This week, we bring you an interview with the owner of one of the best menswear shops in Britain, Ian Peggs, of Peggs & Son fame.
GTE; First off, what made you set up Peggs & Son?
IP; I always loved clothes as a kid- a typically working class thing I guess. I started secondary school (a big Comprehensive in Coventry) in 1983 and that was an exciting (and now well documented) period for working class lads fashion. I remember seeing the older lads with Fila BJ’s, charlie perms and exotic coloured Adidas and I wanted in.
GTE; So, how did you start getting into clothes?
IP; I remember the first decent bit of clobber I got. I went to town with my dad one saturday, sometime in 85′ (a rarity in itself as he would normally be at the football or playing snooker at the CIU club) to buy our first video player and we walked past the store that back then, sold all the gear- it was called ‘Sa Bacci’. I dont know where my old man got the money from but he caught me staring in the window and asked if I wanted to go in. I tried on a Burberry polo with a house check placket and he bought it for me. Magic.
I always worked part time jobs to get money together for clothes. I remember going to school in my Farah hopsack trousers (split at the side naturally) a green Head bag, matching green Trimm trabbs and a Best Company sweatshirt. It was all about the brands- Classic Nouveau, Liberto and all the rest. That lasted until I discovered second hand shops, and me and my mates started buying 501’s and going out to dance to DJ’s playing soul and hip hop records. I used to have a pair of boots by ‘Troop’ which i searched high and low for after seeing them on a Stetsasonic record cover. Then Acid house hit home and we would travel to clubs in Manchester, Nottingham and Brighton and have a look what was happening in those cities.
I couldnt imagine a future for me in Coventry at the time so I left in search of an education. I went up to Bolton for a year because a college offered me a place on a course and then stayed in London for a few years. A couple of years after finishing up at college I ended up in Brighton in 97.
GTE; What did you do before Peggs & Son?
IP; Work wise I was doing anything I could get- warehouse work, shitty office jobs, anything to keep me going really. I started knocking around with a lad who had a small store in Brighton who had a really good eye for clothes- selling Denime, Final Home and Vexed Generation. We talked about going in to business together but it never worked out so I decided to go it alone.
GTE; Have you ever considered expanding to another city, say London or Manchester?
IP; I have never looked at opening anywhere else- If you open other locations it can become something else. I like being on the shopfloor and being around in an everyday sense- that way you keep in touch with whats going on with the customers and dont become just a manager or accountant. Also, these places already have excellent stores who know their areas better than i would and I dont fancy the commute either. I like being able to take my kids to school in the morning and stuff like that.
GTE; Has online shopping helped or hindered Peggs & Son?
IP; I would never have guessed the online shopping trend when I started out 14 years ago and I certainly wasnt on the ball when it became apparant it was the future. Its amazing the way some great independant stores have flourished and become massive. I think its levelled the playing field in many respects and the internet in general has transformed peoples knowledge and ability to find things that would have been previously inaccessible.
GTE; In a time where many independent retailers have closed, did you ever feel like the desire for indie shops was falling?
IP; I dont think the desire good independants has fallen- good stores are still the people who introduce new brands and stuff to most people- but so many people are simply price driven now. The one thing the growth in online shopping appears to have promoted is the glut of discounting seen over the last few years. I dont know if its stores suffering in the current economic climate or just an attempt to grow their online business, but its a damaging process in my opinion and also unsustainable.
GTE; People see owning a shop as the dream lifestyle, how wrong or right are they?
IP; In my experience, owning a store is plain hard work and it takes a good amount of time to gain any success (though I’m not sure how that’s measured). I’ve been doing it so long now I’m not sure what else I could do! Its certainly not glamorous- like owning any business its hard graft and you have to be bloody minded to survive. There is an old Chinese proverb- It is easy to open a shop but its incredibly hard to keep it open (or something like that..)
GTE; We saw on Instagram you visited Paris, Copenhagen and New York for various fashion weeks, how was that?
IP; The exciting part of the job is going out, finding stuff and buying what you think is great product for the store. I have been able to travel a bit more recently which is helpful. Its nice to get out of your own little cocoon and say hello to other store owners/ buyers and brands. Nice to get a few beers in while away from the kids..
GTE; What are your plans for the future with Peggs & Son?
IP; My aim has always been simple- just to be a good store and have an interesting offer. Brighton is a hard town to trade in (its known as a retail graveyard) with a small population so sometimes I have had to temper what I would like to do with the reality of living in a small City. As always though, I am always adding to the mix of what we sell- this year has been amazing for new brands being added to the store-Acronym, Nanamica, Engineered Garments, Orslow and Neighborhood all coming on board.
GTE; Your top 2 brands ever are…
IP; Fuck, thats hard one. Ive been thinking about it for half an hour and changed mymind several times.. the one that alwys sticks though is 6876.
Many thanks to Ian for doing the interview, head over to Peggs & Son to check out their latest products and AW gear.