We asked the good minds at Ardour Brand for an interview and they kindly obliged. Since starting up in 2013, Ardour have earnt a great reputation for producing high quality products ranging from iPhone holders and wallets to jackets and shirts.
GTE; So to start, tell us a bit about Ardour Brand.
Saul; Ardour Brand is basically the passions of two best friends coming
into practice in the form of a clothing label.
Shaun; It’s an avenue for us to bring out clothing we like putting our
creative sides to good use.
GTE; How did you both start Ardour Brand?
Saul; Having both created and wrote the blog Sinister Delicious for a
number of years, it was through this that we finally decided that we
would try our hand at the thing we loved most and over the course of a
few months and the result of years of conversations and pipe line dreams
we finally put it into practice and Ardour Brand was born.
Shaun; Shortly before we started Ardour up Saul was about to do his own
project and I had been experimenting within clothing manufacturing so it
just felt like the perfect time to do something together before we went
on separate journeys and probably different paths, we have spoken for
years about working together and we are on very similar wave lengths so
it was an easy decision to start this up together.
GTE: What made you start up your own brand?
Saul; We started Ardour purely to follow our dreams, as cliché’ as that
sounds and had also become a little disenchanted with some of the output
from labels that we were into at the time.
We wanted to create something that had the elements of what mattered and
appealed to us personally.
Shaun; I think we are both at a point in our lives now where we feel we
have something to give, and being able to channel this through a
clothing label is living the dream really, I think I can speak for both
of us when I say that we feel at home working for Ardour.
The good thing is that we have good jobs already so we don’t have to
push what we do to make a living, it’s us being able to say we want to
make this, sending each other sketches and ideas before putting
something into place which is great because we aren’t rushing anything
trying to make money to live on, it’s purely creative at this moment in
GTE; There’s obvious hints towards the old Ivy League style with your designs, how much of an influence has it been on Ardour Brand and for your own style?
Saul; I think that classic Ivy look holds its rightful place in the
tapestries of men’s style. It’s a timeless look that is as relevant now
as it was back in its original conception and I personally feel as
though it has never gone away and is still very evident in modern
wardrobes. There’s a definite correlation between Ivy, mod and casual
and all 3 influence the way I dress and wear my clothes and always will
do – that will never change in me and I think Ardour has been a platform
to express some of that love. There’s something about old letterman
cardigans and sweaters that transfix me, old American sportswear,
anoraks, a classic slim silhouette. It just feels right to me – a smart
look that doesn’t cross that line, something that’s clean cut but always
has that cheeky allure somewhere just below the surface.
Shaun; Again I think the connectIon between Ivy, mod and casual is
evident and I’ve always taken elements of each within my own style, it’s
something we will both always link and we have taken this into Ardour
under the I V Bear range, it’s about trying to create clothing we want
to wear connecting the dots between our own styles and classic Ivy
We will continuously build this part of our label and we hope that
there’s something for everyone within this line and people will come in
and out and take the pieces that they like.
GTE; What or who elose do you take inspiration from?
Saul; I think we take inspiration from the things we love and have
shaped us as we have grown up – that doesn’t necessarily have to be a
particular item of clothing or even a particular style, just the things
we hold an affinity too. If we are talking about certain styles then
obviously the ones already mentioned play a big part in what we do. Some
might also be amused to know that original scuttler and Edwardian street
style is never far away in our minds when we’re making neck scarves and
Shaun; From a young age going into secondary school and being part of
the football culture while nobody else in my area was has always stuck
with me, that’s my roots and doing my own thing, so over time and as
I’ve moved on and done different things I’ve kind of developed a mash up
of various cultures but my actual roots and mindset have never really
changed from back then, just a lot wiser and a lot more open without any
boundaries in place, so there’s no “I can’t make/wear that” thought’s,
it’s a completely blank canvas now and that inspires me more than
anything, the fact that we can do whatever we want without trying to
target a particular audience because we don’t have a particular
audience, we just want to manufacture our own tastes and ideas and hope
that people like it.
GTE; Are you pleased with how well Ardour Brand has taken off?
Saul; I don’t think we sometimes realise how well Ardour has been
received. There are only the two of us and we do everything, so for a
small operation the growth of our customer base and in general people
who have praise for what we are trying to do is really encouraging and
positive. At the end of the day Ardour is not a hobby, this is our
business and something we want to grow and expand as much as we can.
This said, I would only ever want to do this the right way – never
compromising customer relations and always being true to what we
initially set out to do.
Shaun; Definitely, it’s when you start sending items out to America and
Japan when it hits home.
I’m not sure where we thought it would go when starting it up, we were
hopeful that it would be well received but I know that we didn’t think
it would go as well as it has, we definitely expected a slower start up
and even now we are only in our 12 month of trading so when we look back
over the past year I’m quite proud of what we have done so far.
GTE; I read somewhere about you doing a one-off scarf for a loyal customer, what happened there?
Shaun; A few times we have gone out of our way for customers who have
asked us if we could do a certain project for them, I’ll rephrase that
we aren’t going out of our way because we enjoy doing it, but we do some
special’s for customers upon request, someone liked a particular shirt
pattern so much he asked if we could make it into pocket squares for him
and we obliged as he’s a valued customer who loves what we do and we
appreciate his feedback, another was a custom made scarf to a certain
spec and some people don’t mind paying more for something that’s made
specially for them, we get requests for a run of scarves in certain
colours for a group etc and it’s all enjoyable work.
GTE; How did you originally get into clothes?
Saul; My obsession with clothes came about through the sartorial tales
of my parents who were both original skinheads and later dedicated
patrons of the Northern Soul scene. From a young age I was brought up on
stories of classic Skinhead style and one-upmanship and later Wigan
Casino and soul all-dayers at places like the Locarno in Birmingham
where detours were made in order to acquire Gibson brogues and other
clothing. From these stories a seed was most definitely planted and I
would seek out Harrington’s, Ben Sherman’s and other associated clothing
from vintage shops. As I got older I started going to football with
mates and the rest is history really. I become fully immersed in the
culture that young working class lads usually do when they’re travelling
to the match with a group of like minded males and that’s when clothing
really exploded for me and I haven’t looked back since.
Shaun; A very similar path to Saul with my father being part of the
football culture and a skinhead, I was taken to the football at a very
young age and by the time I was 12 it was game on really, clothes,
music, football and everything else that follows.
GTE; What are the noticeable changes you’ve seen over the past 10 years?
Saul; This is a great question and one that is probably worthy of a
dissertation alone. For me personally, 10 years ago when I was going to
football it was always about being associated with the dressing aspect:
Stone Island, CP, Henri Lloyd, lots of house check and Armani Eagles.
Adidas trainers were paramount and everyone wanted to have the rarest
model on show on match day – nothing really different than what had gone
before or still occurs today in some respect. As time progressed things
would come in and out like Izod Lacoste’s, K-Way cagoules,Strellson – I
think people sometimes ignore that labels still come in and out, just
like they did in the original days, albeit the social climate has
changed and things are much more readily available, away from that
identikit look associated with football there has always been looks and
labels that have flittered in and out.
I think the most noticeable shift in styles I can remember arrived when
young lads started getting into labels not really associated with
football and made them their own – shops like Oi Polloi exploded. When I
was around 21 I was going up to Manchester on a monthly basis, coming
back with Folk, Margaret Howell, R Newbold, vintage Peter Storms,
Belstaff, Clerk&Teller, Berghaus, Superga, Clarks OG, Barbour, Edwin etc.
I remember going out dressed in the aforementioned and getting
completely slated but over time that kind of stuff is now the norm.
I think it needs to be stressed that things definitely move on and I’m
no different to this rule. These days I love and buy labels such as
Dubbleworks, Colimbo, BlueBlue, Kapital, LVC, Warehouse, Mackintosh,
MHL, Post O’Alls etc. The way I dress now obviously differs to the way I
dressed 10 years ago, but in my opinion its all part of the same style
to me, the catalyst was football and I still consider that a major
factor in the way I dress – that initial ethos will never leave and I
think the same can be said for most like minded gentlemen of a similar
Shaun; Where to start with this question, because the driving force of
what made me tick back then I don’t think currently exists in the same
modern circles, 10 years ago most were still knocking about at the
football and there was a cutting edge there, I don’t see that
association anymore, the lads who were doing that are now doing other
things and putting those passion’s elsewhere, not all of them, but a
lot, and it’s an easy thing to say “oh thats dead now” but hand on heart
the whole football thing is, the dressing side of it became stale (I
personally felt this completely, feeling out of touch and behind times
and I literally gutted my wardrobe and started fresh) lads started
writing blogs, making websites, exploring photography, opening shops and
labels, putting on underground nights, becoming stylists, artists and
channelling the passions in a different way, it’s still there that
mindset but just in a completely different format, so the clothing side
of it has done what it always has and that’s move forward even if it is
slightly adapted/regurgitated, you can tell what background someone is
from by how they dress.
GTE; What kind of things can we expect from Ardour for the next few months?
Saul; We have plans in place for a couple of things such as a denim
coverall and a Breton fishtail parka. We do things in a very mish-mash
kind of way at the moment, usually born out of a conversation about
something we’d like to see and then we just have a go at it.
Shaun; We are just discussing our next moves but we want to complete the
coverall and parka before we go any further, now we’ve moved into
outerwear and shirts/sweatshirts it’s opened up a whole new world in
knowing what we can achieve and what we want to do so the next few
months and remainder of the year we are carrying on as we are releasing
pieces we want to manufacture while gearing up ready for a big 2015.
GTE; You use a lot of English and American companies to make your products, how important is this for you?
Shaun; When we started out we found it very hard to get what we wanted
made in Britain, after some digging and a lot of phone calls we now have
everything we manufacture made in Britain.
Taking the romantic side of it away it’s important that we can visit our
factories and be able to talk with them, change things quickly if needed
and also chase orders up, some of the factories we use are local to
myself in Birmingham and Wolverhampton so I can just pop in and sort
I enjoy giving work to local business and they do the same in return
giving us contacts of local button manufacturing and fabric dyeing and
it’s great for the economy, it feel’s like we are helping each other out
and moving forward which is a great feeling.
GTE; How hard was it setting up your own brand?
Saul; Setting up a brand definitely takes time and hard work. Behind the
obvious elements there are a lot of legal aspects that need to be taken
into consideration as well as the admin kind of stuff when setting up
any business. Without trying to sound cliché, I think you get out what
you put in and hopefully hard work will pay off for us in the end.
Shaun; A great learning curve that’s for sure, we were almost taken to
court over the first name we came up with for the label and had to
literally start again which was frustrating but very happy we changed it
all over now and it was for the best.
The hardest part was getting factories to believe in you and to take a
chance on you making small quantities by sharing the same vision as us
for the future where we will still be in business together, we’ve never
wanted to make 500 pieces of one item, we enjoy making 20 shirts and
never making them again and sometimes it’s about a factory knowing what
we want to do and helping out, something we struggled to find for a
GTE; Do you feel the rise in independent brands can only be a good thing for ‘menswear’?
Saul; Absolutely, there is a great cache of independent UK brands about
at the moment that all seem to be doing well. This not only promotes
growth in terms of UK trade and manufacturing, which is extremely
important, but also shows that people are looking for something a bit
different. It may be bold to say, but I think a lot of the more
established UK brands have become a bit predictable the past few
seasons. If you look at what the independent brands are putting out,
there’s a definite feel of originality and something a bit different on
offer, which people are obviously craving. We feel proud to be part of
this and long may it continue.
GTE; You are also part of Boogie Cartel, tell us a bit about them.
Saul; Away from clothing our other main passion is of course music and
Boogie Cartel is our outlet for that passion. Boogie Cartel is basically
4 friends who met through a shared love of football, clothing and the
music we play and we decided to do our own party. We were lucky enough
to get a break in London at the Horse and Groom, which at the time was
London’s Mecca for Disco. From here we have gained popularity and a
decent fan base, having gone on to be booked to play on the continent,
across the UK, as well as the likes of Glastonbury, Bestival, Farr,
Shambala and pretty much the cream of London’s underground club circuit.
The music we play and love is a colourful spectrum of Boogie, 80s Funk,
Soul, Chicago House, Proto House and Disco. There’s always a great cross
section of people at our nights and we have a monthly residency in
Dalston at The Nest where everyone comes together and has a ball. That’s
what music should always be about, shouldn’t it?
Shaun; I think we are both thankful for Boogie Cartel, it’s been going
for 3/4 years now and the fact people pay us to go and get smashed and
play records to people all night is pretty special, I get huge
satisfaction from it and DJ’ing is my biggest release, music instantly
satisfies me and it’s all hand in hand in with what we are about,
another dream is to start a record label up which I’m currently looking
GTE; When did you discover your passion in music?
Saul; From as early as I can remember I was brought up on a staple diet
of Northern and modern Soul from my parents. It was a very musical
household and I have great memories of them picking me up after they’d
been to all-nighters, getting home where Dad would then get out his
records and play them all day. They’re both still heavily involved on
the Northern scene and my dad is an avid collector (some my say anorak)
to this day. This is where my love of music stems from and I’m grateful
that I was brought up in this manner as it’s shaped who I am to this day
and is probably the source of my best personal trait, that being
Shaun; It goes way back to my father and grandfather, I would sit there
and listen to my dad’s records (and sometimes my mothers poor taste) and
by the age of 7 I had a record player in my bedroom, I would go up to my
grandfathers house and he had this amazing wall built around the three
sides of his living room, topped off by this heavy dark wood and you
would lift the hinged wood to reveal his drinks cabinet and record
collection, I would be there for hours playing one after the other
listening to his varied taste and it was one part of the house that was
immaculate, that’s how he wanted it, he wanted his record player, his
drink and his music in perfect order and I never got bored of it.
GTE; Do you feel music and fashion go hand in hand?
Saul; If you look back over the decades, most styles are intrinsically
linked with a music scene: Punk, Skin, Rocker and Mod, so I think that
music and fashion definitely play off each other to some respect but I
also think culture in general, whether that is music or otherwise,
probably influences the way people dress. There are lots of ingredients;
music is just one of them.
Shaun; Growing up saving for records and clothes were definitely linked
for me and I could never choose one over the other, a lot of sub
cultures have music aligned with them and I think it’s all part and
GTE; What other interests do you have?
Saul; I’ve always loved writing, especially about the things that drive
and interest me and this is something that I will always do. As well as
this I’ve always been enthralled with history, both social and political
and have a vested interest in design and photography. I’m a creative
person at heart so I guess I’m always stimulated by the visceral and
physical things in life.
Shaun; Photography, Art, Music Production- I’ve just built a studio
which I’m really enjoying, and then of course my beautiful family and