we work with. The business that is remaining is tight knit so everyone is interlinked. With regards to relationships we are there most weeks, although the new store has taken some time in looking after it. Our factories are part of the Albam team so everyone is really important to what we do.

SS: How do you see the Albam brand developing over the next couple of years?
Albam: We want to create a brand that stays true to our founding idea, obviously this will develop and grow in terms of range and the people that find out about us. Opening a couple more stores would be great, it would give a real platform for the brand but keep it tight and a discovery/best kept secret for our customers.

albam's perennial favourite, the fair isle hat.

SS: What are you favourite pieces currently available from Albam?
Albam: The blazer we have just released in store is great, and our new Regular jeans are currently being worn a fair amount! We have so much work coming through that it changes all the time!

SS: Finally, would you be able to share a few address book recommendation to our readers (hairdressers, tailors, cafes..anything you like really) which we will duly add to our Map.
Albam: When we are at Beak St, Fernandez & Wells or Monmouth are on the trail for a coffee. At Spitalfields it tends to be Nude or A Gold (for great great sandwiches). Alexander Boyd just off Brushfield Street is a great place for their new tailoring and shirting. Rochelle Canteen for a spot of lunch but closer to the store then St John or The Luxe for a breakfast and then The Albion on Redchurch St. They are mainly food places!

albam. Modern Crafted Clothing. These will help get you through chillier times...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great interview. I work 5 minutes away from their Beak St shop, and it's a constant temptation. They have a charcoal grey blazer in there right now that is absolutely beautiful, and the winter scarves and hats are just fantastic. Keep up the good work guys.

mat said...

yeah great interview, looks like stuff right up my street. il have to check that out when im down

Mountain said...

Being from Nottingham myself, it's wonderful to see such fantastic things coming from here. I really love that fair isle hat... I would wear that in a heart beat. I'm liking the look of those shirts too.

Jord. said...

Really good interview, never heard of them before, i'll be sure to do some more research and check them out!

I'm new to this fashion blogging, think it's a great outlet to discuss ideas/trends. Just starting a mens based blog, if you could check it out and give me any advice, it'd be much appreciated (:

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